Thursday, 8 March 2018

The state of Micro-Brewing

There is a lot wrong with the beer industry.

"What?" I hear you say, "There are loads of breweries out there, and the choice is fantastic"

"Not only that" you are bound to continue, "The Government has fixed the problem of the beer tie by forcing pub companies to allow market rent only deals"

"And look, I've seen various brewers, big and small helping each other out" no doubt you'll explain with exasperated irritation in an attempt to convince me that the whole brewing industry is a friendly place.

Well, it is a significantly less friendly place than you might believe. I have friends in the brewing industry, this is true. I even have some personal friends in organisations that I am probably about to upset. There are quite a few breweries that I would always be happy to pally up to, mostly they are either around the same size as my very modest business or perhaps just a shade bigger than me.

What I can say is that there is a growing underground of like-minded brewers that are becoming increasingly irritated at the way things are going. We are looking to fight back against what is becoming an apparent attempt by the established industry to do it in for micro-brewing.

Brewing is becoming a very, very aggressive and unpleasant place to be. Since I started brewing overall UK beer sales have dropped by 25%. In contrast the number of breweries has quadrupled. The wholesale price of beer is dropping and many of the people I am talking to on a daily basis are losing sales volume in an alarming way.

I want to write a lot about this, but have increasingly felt the need to hold my tongue over the last few years. Doing collaborations with large PLC brewers and working closely with SIBA have in particular inhibited me from speaking out as much as I'd like to.1

Meanwhile I see my sales dropping, at a time when really I need to grow them to survive.
Coincidence? I don't think so.

I have a lot to say and the success of my business was built in the early years by my blog and the way I wrote it. I feel I have been gagged by engaging with the broader brewing industry and reigning in my thoughts in the mean time.

I am therefore intending on entering a new phase of engagement in a much more open and honest way, without fear or favour and explain where I think things are going wrong and how that might well see a partial collapse and retreat of the micro-brewing sector of the industry in the near future.

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1The reasons for this are complex, multi-faceted and beyond the scope of this initial post, but I'll be following up with further posts explaining this in detail.

2 comments:

fat hipster said...

Disappointed to see SIBA snuggling up with the Portman Group to develop codes of conduct on Sexism especially after what Portman Group and its members did to SIBA members recently. SIBA has plenty of capable members already involved in the sexism in beer debate ,who will be more than willing to have input on a SIBA code of conduct. Why would an independent brewer want to adopt rules drawn up by multinational mega brewers who do their utmost to ruin small brewers?
SIBA losing touch with its members.

Unknown said...

Very interested to understand the issue from your perspective. As a publican the constantly increasing price of beer and declining consumption makes no sense. Nor does the huge increase in breweries - welcome though they are.
Too much of the money in the industry is getting stuck in the middle with large PubCos and brewcos while access to the market for the new breweries seems highly restricted.