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Press Release


New research finds that small brewers are excluded from Government proposals to support beer and pubs 

CAMRA and SIBA are urging the Treasury to amend tax plans to help small brewers and cask beer thrive

New research from the Campaign for Real Ale shows that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s plans for a new way of taxing alcohol excludes many small brewers and cider producers.

The changes, announced in last year’s Budget, offer a different rate of taxation for beer and cider served from draught in order to encourage people to drink in and support local pubs and other licensed venues.

However, the tax break is only applicable for beer and cider served in containers of 40 litres and over, which excludes many of the country’s finest small and independent brewers.

CAMRA research found:

  • 34% of licencees said they stock products in containers less than 40 litres to improve the quality and choice of beer and cider for consumers.
  • 46% of venues said they can only buy some of the beer and cider they want in containers of under 40 litres, particularly if they want to stock beer from small and independent producers.
  • almost 1 in 10 venues don’t have the necessary cellar space or opening patterns to be able to sell beer and cider in larger 40 litre containers.

CAMRA is urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to change his plans to ensure that all consumers, pubs, and small, independent producers can benefit. By reducing the container threshold to 20 litres and over, he could ensure that pub goers have access to a better choice of quality, local and independent beers and ciders, as licensees can sustain quality using smaller containers.

CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said:

“Introducing a new, lower rate of duty for draught beer and cider served in pubs and clubs is a hugely important change which recognises that pubs are a force for good in our communities and should be helped to compete with the likes of supermarkets. While 40 litre containers may be the most commonly used size across all beers, using this as a base point for the draught duty relief is a massive oversimplifaction. As our research shows, the current proposals exclude many small brewers and cider makers – which is unfair.

“If we are to see the benefits of this bold new policy, the Treasury needs to make a small change to their plans and apply this new rate of tax on containers of 20 litres or over. This will help to make sure that all consumers, producers and venues can benefit, and help keep fresh cask ale and real cider alive and thriving up and down the country.”

Chief Executive of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) James Calder said:

“The new draught rate could be a gamechanger for small brewers, pubs and beer enthusiasts, helping the sector to recover from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. But to do so it is imperative that the Treasury includes all the containers that small brewers and community pubs use. To ensure that the freshest beer is served in pubs, many small brewers use smaller 20 and 30 litre containers which are currently excluded from the scheme. This is the Government’s opportunity to stand up for the sector by making it 20 and ensuring everyone can benefit.”


Notes to editors: 

CAMRA carried out a survey of pubs and social clubs between 19 and 30 November 2021. Some questions focussed on the size of draught beer and cider containers that they typically stock, and their reasons for doing so.  

This survey was promoted to pubs and social clubs across Great Britain and 395 respondents answered the section on draught containers.  

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Quotes provided from venues on their reasons for stocking containers less than 40L in size: 

“All independent cider producers we have used sell in 20 or 10 litre bag in boxes and the same with independent breweries who sell in 30 ltr kegs. We only buy from small independent suppliers.” 

“To guarantee quality independently produced products I have to buy the smaller containers that these breweries and cider makers supply them in.” 

“Most of the small independent breweries we use sell in 30ltr and 20ltr. This helps us with keeping the beer fresh for service and a quick turn around to keep customer interest high.”  

“The independent breweries that we buy kegs from (eg Cloudwater, Track, Verdant, Deya,) typically use 30- or 20-litre kegs presumably because this is the maximum size that can be shipped by courier (as opposed to their own drays). Shelf life is not a factor with kegs. For cask beer, our stillage is designed to hold pins or firkins but nothing larger.” 

“We serve craft beer from independent breweries which is typically supplied in 30l, this  helps keep beer fresher and allows us to turnover our beer regularly. Our customers enjoy trying new beers so it is important we are regularly changing to new beers. We also serve bag in box cider straight from the box which is supplied in 20l boxes.” 

“We are a small pub with a small cellar, but want to offer a regularly changing range of local beers/ciders.  Hence the 9 gallon containers.” 

“Most independent breweries will mainly offer 30L. This size is perfect for us to allow a quick rotation of products. Our venue is not suitable for storage of larger containers”