Many country pubs 'being ruined by the large brewers'

(First Edition)

COUNTRY pubs are under threat from national brewery conglomerates dedicated to maximising profit, a guide published today by the Consumers' Association says. Up to 10,000 could close by the end of the century.

The Which? Guide to Country Pubs says that many distinctive country pubs are being ruined by 'crass money-making schemes' such as video screens or 'scampi and chips' conservatories. Many are also closing because of action by the big brewing groups. 'Our inspectors would often spend hours tracking down potentially good pubs, only to discover them closed . . . an estate agent's sign nailed to the wall,' David Mabey, the editor, says.

The guide recommends about 1,000 pubs and singles out 70 as outstanding. It describes country pubs as a 'national treasure' and calls for the 'pub equivalent' of a preservation order to ensure their survival.

Wine in pubs is also criticised as disastrous: 80 per cent of it 'notoriously inferior'. The guide commends small breweries such as Fuller's and Adnams which are training publicans in the sale of good wines.

Which? Guide to Country Pubs; Consumers' Association/Hodder & Stoughton; pounds 12.99.