In an interview with the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, Dewey said the craft beer movement had both helped and hindered the beer industry.
“There’s no question that the rapid growth of breweries and the innovation in product has re-stimulated the interest in real ale. However, one of things that has stimulated the growth of micro-breweries is small breweries’ relief (SBR). When you think of something craft, you think of something made hands on and something you expect to pay a premium for. But the reality is the majority of craft brewers are being marketed into the trade at lower prices than standard beers because duty rates are so much lower.”
SBR is a beer duty system that allows smaller breweries to pay less tax on their products. Many brewers have argued for a more level playing field when it comes to tax.
“In my opinion, craft beer should be helping to stretch the value chain and the value of the category, and if anything it’s devaluing it,” Dewey added.
Dewey, who has previously worked at the Drambuie Liqueur Company and Diageo predecessor International Distillers and Vintners, argued that real ale has failed to tap into the premiumisation trend driving growth in the spirits market, most noticeably in vodka and gin.
“When I first started out in the spirits industry, there was only own brand label and vodka. Everyone dismissed Absolut when it first came on the scene and said no-one would be prepared to pay the higher prices. But if you look at the industry now, Absolut has done really well but so have products several price points about it,” he said.
“If you do an analysis of ale, what you see is the pricing is very flat, whereas most markets have cheap, standard and deluxe products.”
He added that his passion for the pub sector was sparked during his time as student at Oxford, and that bars in his native US had failed to capture the community spirit of British pubs.
Dewey took the helm at the Yorkshire-based brewery in September last year, taking over from Charles Dent.