In a joint statement, representatives from Siren Craft Brew, Beavertown Brewery, Magic Rock Brewing Co, Wild Beer Co and Harbour Brewing confirmed that they have asked to be removed from the Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition (SBDRC), but reiterated their commitment to reform of the Small Breweries' Relief scheme (SBR).
The statement read: “Over the past couple of weeks there has been a lot of attention focused on our involvement with Small Brewers Duty Reform [Coalition]. Initially, we put out a hasty statement distancing ourselves completely from the SBDRC. We then removed the statement as information was put to us that we felt we should consider properly and give the proposals a fair hearing.
“The more we have looked at information on all sides, the more intricate and complex the processes and proposals show themselves to be. After taking time to look at this from all angles, we feel ready to now make a more informed statement.
“We have asked to remove ourselves from the list of supporters for the SBDRC.”
Proper debate needed
Explaining the rationale for wanting to be removed from the current list of supporters of the SBDRC, the breweries said: “We do not wish to be associated with any one particular solution or proposal until there has been a proper debate and consensus formed between industry organisations like the British Beer & Pub Association, the Society for Independent Brewers, SBDRC and the Campaign for Real Ale.
“We hope that they can get round a table soon to agree the best path to reform SBR in a way that is beneficial to the growth and future aspirations of all small brewers.”
Reiterating their commitment to reform of SBR, the brewers added: “We firmly believe that there is a need for reform of SBR which is fair to all sizes of brewer, that supports growth and leads to a more sustainable future for the craft sector, however, as part of any proposals we also believe that the 5,000hl should be maintained.”
Small Breweries' Relief explained
Small Breweries' Relief was introduced in 2002 to help breweries producing less than 60,000hl (around 10m pints) per year establish themselves and compete with larger producers.
The current system allows breweries to pay reduced duty rates on a sliding scale, with those producing under 5,000hl (880,000 pints) annually receiving a 50% discount.
Critics of the scheme argue that while it has been instrumental in helping smaller breweries establish themselves, it has created market distortion and discouraged brewers from growing past the 5,000hl mark.
The Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition is a group of around 60 brewers arguing for a reform of the current SBR system. The group is seeking to restrict the full 50% duty discount to breweries producing less than 1,000hl a year, and increase the upper limit at which brewers receive relief to 200,000hl annually.