"Some 6.7 million fewer pints per day are sold over the bar than nine years ago, a loss of nearly a quarter of the volume."

Good news: beer sales are up 1.5 per cent over the past year according to the latest "beer barometer" published by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

These latest figures follow those released at the end of last year, which showed beer in growth for the first time in nearly a decade.

The BBPA attribute this to the end of the beer tax escalator, in March George Osbourne awarded a third consecutive cut in duty for beer as part of his budget.

Credit must also be given to craft and microbrewers who have injected the sector with some much needed energy, too, and those pubcos that have finally come around to the idea that drinkers are thirsty for more local and world brews.

However, delve a little deeper into the numbers and things begin to look a bit less frothy.

For a start, the figures for the start of this year are looking much less robust, with sales down 0.8% overall, which is hardly a strong start to 2015.

What we also see emerge is a strong off-trade, where beer sales are increasing, but a weaker on-trade, where beer is still in decline.

Indeed, the slight overall rise we are seeing goes nowhere near regaining anything like the level of beer sales seen in this sector but nine years ago – 6.7 million fewer pints per day are sold over the bar these days, a loss of nearly a quarter of the volume.

In addition, we are still paying more tax on a pint than anywhere in the EU.
These are depressing numbers, no doubt about it, but they are important ones because no matter how fashionable cider has become, how decent the wine range now is, nor how ubiquitous the cocktail, seven in 10 drinks sold in pubs is still beer.

As BBPA chief executive Bridget Simmonds herself admits, this recovery for beer is fragile.