Pub companies in the UK have been accused of being "greedy" and acting like "beer supermarkets". The Good Beer Guide said earlier this week that the country's largest so-called 'pubcos' wield "awesome power" without providing decent choice for drinkers.

The companies, which demand hefty discounts from suppliers thanks to the large number of pubs they own, are currently the subject of an inquiry by the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee.

It follows complaints from tenants about the prices charged by pubcos for rent and drinks.
The four biggest pubcos - Enterprise, Punch, Spirit and Mitchells & Butlers - own a third of the country's pubs, almost 22,000 outlets.

"Pubcos act in a similar fashion to supermarkets: they favour big suppliers over small ones and wrest enormous discounts from those suppliers," says the guide, published this week. "The pubcos force their tenants to pay top prices for the beer supplied to them and the prices are naturally carried over to the cost of a pint at the bar."

Research for the guide found drinkers are paying as much as £3 in pubs for a pint of real ale.
The highest prices were found at certain pubs in London and compare with some pubs in Yorkshire where real ale was a mere £1.09 a pint. The names of the pubs concerned were not revealed.

Roger Protz, editor of the Good Beer Guide, said: "Given the enormous discounts being offered to pub chains by big brewers, I think this shows that pub chains are not passing these discounts on to their pub tenants and the poor old beer drinker is paying the price for their greed."

The research, the largest survey of its kind, found the typical price for real ale in London was £2.24 - 11p higher than last year and 18p above the national average of £2.06. The average price of lager nationally is £2.25 a pint, yet in the capital it is £2.41 - up 7p from last year.

The North West is the cheapest region where real ale costs an average £1.87 a pint and lager is around £2.03 a pint. Wales saw the highest increase in real ale prices - up 5.37% from £1.86 to £1.96. The average price of real ale in Scotland is £2.12 a pint and lager £2.15.