Some 1,000 draymen went on strike last week over a pay dispute as the furlough scheme winds down. The strike has now been resolved, but the knock-on effect of the walkout has already seen one pub forced to shut its doors and there are fears other may follow before the end of the week.
The draymen involved in the action are responsible for around 40 percent of all beer deliveries to pubs in Britain, including names such as Amstel, Fosters and Heineken.
The supply issues have been compounded by the coronavirus pingdemic, which saw a shortage in lorry drivers able to make normal deliveries.
One pub – the Greyhound Inn in Stogursey – has revealed it has already been forced to close after not receiving enough barrels of beer for its clients.
The Greyhound Inn told customers: “Pub closed today and until further noticed shortage of beer due to strike action from brewery.
“We simply have no Amstel, Fosters or Heineken so we decided to shut up the pub until we have new stocks. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.”
And The Spring Vale Inn, in Chadderton, Greater Manchester, said: “We’re really low and may have to shut Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.”
Pubs right across the country are desperately very low on supply now, with some reports claiming the issue won’t be resolved until mid-September.
Big pub chains are thought to be the worst affected, as they rely most heavily on imported brands.
John Wray, owner of the Venue, in Bolton, Greater Manchester, said: “There’s a growing concern we could run out.”
And as the supply crisis deepens, some pubs have been reporting aggressive behaviour and abuse from unhappy customers.
The Fox and Hounds pub in Clavering, Essex, reported that the absence of some beers resulted in customers “swearing and shouting” at bar staff.
But staff are doing everything they possibly can to ensure customers can still enjoy their pub trips.
A notice at the Seven Wives pub in St Ives, Cornwall, said: “Due to Heineken having strike issues with deliveries we (like most pubs etc) are experiencing a shortage of our usual stock.
Another, the Old Black Horse in Mapperley, Nottingham, said: “Due to ongoing industrial action at Heineken’s distributors, some of their products are proving very difficult to source.
“Given that we’re a free house, fortunately we can buy alternative products. So in the coming weeks we may be forced to substitute some of your favourites.
“For example Birra Moretti may be substituted with Peroni. Strongbow dark fruit, Lagunitas and of course Heineken itself are the other products facing supply shortages and thus substitution.
“Sorry for any inconvenience. This is due to last until AT LEAST a week or two into September, probably longer!”
A representative from brewer Heineken said: “It will take some time to get the network back to capacity,” and many venues and pub owners warned of the shortages via social media.