So just a couple weeks ago I found out about a Brewery Coalition between many of the UKs Medium to large breweries, the purpose of the Coalition is apparently to make changes to the Government beer duty Scheme so they take what they consider to be an unfair advantage away from Microbreweries so they can be more competitive, This is a subject I feel strongly about so I thought I would write a blog to get a few things off of my chest.
OK so I joined the Craft beer revolution around 3 years ago when I started brewing under our pub, since then I have grown a huge amount of passion for this industry and respect for the people that have changed our beer scene for what I hoped would be forever, I remember growing up with a narrow selection of beers, no expectancy on the landlord, simply put beer on the bar and we will drink it, looking back it was just so deflating, we was in a beer depression and we didn't even know it.
Fast forward several years and we now have choice and I mean mega choice, different styles of beer from around the World are brewed right here in the UK along with new styles that are being conjured up by beer artists almost weekly, name a cool ingredient and it gets brewed with, in short within our beer industry there is something for everybody and for the first time since I can remember ladies are getting into beer also which is just brilliant.
Real Ale which is for me our national drink is brewed by Large, Medium and small breweries across the country, every consumer makes his choice as to where his support goes, many wanting to stick with their beloved pint of Ale, others are enjoying a more varied range, who really cares who drinks what, for christ sake we have a choice, just enjoy your beer, wherever its from.
So all has been going swimmingly well, I honestly couldn't believe my luck when I found out how friendly this market was, brewers helping each other and lending each other bits and bobs, helping sell others beers, its amazing.
Unbeknown to the smaller breweries a plan has been afoot in higher ranks and perhaps what was perceived as a we all get along feeling wasn't both ways between the new breweries who have injected fun and excitement into the industry and the medium size who of course brew their Wonderfull tipples also.
So what is the Coalition objectives.
Simply put they want to change the way duty is currently paid so they are equal to small breweries or if not I think abolished so small breweries pay the same as them.
What will happen if they get their way?
Small breweries will have no choice but to close their doors, they will be unviable.
So I run the smallest brewery possible I think and produce around 800 pints per brew, this takes me a day and I have a brewers mate who helps, we love what we do but it is a labour of love, compare this to at least one of the breweries on the coalition who brews 165,000 pints a day, I don't know how many brewers is used for this but I can guess its not many at all, you see its a Scales game, the larger you become the better your equipment and the easier it is to brew, automation being the biggest factor.
Just from the above numbers its simple to see who perhaps undercuts who, I run a bar and did before we opened our brewery and the games that are played to win bar space is just incredible, I was offered casks for as little as £52, wow £52, now could it of been the Small brewery that offered such a ridiculous price, you've got it, no its the larger breweries and why ? well its because they can afford to, their ingredients are way cheaper, and they are far more efficient, what is 1 cheap cask if you brew 700 a day ? but what is 1 cheap cask if you brew 12 casks a day and pay a high price for materials?
I might of gone off subject here a little but the point I'm making is its about Scale.
So what happens if the coalition persuade the government to drop middle sized breweries duty to match us super small chaps ? , well its simple, they can drop in price even further and Microbreweries will be forced out of the market as they will simply not be able to sell beer, of course the Coalition already knows this.
So what happens if the coalition persuade the government to raise small brewers duty to be in line with theirs, well thats also simple, the prices will have to go up to absorb this so they can pay their bills, obviously they will be to expensive and will be unable to make sales, forcing the brewery out of business, of course the Coalition already knows this..
In short the Coalition have had enough of the fun that is going on under their feet, the kids are growing up to fast now so its time to put them to bed so they can have the TV to themselves, shame on you Mum and Dad, theres still so much play time left, its only 6 o clock.
If you read about the Coalition please please do not give in to their sob stories, they are simply pathetic and should fall on death ears, here is a narrow minded group that have darkened the doors of the UK beer industry, we may be small breweries but we are as important for growth as you are.
You need duty changes so you can go from mid to large scale, lovely position to be in.
We need them to stay the same or we have to close, all of the small breweries dream of one day ending their career in a position as any brewery in the coalition, it would be a Wonderfull luxury.
If the winging bunch get their way where will things stop ?
VAT - When we opened our little restaurant we had a successful first year and soon moved to a bigger premises, our turnover doubled and of course we was forced to register for VAT as we went over the threshold, meaning from every meal sold a percentage went straight to the tax man and we took less per sale. Did we moan about this, yes , did we accept it , yes and why did we accept, well because although we might of been making less per sale we were making more sales and could afford to have other people doing our washing up so it was one less job for us to do, we had extra kitchen staff and a good barman, were could produce more meals from probably the same energy output from us, you see it is called Scale, make more sales, compensate and grow if you can, will the Coalition be attacking this system next ? once again for the people at the back SCALE
Do we look at the people who are not VAT registered and want to ruin their business ? of course not, because we UNDERSTAND SCALE.
Benefits - So the UK has a benefit system that protects people less fortunate than others, meaning if you have a problem in your life you get a little help to keep you ticking along.
But what if this was extended to people who are already earning a decent wage ? well of course they will happily accept the money and take an extra holiday, thanks very much, NO you can't as the money isn't needed by you and you are just being greedy trying to take a share, its for the people that need it so they can elevate themselves up a little bit and try and kickstart their dreams, your already living yours.
What are my personal thoughts as a Pub lover and beer lover.
Well you might of guessed it, I'm simply appauled at each and every brewery in the Coalition, I'm disgusted by the Camra member who suggested he would rather lose 100 micros than 1 medium sized brewery and I'm apauled by ourselves who in over a year still haven't addressed this, is this because small brewers are to busy brewing ? possibly.
The Coalition are concentrating on their growth and not the industry, perhaps they have outgrown enjoying their time within.
If I was a medium sized brewer I would enjoy my success and not become the kid at school that puts everybody else around him down to make himself look cooler, be like the microbreweries, just be cool in your own right and don't worry about the others.
Want to see their side of the story, click here http://cask-marque.co.uk/cask-matters/small-breweries-reform-coalition/