The results emerged recently when Birmingham Friends of the Earth surveyed 15 bars on Broad Street and 5 on the nearby canalside. Only 4 from 15 on Broad Street sold beer local to the West Midlands. The pubs on the Water’s Edge and the Gas Street Basin offered a much better chance of finding local beer, with 3 of the 5 bars asked offering such beverages.
Supply of local beer is hardly lacking in the West Midlands, with 51 breweries in total of various sorts and sizes. Bass brew several sorts of beer at Smethwick and Burton-on-Trent. Marstons and Banks are based in Wolverhampton and Burton, and there are a further 48 other independent breweries in the region.
By contrast with Broad Street, local beer is readily available in other parts of the city even from some of the pubs owned or allied to breweries from other regions. The Old Joint Stock, for example, in St Philips Square, always has a beer on tap from the Beowulf Brewery based in Birmingham.
Richard Reynolds from Fullers, who own the pub, said "We were very keen to establish a link with a local supplier for our guest ales and were surprised that Beowulf had problems finding a city centre pub to stock their beers. There was an obvious synergy as we are both independent family brewers who pride themselves on quality and service to the local community."
The number of miles beer and its ingredients travel is increasing. A recent study found that some imported beers and their ingredients can travel as much as 24,000 miles in total before reaching the consumer. Even some beers brewed in this country can clock up huge miles through importing hops from New Zealand and such like. If we are going to tackle the threat of global warming, such trends must be reversed.
Richard Cave-Bigley, Local Produce Campaigner at Birmingham FoE, said: "The use of local business is valuable for the environment because it means less transport is involved and so in turn less road use and burning of fossil-fuels. It also means healthier local economies and more jobs. It seems mad that Broad Street is one of the few places in the City where you often don’t have the option of buying local beer."
The bars questioned were also asked how much of their glass they reused and recycled. Amazingly, only 7 of the 20 reuse and recycle all their glass bottles. A further 5 recycle some. The remaining 8
don't bother at all. Waste disposal costs Birmingham City Council huge sums each year, and both landfill and incineration cause damage to the environment and pose potential health risks.
Recent research in America has discovered that there are on average 6 times more jobs in the reuse and recycling of materials than in incineration and landfill. Reusing and recycling glass is easy. Recycling uses less energy than making new glass and can reduce the need to quarry raw materials by 80%.
Mr Cave-Bigley added: "It's nothing short of disgraceful that such profitable establishments can get away with throwing their glass away at the expense of the public and the environment. Rather than being disposed of at a financial and environmental cost, these materials could be put to use."
3 other bars were not able to answer questions at the time of the survey.