Super troopers finally look to be giving way under pressure

Is pressure on the uncharitably-named "tramp juice" finally making itself felt? Since the 2003 Licensing Act came into force we have seen a steady trickle of retailers agreeing - or being forced by police or licensing authorities - to stop selling superstrength lagers.

Of course these restrictions also stop off-licences selling such upmarket drinks as 10 per cent abv Duvel or award-winning 7.5 per cent abv Thomas Hardy Ale - but that hasn't bothered licensing officers too much.

Now, after holding steady for years, the superstrength lager market has seen a slight decline, and the leading brands have lost value or stayed stagnant.

Brewers have been saying for some time that they will not support superstrength brands any more, and maybe that is finally making its mark - but then these hard-hitting beers are not driven by marketing and advertising, but by demand from their hardcore fan base.

Is this demand really waning? Are retailers, under increasing pressure to prove how responsible they really are, turning away from this kind of custom in favour of less controversial drinks? Or is it just a blip? Only time will tell.

Off-trade market value

Week ending 6 Oct 2007: £139m

Week ending 7 Oct 2006: £141m

Change: -1.3%

Top three brands

1 Carlsberg Special Brew 0

2 Tennent's Super -2

3 Skol Super -18