I’ll make no apologies for starting this week’s column with a good dose of promotion for local charities. Those interested in the usual mix of news and views, skip to the half way down the article.

Long term readers will know that I am heavily involved in the Ramfest Music Festival at Southowram Cricket Club, which this year takes place on Sunday 1st July.  After the overwhelming (literally) success of last year, we hope the weather stays dry so the 6 acts who are appearing this year can entertain as many people as 2011.  This year we are raising money for Forget Me Not Childrens Hospice and Homestart Calderdale, a local family charity.

Over the last two years £2500 has been raised for our nominated charities and we hope to add another 4 figure sum to that total this year.  You can find more information at http://www.facebook.com/Ramfest2012 and tickets cost £5 per adult with any accompanying children going free.  There will be a BBQ, outside and can bar on site, so please come down and have a great day out.

Another one of our local hospices in Calderdale is Overgate who specialise in care and support for those with life limiting illnesses. Over the Jubilee weekend, Lewins in Halifax raised nearly £200 for them, partly by getting customers to name their next beer, which will be put on tap this weekend (30th June).  People paid £1 to submit their beer name and out of the 41 entries the winner drawn out of the hat was “The Dark Desserter”, a name which matches the beer, a rum and raisin stout perfectly.

To raise further funds, staff at the pub selected the 10 best names left in the hat and is giving customers a chance to vote for their favourite while donating 50p per vote to Overgate.  The winning name will have a beer brewed to suit the name chosen.  The names you can select from include “Back, Rack and Crack”, “Mutant Flamingo”, “Giddy Pants”, “This is Genius, not a Guinness”, “Monica Lewinsky” and “OB 1 and Only”.

Now back to our regular services.  Over the years my mental price barrier for beer has changed both in pubs and when buying bottles, £2.50 at the pump and £2 in the bottle used to be my limit, then I got into real and craft ale.  My personal limit now is about £3.70 for a pint of really good ale, going up to about £5 for a really good craft beer.

I used to think that the aforementioned £2 for a shop bought bottled beer was a good top level to spend and although sub £2.50 bottles still dominate my spending, I recently spent £3.50 on a single bottle, and more worryingly for my wallet, got very close to spending £5 on a 500ml bottle of Durham Brewery Temptation, something I think I will fall to next time.  It may seem a lot, but people regularly pay £10+ for a bottle of wine and more than triple that for a good bottle of spirits, both of those prices not being considered as being anywhere near the top end of their own market.

Beer has been thought of as the drink of the working man and for a long period of history it was just that.  Now things are changing, there are brewers from the north of England out there who can charge close to £5 retail for a 330ml bottle and people are happy to pay for the quality of the beer (please note however, this is no excuse for the dutch brewery at the Olympic venues charging the same for their generic lager).   One of the more talked about imported brands among craft beer fans Nogne of Norway sells all its beers for between £4 and £6 per 500ml bottle.

Of course a fraction of a percent of beer drinkers will pay these prices, probably the same percentage who drink expensive wines and spirits.  Most people will drink the offerings available at one of the big supermarkets.  I’m as susceptible as the next person for a 4 bottles for £6 deal when there is a good offering, and most supermarkets have really upped their game on ales now.  It is the same principle with 3 bottles for £12 deals for most wine drinkers.

But to try really high end beer, it isn’t going cost you £100 quid for a bottle, its often a case of buying 1 bottle where you would have brought 3 more mainstream beers, so is much more available to those who want to experiment without spending a lot of money.   It might not be the working mans drink any longer, but does allow any class of drinker to sample from across its spectrum.

Happy supping until next week.