Pubs fear beer shortage ahead of indoor reopening as brewers swamped

Pubs fear there will be a beer shortage as they plan to reopen for indoor service for the first time this year on Monday.

Around 45,000 boozers will welcome back customers indoors for the first time in more than five months as coronavirus restrictions are eased on the next step out of lockdown.

Pubs were allowed to reopen for outdoor service in April, but just 40% of them were able to do so due to a lack of outdoor space.

Patrick Dardis, chief executive of Young's, one of Britain's biggest pub chains, told the Telegraph he has directly lobbied major brewers to step up production after unexpected demand following the initial reopening.

He has sent the request to the likes of Heineken and InBev after the relaxation of lockdown led to a shortage of beers including Amstel and Birra Morretti.

It forced Heineken to limit deliveries of the latter to three kegs a week. Breweries were forced to work through the night to keep up with demand ahead of the first bank holiday weekend in May.

Patrick said: "I wrote to all the CEOs of all the brewers saying that 'we've been through enough now, we are at the end of the tunnel and the last thing we need is a problem with supply, so get your act together and brew like you've never brewed before,' because it's just not acceptable.

"As soon as the pubs start again we expect supply to be there."

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Mr Dardis said there had been a ­"significant improvement" in supply in recent days – partly due to poor weather affecting customer numbers – but warned that "we’re not out of the woods yet".

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the industry trade body, thinks 45,000 boozers will reopen on Monday, serving around a staggering three million pints.

But it added that 2,000 businesses will remain closed due to the social distancing rules, no standing drinking, and the table service requirement.

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The industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and bosses are hopeful all restrictions will be removed by June 21, when lockdown is scheduled to end.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "This is by no means the end of the crisis for our sector.

"We need pubs fully reopened without any restrictions at all on June 21 if they are to survive and trade viably."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that England will move into phase three of lockdown as planned on Monday.

Customers will still have to follow a strict set of rules when businesses reopen for indoor service, including wearing a mask when not sat at a table.

The change in regulations means six people, or two households, will be able to eat and drink inside.

Wetherspoons plans to reopen 860 pubs while another 1,848 Green King boozers will also welcome back customers.

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