Drink Talking: Nick Stafford

Related tags Small brewers Independent family brewers Beer

Small brewers are in the spotlight once again. Licensees should do all they can to sell their local brew to customers, says Nick Stafford, commercial...

Small brewers are in the spotlight once again. Licensees should do all they can to sell their local brew to customers, says Nick Stafford, commercial director at SIBA.

It's hit the headlines again. Champion Beer of Britain goes to another small brewer! The little guys always seem to carry away loads of awards at the Great British Beer Festival.

Scottish brewers managed to keep the coveted title for two years, but an English brewer has dragged it south again.

I'm sure that next year some of the fine ales emanating from Wales will have a great chance.

I am not attempting to be politically correct, but only stating the screamingly obvious. There are over 400 small breweries in the UK producing many hundreds of top quality British beer brands and this year one of them (Harviestoun Brewery's Bitter and Twisted) claimed the Gold Award at the Brewing Industry International Awards - the global competition.

Another first in the beer industry was perhaps a less remarkable event. Never before have the chief protagonists of cask ale combined forces to produce a report that has upset the industry norm.

The Real Cask Beer report, jointly released by the Independent Family Brewers of Britain (IFBB), the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) shows ale from regional and local brewers is booming where sold.

Cask ale from small, local brewers has been increasing at an almost ridiculous rate for the last three years.

Consumers want to drink it.

We all know there are pubs to which cask ale is not suited. But I appeal to others, particularly those thousands of self-employed entrepreneurs known as freetraders, tenants and lessees.

Consider that your business may be missing out on an exciting opportunity. Make contact with a supplier who, essentially being a micro-businessman or woman like you, understands the pressures you are under.

Many licensees will be tied to pubco agreements, restricting the ability to choose products and the way in which they are delivered. Do not despair, contact your pubco business development manager and ask if a local brewer's beers are available and, if not, why not?

The Trade and Industry commons select committee is asking; you may never have a more receptive ear.

SIBA operates a highly successful direct delivery scheme that proves it is possible to meet everyone's requirements. Other highly reputable wholesalers could do the same.

Many pubcos allow you to access the supply market, but it is high time the complex monopoly controlling choice and logistics is comprehensively challenged by those who suffer most - the self-employed, entrepreneurial licensees. We small brewers will support you.

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