How Much Does A Beer Really Cost? (A Survey Of 21 Places).

The venerable lion beer

Lion Beer. Our brew is competitive with any international beer and far superior to the local Carlsberg. But how much does it cost? The printed price is Rs. 140 but prices vary widely around Colombo. We called 21 places and put together a list, what we call the Lion Index.

Note that this isn’t comprehensive. We just called some places we know and/or liked and asked/calculated what 675 ml worth (the big bottle) would cost.

What were the results? The cheapest places are obviously the dodgy bars, but Park Street Mews and Barefoot are surprisingly affordable. The higher end restaurants and pubs are not.


The Graph

Here’s the results. We’ve assumed that the base price is Rs. 140, that’s the number in black (Cost). That plus the red bar is the menu price, so the difference is their profit. We’ve also calculated what 10% service and 13% taxes will do to your bill. Put it all together and you can get a Rs. 140 beer pushing 500, easy.


The Table

Menu Price Total (++) Profit Price/ml Price (Unit) Unit
Randoli 190 234 50 0.30 190 625
Ex-Servicemen’s 190 234 50 0.30 190 625
Station 200 246 60 0.32 200 625
Park Street Mews 250 246 110 0.40 250 625
Buba 260 320 120 0.42 260 625
New Colonial 270 332 130 0.43 270 625
Barefoot 300 369 160 0.48 300 625
White Horse 300 369 160 0.48 300 625
Fort Cafe* 333 410 193 0.53 160 300
O! Bar* 350 431 210 0.56 185 330
Harbour Room 370 455 230 0.59 370 625
Cricket Club 385 474 245 0.62 385 625
Colombo Courtyard 400 492 260 0.42 400 625
Havelock Bungalow 425 523 285 0.68 385 625
7 Degrees 430 529 290 0.69 430 625
Inn On The Green 430 529 290 0.69 430 625
Casa Colombo 450 554 310 0.72 450 625
Rize 450 554 310 0.72 450 625
Cheers 450 554 310 0.72 450 625
Gallery 475 584 335 0.76 475 625
Amuseum 1136 1398 996 1.82 600 300

Note that we actually checked 21 places, but the prices at Amuseum (a nightclub) were so insane (Rs. 600 for a small bottle) that we left them off the graph. We called another club – Kama – but they wouldn’t give us a price, meaning it’s nearing infinity. Those guys are rude and that club is unpleasant and too often violent.


If you’re drinking out you can expect to pay between Rs. 234 and Rs. 584 for a bottle of Lion – always at least about Rs. 100 above retail. A bottle can push over 1,000 at nightclubs, but we include that only for reference. It’s really apples and oranges.

A bottle of Lion is cheaper at dodgier bars like Randoli and the Ex-Servicemen’s club, but there is a definite drop off in terms of ambiance there. No women. The dodgier establishments, as charming as they may be to men, really aren’t very woman friendly. They seem rooted in the assumption that women don’t (or shouldn’t) drink – and that ladies certainly don’t like lager. While their minimal profit-taking of Rs. 50 is admirable, the ability for men and women to go out together (inconspicuously) is worth a bit more.

The Conclusion

The cheapest (and probably best) option would be to head over to Keells (not Cargills, which stocks only their horrendous brews, not Lion), buy some bottles and have friends over. Going out often works out to be pretty expensive, and if you’re a woman this means you’re confined to a rotation of the same sort of places – almost all of which belong in the mid to expensive range. That being said, it is nice to go out for a beer sometimes. The Station is pretty affordable, and suprisingly so is Park Street Mews. Barefoot is the classic Sunday or any day place for a cold beer, and they don’t come out too bad as well.

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