From October Beers with an ABV above 7.5 per cent will face 25% extra tax as part of the government’s plans to tackle alcohol related misuse.
They are completely toothless in the face of the real roots of alcohol abuse. The new law is completely unfair: If beer duty is to rise, it should rise uniformly.
Instead our business is handicapped in the market place for trying to elevate the status of beer in the UK.
The ABV of a beer has nothing to do with whether it inspires irresponsible drinking and to think otherwise is short-sighted. There is a culture of quantity over quality in the UK beer market; consumers are able to buy mountains of mainstream, 5-6%ABV beer for very little money and this is the kernel of the problem in the UK. Higher alcohol beers, in the main, tend to be more exciting artisanal beers that elevate beer above its current station in Britain and increase awareness of great craft beer.
At present, beer is seen as something you chug down in pints with the sole intention of getting drunk rather than savouring it. To think people consume higher alcohol beers in the same way as a pint of fizzy yellow lager is nothing short of archaic. Penalising those trying to redefine beer, rather than those breweries marketing their beer to be sold in large volumes and at low cost, is just backward thinking. There is now a huge disincentive for a customer to buy a quality craft beer and consequently is much more likely to buy a much larger volume of discount beer instead. There has been a huge growth in UK craft microbreweries in the past year and you would have thought that the government would have wanted to keep that going. There's over 700 UK breweries of which 90% are craft breweries producing artisan beers.
Within our retail business we sell over 600 ales, nearly half are over 7.5% abv. and we don't have any binge drinking clientele? Unfortunately 25% on the price of all those beers will probably mean they will no longer sell very well and our business will no doubt suffer, whereas the supermarkets will benefit as they don't sell those craft beers. Very disappointed, all in all, not a good day to be a beer drinker (or producer).
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