Bass back on bars

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Bass back on bars

Readers may recall serious issues with the supply of the iconic Burton-brewed draught Bass after the lockdown ended. In 2021, this was widely attributed to a national shortage of HGV drivers, which was linked to both the pandemic and Brexit. The problems continued for well over a year in some places, with the beer being entirely unobtainable or supply seriously disrupted.

At times, it was even hard to find a pint of Bass on the bar in the permanent Bass houses of Burton-on-Trent, where the beer is brewed. Bottled Bass is brewed by the brand’s owners, AB InBev, at Samlesbury, Lancashire and was not affected by the issues.

Chris Eaton is the company secretary for ASD Wholesale, the largest independent distributor of cask Bass in the UK. He explained that the problems caused by the shortage of HGV drivers were further “exaggerated due to the absurd logistics that is involved when purchasing Bass; it’s brewed by Marston's, in Burton, then shipped to Magor in South Wales where the beer duty is paid, then put on another vehicle back to us! We’re 25 miles from Burton but cannot collect from there”.

While many publicans struggled to get hold of the beer in 2021, AB InBev told Staffordshire Live that it was “committed to the beer and its production would be continuing”.

The delays in transportation meant stock went out of date and the beer was scrapped. Repeated out-of-stock warnings caused chaos for permanent Bass stockists, resulting in a certain amount of panic buying even when the supply resumed, hence why it has taken so long for things to return to a steady footing.

Happily, the shortage is now over. In a straw poll, nine out of 10 publicans and wholesalers said that supplies of draught Bass had now returned to normal. ASD Wholesale reports that its supply to the free trade is running as normal.

“We always have a stock holding of around 200 10-gallon casks,” Chris said. “That is approximately one week’s supply. The majority of our sales ironically are back into and around Burton-on-Trent, with a large amount also going into Derby and the Derbyshire Dales.

“In its defence, the quality of the beer is absolutely A1 and completely consistent, now it’s brewed back in Burton, and mostly without supply issues.”

AB InBev was approached for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.

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