Extended nightlife gives beer sales a push in city 

In 2014, the state government had extended the deadline for pubs and bars in the city from 11 pm to 1 am.

Looks like beer lovers have made the best use of extended nightlife in the city. Beer sales have gone up over the past two years, after the government relaxed the deadline for pubs and bars in 2014.

According to sales figures from the Excise Department, growth of beer sales ranged between 4% and 8% per year when nightlife ended at 11 pm. But after the Siddaramaiah government extended the deadline to 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays, growth of sales ranged between 12% and 20%.

The only exception was in 2016-17. And it was not restricted to Bengaluru, but the entire state. Excise department officials said that it might be due to reduced money flow during the drought year.

But alcohol (IMFL) sales have not been so high. According to the Excise Department, sales have not risen significantly, with the spike limited between 1% and 4% in the last five years.

The government, too, tried to cash in. On learning that there has been a rise in the number of beer lovers over the past two years, the government increased the cess on beers by 25%. As a result, the price of 650 ml beer saw a hike of Rs 15-Rs 20.

Bad news for revenue

Sources in the Excise Department said beer sales bring lesser amount of revenue compared to hard liquor. “But from a health perspective, we think beer is safer than hard liquor, which has a high percentage of alcohol,” the source said.

An excise official said the increasing acceptance of beer as a drink fit for social occasions might also have given a sales push. “Youngsters are going for beer instead of liquor. However, the age of beer consumers is coming down with college students below 18 years of age hitting pubs. That’s a concern,” the official added.

Dr Dhananjay S, a city-based psychiatrist who has spent 13 years in deaddiction programmes, noted that the assumption that beer was a lesser evil compared to hard liquor was wrong.

“In fact, beer opens the door for addiction. It will have a negative impact, especially on teenagers. Also, beer is not a safe drink when we see the additional calories it brings to the body,” he said.

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