Hundreds of thousands of beer barrels are rolled out ahead of pubs reopening on Monday

HUNDREDS of thousands of barrels of beer are heading to pubs around the country as landlords and drinkers count down the days till next Monday.

Breweries cranked up production last week as they get ready for boozers opening for the first time since Christmas.

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And shoppers will be out in force as thousands of stores finally throw open their doors on the same day after being given the green light by PM Boris Johnson along with the pubs, restaurants and hairdressers.

Primark said it will open for an extra two hours a day, Ikea promised “staggered entry” to allow social-distancing, Poundland will operate 55 of its stores and John Lewis pledged to reunite customers with the “joy of physical shopping”.

Lockdown-weary Brits are expected to flock to their locals and sink millions of pints of beer, lager and ale on the opening day — and 15 million in the first week.

Some 15,000 pubs – 40 per cent of the total in England – will re-open for outside drinking in beer gardens, car parks and even on roads from April 12.

Up and down the country, the chains and the small independents are gearing up for the big day.


Marston’s is opening 696 beer gardens – about 70 per cent of its English venues. Wetherspoons will open doors at 396 and Young’s 140.

The UK’s 2,000 breweries had to take a gamble two weeks ago to start preparing beer, lager and ale for the re-opening.

Brewers need that time to scale-up their operations to start re-supplying pubs with fresh beer.


Real ale takes around three weeks to brew. And lager typically takes even longer as more time is need to create the fizz.

The closure of pubs has meant many breweries stopped making kegs of lager and casks of ale – focussing on bottle and can production instead.

Some, like JW Lees in Manchester, have continued to brew for supermarkets and off-licences — and have now had to ramp up production for the pubs opening.

The firm sent out 200 barrels – some 57,600 pints (288 pints per brewer’s barrel) for delivery yesterday.

The brewer produces 17 million pints a year. It has 150 pubs and bars in hotels – with about a third set to open on Monday.

With its lager taking five weeks and famous ales, such as Harvest Ale and Manchester Pale Ale, taking three weeks, they began brewing at the start of March.

Head brewer Michael Lees-Jones, said: “We had to keep our fingers crossed and hope the Government stuck to the roadmap to supply pubs.

“Some of our beers are normally for barrel only – but they have yeasts we need to keep alive, so we had to keep brewing.”

He added: “One yeast dates back 5,000 generations to the 1960s — so we had to keep that going.”

Craft-beer specialist Joules Brewery, in Market Drayton, Shropshire, produces 7,000 barrels a year, including its flagship Green Monkey lager.

The firm’s Hames Ellis was happy to be out and about making the first deliveries of kegs yesterday.


In Masham, North Yorkshire, Black Sheep Brewery began its first deliveries of cask beer since December.

And at The Village Pub, in Walthamstow, East London, landlord Carl Elliott removed protective clingfilm from the beer taps and began dusting down the counters as he made preparations for Monday’s opening.

Rules for drinkers will be different to last time, but two that have been scrapped will please most punters — there will be no 10pm curfew and there is no longer a need to buy a “substantial” meal.

Ordering will be table service only, with staff wearing masks and gloves.

Customers must also wear a face covering if they move around, for example to go to the toilet.

Some chains, such as JD Wetherspoon, will offer contactless ordering via a dedicated app. Every pub-goer will be required to check in using the NHS Covid app.

It means they will be alerted to take a test if they happen to sit next to someone who has the bug.

Under the “rule of six”, that number — or two households — can sit together outside for a drink. Pubs will also be able to offer a takeaway service.

Boozers are sure to be packed, especially by thirsty shoppers who will have been able to hit the stores for the first time in months.

Many Primark venues will open an hour earlier and close an hour later to cope with the expected extra demand. Bosses at the chain said the move will help reduce queues, spread demand and give customers more time to shop safely.

CEO Paul Marchant said: “Safety remains at the front of our minds.”

John Lewis will open fitting rooms and allow customers to have their children’s feet measured for shoes. Executive director Pippa Wicks said:

“We are delighted to be welcoming our much-missed customers into our shops once more.”

Furniture chain Ikea said its staggered entry system will keep its customers safe, although hungry shoppers will have to wait a few more weeks to tuck into the Swedish retailer’s famous meatballs in its restaurants.

Poundland is reopening 55 stores that have been in hibernation for months, with sites such as Merry Hill shopping centre in Brierley Hill, and one at and Sutton Coldfield, both in the West Midlands opening doors on Monday.

The chain has created 400 new jobs as part of its £25million transformation programme launched last July, which includes new shop openings and relocations, as well as store revamps.

MD Barry Williams said: “We know that many will be making their first tentative steps back into their town centres after being away for some time – we can’t wait to welcome them and say hello.”

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