The brewer and pub operator’s previous charges for access to its dispense equipment, maintenance and technical services, cost brewers and cider makers was typically £145 per line.
A change could mean fair charges for drinks producers of all sizes, “reflecting the significant and growing cost of maintaining draught dispense equipment in an ever-changing market”, said Heineken.
Many pubs work with a system where large or ‘lead brewers’ pay for the install and maintenance of the dispense infrastructure.
Brand owners benefit from the programme because there is no need to supply equipment or have maintenance teams to carry out repairs.
The lead brewer
Typically, the lead brewer is the one with the largest number of brands on the bar of a pub at any given time.
On-trade sales director at Heineken Chris Jowsey said: “Nothing is more important to us than drinkers continuing to get a great selection of excellent-quality pints at their local pub, and licensees receiving a high-quality level of service.
“The problem today is that the playing field is not level and, in such a dynamic market, the system risks becoming unsustainable. We’re making changes to ensure that the pub industry continues to thrive.”
The current charging method, he continued, was introduced more than 20 years ago, when there were fewer beers and ciders in pubs.
However, the resurgence of craft and smaller brewers, has led to operators being interested in providing more choice and rotation on the bar.
Less likely to afford
Yet, smaller brewers were less likely to be able to afford to pay the one-off fee, especially if they were only a guest ale once in the year.
“Our new pay-as-you-go scheme means a fairer structure to smaller brewers and cider makers, who were paying comparatively more under the old scheme,” continued Jowsey.
“Paying for the infrastructure and tech services upkeep is a huge investment and, as the leading player in the industry, we want the on-trade to continue to thrive. To do this, we need an infrastructure that’s sustainable, fair and fit for purpose.”
Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) chief executive Mike Benner said: “Access to market is a huge issue for independent craft brewers and any reduction in access by consumers to quality beers from smaller producers must be taken seriously.
“SIBA is keen to see the full details of how it will work in practice and whether there will be no loss of access and, better still, a sustainable benefit to small brewers.”