Chancellor Alistair Darling has stuck to his guns and increased duty by 2% from midnight tonight.
The pub and brewing industry has lobbied hard, in the form of the Axe the Tax campaign, but the pleas for a duty freeze have fallen on deaf ears once again.
The hike is a further body blow to a beleaguered industry battered by Government regulation and taxation.
Last year, Darling stunned the trade not once, but twice with a combined duty rise of a mammouth 18% and promised further 2% above inflation duty escalator increases for the next four years.
The Chancellor confirmed that the VAT level would increase in December following the 2.5% cut in November, which will spark a further increase in prices as the 8% duty hike introduced to off-set the VAT drop on alcohol is permanent.
The British Beer and Pub Association has warned that a record 39 pubs are closing every week and that 44,000 jobs have been cut from 2000 to 2005 — and a further 75,000 are now at risk.
Death warrant for pubs
"Today's Budget signs the death warrant for thousands of Britain's pubs and for tens of thousands of British jobs," said British Beer and Pub Association director of communications Mark Hastings.
"Pubs play a vital role in the economy and in local communities. Yet six are closing every day and more than 2,000 have gone in the last 12 months alone. The Chancellor's unfair and unjustified announcement today condemns thousands more to shut for good.
"In imposing these additional beer taxes, the Government has wilfully ignored the views of the public, landlords, consumer groups, industry representatives and MPs from all parties who have been calling for action to save the British pub.
"At a time when the rest of the economy is getting a supporting hand, the beer and pub industry is being singled out for punitive action.
"Last year the Chancellor raised beer tax by an eye-watering 18%. Today's rise is a further body blow. The result will be more pubs closing, more jobs being lost and more people consuming alcohol outside supervised, licensed premises."
Mike Benner, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: "It is disappointing that the Chancellor has ignored widespread public concern about the plight of Britain's pubs and decided to press ahead with an increase which will result in yet more valued community pubs closing down.
"Well-run community pubs are already struggling as a result of last year's 18% increase in beer duty and the recession. This further beer duty increase will push more valued pubs over the edge resulting in job losses, reduced Government tax revenue and many more deprived of their favourite local pub."
He added: "Well-run pubs provide an enjoyable and affordable night out in a safe and supervised environment and this duty increase will simply fuel irresponsible drinking of cheap discount alcohol in people's homes, public parks and on the streets."
Wine & Spirit Trade Association chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: "At a time when the Government is offering other industries a helping hand it is extraordinary that it wishes to hurt the drinks industry with further tax increases.
"Thousands of jobs have already been lost in the industry and the decision to go ahead with a further tax increase puts thousands more at risk. It's a bitter irony that with falling sales, these tax hikes are unlikely to deliver the revenues forecast by the Treasury."
Tory leader David Cameron criticised the hikes. "The tax on beer will hit every drinker in every pub in Britain."
More on the Budget...