I'm going to be in London two weeks from now, so it saddened me to hear this on NPR's Morning Edition today:
The British Beer and Pub Association says an average of 52 pubs are closing each week. Changing consumer tastes, a two-year-old smoking ban and the deepening economic recession have hit pubs hard. But for thousands, the death blow has been dealt by rising government taxes on beer — up to 20 percent in the past two years. The traditional pint glass of beer now runs about $6, meaning few working-class Brits can afford that other British tradition: buying your friends a round.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has refused to reconsider further increases in the tax on beer. Industry leaders say that means thousands more pubs will close their doors.
"There is no alternative to the pub," [Fuller's Brewery's chairman Michael Turner] says. "It is the center of the community. And all the social interaction that goes with a pub is likely to be lost when the pub goes. I mean, you can go from three pubs to two pubs in a community, but when you lose the last pub — that's it."