Exclusive: UK craft beer booms
Microbrewers buck downward trend
The boom in Britain’s craft and micro-brewing sector has been laid bare in research carried out exclusively for BG’s sister publication The Brewery Manual 2010.
Of the 736 breweries producing fewer than 30,000 hl a year catalogued in this year’s manual, 424 were set up in the last seven years, representing perhaps the steepest increase in brewery openings the country has ever seen.
The research also suggested that of these smaller breweries, all of which qualify for tax relief under the progressive beer duties introduced in 2002, a third (32%) have increased output in the past year. Only 3% reported a fall in production.
The findings are in contrast to the overall situation in the UK. While figures released by the British Beer and Pub Association this week suggest a slowing in the rate of decline of overall beer sales, last year sales still slumped by 4.9%.
So what is fuelling this trend-bucking growth amongst Britain’s smaller players? “Supermarkets are more willing to give unknown products a bit of space on the shelves,” said Scott Williams from Scotland’s William Bros Brewing Co.
Supermarkets across the country have been increasing their ranges of bottled ales in recent years, with many showing greater interest in brands that can be sold on their local provenance.
“It is also down to localism,” agreed David Grant, managing director of Lancashire brewery Moorhouse’s. “We’re not after conquering the world, we’d just like to conquer the local area.”
Brewers like Moorhouse’s – set to commission a new £3.5 million brewhouse in July - have been buoyed by the renewed interest in cask beer, the only sector to have shown, albeit modest (1% in H1 2009) growth last year.
The coming year will see British craft brewers, from London to Aberdeen, increasing capacity as demand for their brews increases. Scots brewer BrewDog is trying to raise £2.3 million for a new plant while down in Greenwich, Meantime Brewing Co is in the process of putting together a new £1.5 million facility.
The renaissance in smaller-scale British brewers can in part be put down to the introduction of progressive beer duties in 2002 which set up a sliding scale of tax relief for brewers of between 5,000 and 30,000 hl a year. In 2004 the ceiling was raised to 60,000hl.
For full analysis of the current state of the British brewing industry, plus listings of all the players in today’s market and a who’s who guide of the sector’s movers and shakers, order your copy of The Brewery Manual.