Simon English: Are shoots of recovery rooted in £5 pint of lager?

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Outlook The £5 pint of beer, a horror fleetingly spotted whose existence could never be confirmed, can no longer be dismissed as an urban myth.

SABMiller confirmed yesterday that its high-end designer lager Peroni is going for a little more than that in some pubs around London.

As the sun beat down on Wednesday evening, pubs in Covent Garden sold 800 pints at a fiver each in less than three hours. By 7pm, drinkers were forced to switch to a cheaper brew because the Peroni supplies were spent.

Gary Haigh, the managing director of SAB's UK arm Miller Brands, was entirely unapologetic, talking of the boost to the economy and the lift to government coffers via taxes.

"It is good for publicans and good for the Government," he tells me. Peroni seems to be hugely popular among a certain type of drinker. "If you go into the City at 5.30pm on a sunny evening, Peroni is being sold like it is going out of fashion," Mr Haigh says.

If you're hunting for signs of economic recovery, perhaps City boys swilling a fizzy mix of hops, malt, barley and water isn't quite what you're after.

And why lager – lager!– can possibly be worth five quid a go we'll have to leave to the marketing people, or possibly the psychologists.

But we're desperate for green shoots around here, so we'll take what we can.

s.english@independent.co.uk

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