Wednesday, January 10, 2007


A drop of disloyalty from disgruntled drinkers

Regulars at a pub in Lewes, East Sussex have been staying away in droves following the withdrawal of the local beer by the giant brewers, Greene King. Since the last pint of Lewes-brewed Harveys, the most popular beer sold in the pub, was pulled in the Lewes Arms on 10th December, there has been a boycott of the pub by its regulars who have held a vigil outside the pub at peak times during the two busiest drinking weeks of the year.

Andy Gammon, of the Friends of the Lewes Arms, is delighted with the success of the boycott. “The pub has been almost empty in the holiday period,” he said. “When we’ve explained what we’re doing and why, people have been almost 100% supportive of our protest and gone to drink elsewhere in the town. The pub even stayed shut on Christmas Day, when it’s usually full to bursting. We’ll keep this up until Harveys is back on sale in our local. We know they’re a huge company and it will be hard to hurt them financially, but we’re even more determined now that we know how much the people of Lewes are behind us. We reckon their seasonal trade must have dropped by at least 90%.”

So that Greene King doesn’t mistake the lack of sales in January and February for the usual seasonal quiet patch, campaigners have produced a “disloyalty card”, which is stamped or signed by the publican every time a drink is bought elsewhere. The completed cards will be sent to Greene King, so that they can be under no illusions about the business they are losing.

The Friends aren’t just miffed at not being able to get their usual pint in their local. They claim that trucking beer 180 miles when there is a perfectly good brewery half a mile away is not helping reduce food miles, and that Greene King’s refusal to offer a local alternative to its own beers in its pubs is part of a trend of creeping homogenisation in the licensed trade, in marked contrast to their claim to cater for every taste in their pubs. Former regular Fran Maloney said “Greene King are turning into the Tesco of the pub trade and it was the idiosyncratic nature of the Lewes Arms that made it so great. Taking out the best selling beer, despite a 1,200 signature petition, shows that they’re only listening to their accountants, not their customers. Hopefully, they’ll listen to the footsteps marching off to other pubs in town and come to their senses. They certainly won’t be listening to the tills, they’re almost silent.”

Harveys Sussex Best was voted best bitter in Britain by CAMRA in both 2005 and 2006.


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