Can you remember where you were when HQ announced the pubs were opening back up?! (Home, probably)
Us Manxies love a drink, especially in a pub. Yet, like all businesses, they’ve suffered from the impact of COVID-19. We spoke to Roger Cave from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Isle of Man about the effect of Covid on the Isle of Man.
While anyone who has been to a pub recently will know that they have been POPPING, the impact of lockdown has been evident. Some pubs have had to reduce their hours- whether this be a consequence of the loss of business during lockdown or the lack of tourists on island. The reduced VAT in hospitality may help some pubs that serve food, but it hasn’t affected wet sales.
With disruption in the UK and further afield we asked Roger: has the beer supply been affected? The answer is, unfortunately, yes. He told us that “a lot of people are finding it difficult to source beer with the same ease as before lockdown because a lot of the breweries across, like a lot of businesses, have actually scaled down because there isn’t really the outlet for the products.”
Fortunately, despite the difficulties, the island’s relationships with beer suppliers has helped the situation. “We’re lucky we have a few independent retail outlets for beer and they’ve had long associations with various suppliers who source their beers from different brewers (like a hub).”
While beer may be more difficult to get a hold of from off-island, it’s more important than ever to support our local businesses: the island has a number of its own breweries and distilleries producing a range of Manx ales, wines and spirits.
Roj also gave us some massively good news: THE ISLE OF MAN BEER FEST IS COMING BACK.
What Glasto is to music lovers, the Beer and Cider Festival is to Manx beer lovers, who were undoubtedly disappointed when ‘rona meant it couldn’t go ahead this year. But as proved by events like the Food and Drink Festival and Thriller in the Villa, there’s a real appetite for events at the moment.
CAMRA have confirmed that the Beer and Cider Festival will be back next April. While the amount of beers might have to be reduced, they will still spoil you for choice with “over 100 beers, 50 ciders and fruit wines”. What will remain the same is the location (Royal Hall) and “it will still have that fantastic atmosphere you don’t get at other beer festivals- it is unique to the island”. There will be some differences, a lot of visitors and volunteers come from the UK or further afield, and if restrictions are still in place it’ll mean they’ll be unable to visit- but it just means that the festival will be a thoroughly Manx affair. There has also been talk with CAMRA Guernsey about the possibility of bringing some Guernsey beer fans over, should there be an air bridge in place next March/ April.
With pubs and breweries needing us more than ever, Roj has a simple answer on how we can help our pubs and breweries: USE THEM OR LOSE THEM. And, if Roj, the pub expert, tells us to, who are we to deny ourselves the luxury of a pint?