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Wed 26th Feb 2014 - Breaking News - Small brewers report 7.9% rise in volumes
Small brewers report 7.9% rise in volumes: Independent brewers are reaping the benefits of the scrapping of the beer duty escalator in last year’s Budget with increased sales. According to Beer Report 2014, published today by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), its members grew volume sales by an estimated 7.9% in 2013 to 1.55 million barrels – meaning the nation’s beer lovers drank nearly 33 million more pints of local beer than in 2012. Beer Report, based on survey responses from around 250 SIBA brewers, paints a picture of an industry in rude health. As well as growing volumes, SIBA’s brewing members swelled last year by 11%, taking the total to 723. Between them, they brewed close to 10,000 different beers – including permanent and seasonal brews. They also created 900 new jobs and 60% of them made a significant capital investment in their business. Julian Grocock, SIBA chief executive, said: “Beer Report 2014 should provide the Chancellor with much to cheer, demonstrating as it does the wisdom of his decision this time last year to end the beer duty escalator. That decision sent a clear signal that the government recognises the vital contribution that independent brewers, economically and socially, make to the hundreds of localities where they are based. In response, our members, feeling more confident in the long-term prospects for our industry, have invested in their businesses by buying new equipment, opening pubs and recruiting new staff.” With the 2014 Budget a month away, SIBA has joined industry calls for a freeze on beer duty, and details of the investment by local brewers following last year’s duty cut have been presented as part of the association’s Budget submission to the Treasury. The sheer number of beers and beer styles available for drinkers in the UK to enjoy is highlighted in Beer Report. SIBA brewers produced some 4,000 permanent cask ales last year – a 25% increase on the 2012 figure – as well as 5,800 seasonals and specials. Golden ale is the most widely brewed beer, with 97% of SIBA members listing one in their portfolio, while 89% brew a traditional bitter and 60% a strong bitter or IPA. Stouts and porters are brewed by 53%, while further down the table, some newer beer styles are making inroads: 14% now brew a varietal or green hop beer and 5% an unfined cask beer. Draught beer – the vast majority of it in cask – accounts for 85% of SIBA members’ total output. 75% of them now bottle a proportion of their beer – on average, five beers per brewer – and 19% of members are producing some craft beer in keg. The choice of beers available to today’s drinker stands in contrast to the shrunken brewing industry that existed in 1975, when the Good Beer Guide listed 87 brewers producing a total of 1,500 beers. Beer Report credits this rejuvenation of British brewing both to the pioneering microbrewers of the 1970s, including the late Peter Austin, who was SIBA’s founding chairman in 1980, and to CAMRA, founded in 1971. The influence of those microbrewers spreads beyond the local brewing sector in this country, as Grocock points out: “Long-lived regional and national brewers have installed small-batch ‘craft’ plants so they can experiment themselves, while foreign microbrewers – primarily in the USA – have embraced traditional British styles at the same time as pushing the boundaries of innovation, which is especially true of modern IPAs.” The majority of SIBA brewers wholeheartedly embrace their responsibilities to the locality where they operate, and it would be hard to find a better example of positive ‘localism’ than that demonstrated by these small businesses, said Grocock. Small brewers’ greatest contribution is to provide local employment, he argued. A total of 5,500 people are now directly employed in local brewing. And, because brewing at the smaller end of the market is labour-intensive, local brewers need a proportionally higher workforce. Brewers producing 1,000HL or fewer employ one person for every 500HL of output, compared to one per 3,000HL in larger breweries. Beer Report outlines local brewers’ commitment to a raft of environmentally-aware measures, from constructing ‘green’ premises (26%) to reducing energy consumption (73%), reducing water use (64%) and cutting ‘food miles’ (41%). Wolf Brewery in Norfolk is applauded for its new waste water treatment, which has eliminated the need for tankers, reducing C02 emissions and delivering considerable cost savings. Grocock added: “Beer Report 2014 is the 12th annual overview of the brewing industry produced by SIBA. We are delighted that, once again, we are able to portray a successful, vibrant and innovative independent brewing sector. The report also presents a holistic view of SIBA as a unifying force in British brewing: our commercial arm helps independent brewers to grow their businesses; our community roots and infrastructure mean our success generates investment, employment and wealth locally; our commitment to responsible and ethical business underpins long-term sustainability and social cohesion; and our representation work for our members ensures the ongoing health of local brewing. Occupying this pivotal role, at the heart of communities and economies up and down the land, places local brewers, and SIBA as their representative body, in a unique position to build the future of British brewing. It is a role we will fulfil with commitment and passion, as we have for the last 34 years.” 
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