German drinkers can now enjoy heavily-discounted beer by signing up for a pre-paid multi-buy card.
The Kölsch card has been launched by brewers in Cologne, and allows drinkers to purchase 22 glasses of beer in advance for just 25 Euros. It applies to several brands of the local Kölsch style of beer and represents a saving of around 30% on the usual price. So far more than a dozen bars and restaurants have signed up.
The card's creator, Alex Strieder, says he was inspired by the concept of the football club season ticket.
"That is what gave us the idea of the typical Kölsch glass as a symbol. This led on to the pubs and the idea to save some money with the use of a card," he told the Daily Mail.
"If customers are loyal to us, we'll be loyal to them and keep prices down. It's safer than using cash too. Who would mug someone for a glass of beer?"
It's apparently very popular with locals, with one commenting: "All I have to bring is one little card. It means cheaper beer and I don't have to remember my wallet."
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Multi-buy deals on alcohol are controversial. The Kölsch card allows punters to have up to ten drinks at each participating outlet per day - although as its creators point out, "Of course, you can then move on to another partner and use your Kölsch card there for up to 10 additional drinks."
In the UK, a ban on supermarket multi-buy deals on alcohol was introduced in Scotland in October 2011 - but doesn't appear to have been particularly effective in cutting consumption.
Last November, University of Cambridge researchers found that the ban didn't appear to have affected alcohol sales at all. The Scots, it seems, were buying less booze per shopping trip than before, but making up for that with more trips.
Pubs and bars haven't been affected by the legislation. However, since April 2010, they've been banned from offering irresponsible promotions such as speed drinking and "all you can drink for £10"-type offers.
Next month, new licensing laws come into effect which require publicans to consider whether their offers are encouraging binge drinking, or are likely to lead to a significant surge in the number of customers.
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