Smaller brewers report sales growth for local beers

siba beerBritain’s smaller brewers are in “rude health”, according to a new report from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).

Its annual Beer Report reveals that the society’s members grew volume sales by an estimated 7.9% in 2013 to 1.55million barrels – equivalent to nearly 33 million more pints of local beer than in 2012.

SIBA highlighted the increased sales owed much to the scrapping of the beer duty escalator in last year’s Budget.

The Beer Report is based on survey responses from around 250 brewers that belong to SIBA. Membership grew by 11% last year, taking the total to 723, who brew nearly 10,000 different beers between them.

SIBA brewers produced about 4,000 permanent cask ales last year – a 25% increase on the 2012 figure – as well as 5,800 seasonal ales and specials.

Golden ale is the most widely brewed beer, with 97% of SIBA members listing one in their portfolio, while 89% brew a traditional bitter and 60% a strong bitter or IPA.

Stouts and porters are brewed by 53%, while some newer beer styles are making inroads: 14% now brew a varietal or green hop beer and 5% an unfined cask beer.

Draught beer – the vast majority of it in cask – accounts for 85% of SIBA members’ total output. 75% of them now bottle a proportion of their beer – on average, five beers per brewer – and 19% of members are producing some craft beer in keg.

A total of 5,500 people are now directly employed in local brewing, according to the report, while brewers provide indirect employment in the growing number of pubs and bars championing local beer.

SIBA chief executive Julian Grocock said: “Beer Report 2014 should provide the Chancellor with much to cheer, demonstrating as it does the wisdom of his decision this time last year to end the beer duty escalator.

“That decision sent a clear signal that the government recognises the vital contribution that independent brewers, economically and socially, make to the hundreds of localities where they are based.

“In response, our members, feeling more confident in the long-term prospects for our industry, have invested in their businesses by buying new equipment, opening pubs and recruiting new staff.”

With the 2014 Budget a month away, SIBA has joined industry calls for a freeze on beer duty, and details of the investment by local brewers following last year’s duty cut have been presented as part of the association’s Budget submission to the Treasury.

The themes of Beer Report will be continued at BeerX, SIBA’s annual celebration of British beer and brewing, taking place in Sheffield from March 11 to 15. BeerX will stage the SIBA National Beer Competition and Business Awards, a Festival of Beer, a series of seminars delivered by industry experts and speeches from key figures from brewing, pub retailing and politics from the UK and abroad.

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