Boom in small breweries boosted by Government policy, says new report

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

The report highlights the success of Small Breweries’ Relief
The report highlights the success of Small Breweries’ Relief

Related tags Drinks

There has been a boom in small breweries and a huge increase in the number of different beer styles being brewed over the last 20 years due to Small Breweries’ Relief (SBR), a new report by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has revealed.

A new report ‘SBR @ 20’, published to mark the 20-year anniversary of the regulations, has revealed that there are now 1,895 independent breweries in the UK, creating an estimated 10,988 direct jobs.

SBR was introduced by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown with the aim of allowing small breweries to pay a lower rate of duty on the beer they brewed. The sliding-scale policy meant the smallest brewers received a 50% rate relief, with the relief gradually reducing depending on the size of the brewery. 

New businesses

Under changes announced last year SBR will be replaced by a new ‘Small Producer Relief’ which will, alongside beer, include other drinks from small producers such as cider.  

“The sector has come a long way over the past few decades. Within only a few years of its introduction SBR had created over 100 new businesses and at least several hundred jobs that would not have existed.”​ Roy Allkin, SIBA Chairman, writes in the foreword to the report.

“Twenty years later and that has translated into almost nineteen hundred brewing businesses, with a small independent brewery in nearly every constituency, supporting thousands of jobs at the heart of our community.” 

Beer styles

The report has also analysed beer styles being brewed by small independent breweries highlighting the rise craft lager.  However, Mild and Brown Bitters have fallen out of favour with brewers and have seen a steep decline in production. 

The growth in the number of breweries in the UK market has led to more experimentation and a quest to create new and more interesting beers. For the first time, in this year’s SIBA members’ survey the most produced style of beer was not that old favourite golden bitter, but rather stout/porter,” ​said ​Caroline Nodder, editor of the SIBA Craft Beer Report 2022 and contributor to the SBR @ 20 Report.

“And where in the past 90% of brewers have produced a bitter, our latest survey shows a much more even spread over a whole range of different styles, including some new ones such as no and low alcohol and gluten free styles.”

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