SIBA: Craft beer boom shows no sign of slowing down

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

SIBA's Mike Benner: "People are optimistic for the future, and investing in their businesses."
SIBA's Mike Benner: "People are optimistic for the future, and investing in their businesses."

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Craft beer is continuing to boom, with brewers forecasting rapid growth this year, according to the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).

The group’s managing director Mike Benner spoke at BeerX, the association’s festival which showcases independent craft brewers, and revealed that four out of five of its members expected increased turnover this year, and one in six expected a 25% boost.

“People are optimistic for the future, and investing in their businesses. There is confidence in the market place. Local jobs are being created,” he said.

Benner spoke of the struggles the industry has against new legislation, but welcomed a beer duty freeze in the Budget.

He revealed that 12.3% of savings available thanks to recent duty cuts were spent on pub acquisitions by small brewers last year.

Pub closures

“We are still seeing pubs close but those that are staying open are better,” he added.

Benner praised craft brewers’ contribution to local communities, having created 930 jobs last year alone.

Craft now boasts 7% of the UK beer market, according to SIBA’s latest reports, with the percentage of canned craft beer now representing 1% of the market and expected to rise “significantly” this year. The proportion of cask sales shrinking in comparison to cans and keg, which is also set to see strong growth.

Benner said global breweries have realised the opportunity that craft beer offers.

SIBA saw growth from its members last last year, with more than 3 million hectrelitres produced by its members.

Consumer values

Modern consumer values will continue to drive the craft beer boom in upcoming years, according to Enterprise Inns’ chief executive.

Speaking at the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) BeerX festival, Simon Townsend said he’s expecting ‘significant growth’ in the sector.

“The local consumer who wants authenticity, provenance and transparency plays into the hands of local independent brewers,” he said.

Recent research by the PMA​’s sister title MCA​ found that 95% of licensees said their customers are interested in locally brewed beers.

Townsend continued: “It’s not just location the research reflects, it’s the knowledge and authenticity as well.

“We need to make it more of an experience. It’s not just about being local it’s about being authentic and trusted. Local is not the answer on its own.”

And Townsend said more can be done to grow the category.

“Local brewers can help pubs to make more of the pub and beer experience. Pubs need to know about the service, presentation and information to understand the category,” he added.


SIBA’s latest survey found that four out of five of its members expected increased turnover this year, and one in six expected a 25% boost.

Also speaking at BeerX, Stephen Gould, managing director of Everards Brewery, said the growth should be “embraced”.

“I don’t think we’re at the stage where there are too many breweries. The fragmentation of the industry is a positive.

“There will come a point when there are too many, but we aren’t there yet. As there are more and more independent breweries we will have to adapt, so that rather than treading on each other’s toes brewers are collaborating.”

Gould said new Government drinking advice of a maximum of 14 units a week is dangerous to the industry.

“We need to be very watchful that alcohol isn’t demonised. A small amount of alcohol consumption is proven to have health benefits,” he said.

Rupert Thompson of Hogs Back Brewery, echoed his concerns.

He said: “Alcohol advice is a threat. We have got to address it otherwise it’s likely we will be dismissed.

“We have to be very proud of what our industry does - the broader benefits and social cohesion. We have to stand our ground on this”

Thompson also urged the industry to focus on education of craft products to grow the category.

“If people can understand what it is then we will make great progress,” he said.

“They might not be everyone’s cup of tea but Brew Dog are doing some great things in their pubs. The level of knowledge and level of passion is almost unprecedented.

“I’m sure that growth will continue, but we do need to look carefully at sustainability and profitability,” he added.

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