Beer drinkers are being warned pubs could soon slug $15 for a pint after the biggest tax hike in more than 30 years, with the cost of a slab also going up.
Twice-yearly indexation happens on February 1 and August 1, and the latest was a record increase of about 4 per cent, Brewers Association of Australia chief executive John Preston said, making us the world’s fourth highest beer-taxing nation behind Japan, Norway and Finnish.
Mr Preston said $15 for a pint of regular, non-craft, full-strength beer was on its way, with prices in WA pubs already “up there”.
“That’s where we’re heading,” he told The West Australian.
The tax on a carton was about $18 and was set to rise by about 80 cents, he said.
“Whether you drink at home or whether you drink in the pub, you’re going to get slugged.”
Mr Preston said the industry had asked the Federal Government to consider cutting the rate for draft beer on tap in the March budget given the tough times pubs had endured throughout the pandemic.
“In the end, they didn’t do it… we were really disappointed,” he said.
“It’s a big cost for pub owners and this was a way to give some targeted support to them as they tried to recover from the pandemic and deal with increased wage bills, increased electricity bills.”
Pub owners agreed they were copping it from all sides, with the excise hike on top of frequent increases for all other supplies.
They tend to resist jacking up beer prices, knowing the cost of a pint is the main measure by which punters judge their watering holes.
But third generation publish John Parker of The Royal, The Standard and Dandelion said the higher tax would have to be passed on to consumers, tipping $10 schooners and $14 pints.
He described the hike as a “kick in the guts”.
“Beer has already gone up because of higher transport costs,” Mr Parker said.
“I can’t speak on behalf of other publicans but I’m pretty sure we won’t be absorbing the increase ourselves.
“Everybody has had it tough for the past few years but hospitality has been hit particularly hard.
“We’ve had lockdowns, forced closures, reduced trading capacity, mask mandates. We did what we were asked to do and it was tough – a lot of us lost money – but I stayed open as much as I could.
“I felt, being a publican, you’ve got a responsibility to be a place where people can come and still catch up. But then for them to increase the tax, it’s like ‘c’mon’.
“People have been locked away for so long. Give us a break.”
King Road Brewing Co head brewer Steve Wearing agreed.
“We’re facing pretty huge increases in our materials, transport costs and all of our servicing costs so we definitely have a great deal of other increasing costs at the minute to add to this hike,” Mr Wearing said.
“At the minute, we’re absorbing all these costs but it’s getting to the point where we are going to have to look at increasing our prices soon.
“We obviously avoid doing that as much as possible – we don’t want to put the price of beer up but we’ve got no choice.”
Froth Craft Brewery co-owner and head brewer Tyler Little said the excise hike was inevitable.
“But you just have to find creative ways to enrich your product and your brand because you can’t get away from tax increases,” he said.
“Every aspect of running a brewery is indefinitely going up. We increased our beer prices last year by $1 just because we saw our profit margins going down.
“You’re not going to run a very successful business if you’re going to take the brunt of increasing costs of things.”