Launched by a group of small brewers, the new arm of the Forum of British Pubs aims to offer a strong voice to the growing number of small local beer makers producing less than 10,000HL of beer annually.
Ultimately, the Small Brewers’ Forum aims to level the playing field between the beer sector’s biggest players and smaller producers to ensure that the latter are afforded bar top presence in Britain’s pubs alongside pours supplied to tenant landlords by pub-owning brewers.
The launch of the Small Brewers’ Forum follows the formation of its parent organisation the Forum of British Pubs in June 2020 by The Forum of Private Business and ‘Pub Defender’ Dave Mountford in a bid to ‘protect and preserve British pubs and the publicans who operate them’ in light of issues exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Small Brewers Relief campaign
One of the Forum’s first actions will be launching new campaign, “Small Brewers, Fighting for Fairness” to campaign on the issues of Small Brewers’ Relief (SBR) and access to the market.
As previously reported by The Morning Advertiser (The MA) the Government announced its decision to reduce the SBR threshold from 5,000HL of annual production to 2,100HL on 22 July as part of a broader bid to help small businesses via measures including a shake-up of business rates and a pledge to reform the UK’s alcohol duty rates, which are currently among the highest in Europe.
While The British Beer and Pub Association – whose members are responsible for 90% of the beer brewed in Britain and represents around 20,000 of its pubs according to its website – welcomed the threshold change, James Calder, the chief executive of the Society for Independent Brewers, expressed “huge disappointment” in the Government’s decision, stating that there are around 150 breweries in the UK which, pre-pandemic, sat between 2,100HL and 5,000HL of production volume and will now see their duty payments soar.
“Many small brewers feel that the Treasury’s suggested changes to SBR will make the job of Britain’s smaller brewers even more difficult, restricting their ability to grow and survive, as well as contributing to a restriction in consumer choice, as they already face issues in access to the pub market,” a statement from the Forum of British Pubs explained.
The launch of the campaign also follows the creation of a petition calling on the Government to reverse proposed changes to the SBR threshold which received more than 7,000 signatures in 24 hours.