For as long as I can remember, people have complained about the price of a pint of beer. It's as commonplace a discussion around the bar as the Great British Weather and if I had a pound for every time I'd heard somebody say "when the price of a pint reaches £2 I'll stop drinking; when the price of a pint reaches £3 I'll stop drinking; when the price of a pint reaches £4 I'll stop drinking..." I'd be a wealthy man by now.
The inexorable rise in the price of beer these days is as accepted as the height of Simon Cowell's trouser waist and yet, as a nation of beer lovers, we appear mighty reticent about fighting it.
Few people realise that beer duty has gone up by over 40% in the last three years and that a third of the price you pay for your pint is tax. Worse, there is a horribly cunning piece of legislation, known colloquially as the Beer Duty Escalator, which means that each year alcohol will rise by 2% above the rate of inflation, automatically.
This allows the Chancellor, during his Budget speech, to always use the vanilla line: "there will be no change to our alcohol policy this year." The general public always cheer, thinking booze has been left alone, and then blame the publican when the price of their pint has jumped another ten pence.
CAMRA - the Campaign for Real Ale - has set up an e-petition to stop this duty escalator but, at the time of writing, just 42'510 people have shown their support for it. For a nation that thinks beer is getting too expensive, this is surprisingly low...
Compare it, for example, to the "Pasty Tax". Britain was in uproar following the last Budget when it was announced that savoury products such as pasties or pies that are warmed up for take away would become subject to VAT, a price hike of twenty percent.
Off the back of such uproar, a petition of half a million names was delivered to Downing Street protesting the VAT addition and many others exist online for you to add your voice to. Now, I love a Pukka Pie as much as the next man but I also love my beer (even if it doesn't always love me...), and the pub industry in which I work.
Beer is the cornerstone of pubs; pubs are at the heart of life for many communities; the brewing industry provides jobs to millions of people up and down this land. Every day we read a story about one pub or another closing, of the beleaguered pub industry.
It doesn't have to be like that. There are many things affecting the pub world and for many small pubs it's hard enough trying to keep the business afloat in these times of drought, but the beer duty escalator is a heinous policy that really does need redressing.
If you've got a pub in your village, have a loved one employed by the industry or simply can't stomach the thought of carrying on drinking if the average price of a pint exceeds four quid, you can add your voice to CAMRA's campaign and sign the e-petition.
100'000 signatures are what's needed to get Parliament to debate the matter. If half a million pasty-lovers can do it, so can pub lovers. All you've got to do is click here... http://goo.gl/yikqv
Follow Mark J Daniels on Twitter: www.twitter.com/marktharparms