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Duty on beer has been slashed. Unless you are a micro-brewer that is, in which case beer duty goes up.

I blogged about it more than once when it was first announced. Unfortunately, the arguments I put seemed a little to complex for most of you to get on your high horse about it then.

I'll put it simply:

  • The low ABV duty discount can only be claimed by brewers who do not get small brewers discount.
  • CAMRA campaigned for the low ABV discount.
  • Below 2.8% cask beer is not practical as it has low demand and goes off faster.
  • The duty rise on 7.5% beer is to pay for the low ABV discount.
  • Low ABV discount can only be claimed by supermarket own brands, large brewery "mid strength" lagers and perhaps some large cask beer producers.
  • At present, we are unsure how the high ABV is to be calculated1, but there is a suggestion that micro-brewers making beer over 7.5% might be charged 150% more due to us loosing our small brewers discount on these beers.
  • Until now beer duty was completely fair - duty was charged per unit volume of alcohol. Not any more.
Overall, CAMRA are claiming it as good news. IT IS NOT.

Chasing a discount on beers under 3.5%, which CAMRA are doing, will only cause the Government to put up beer duty somewhere else - you have been warned.


Magic Rock also have some stuff to say on the subject.

1Since I first published this post I looked into the facts. HMRC have never sent any information, but I did research when the budget announcement was made. As I suspected it is confirmed that we are still permitted the discount on the regular part of beer duty but not the High Strength Beer Duty. Our duty will go up by 50% on all beers above 7.5%

"Small Brewer's Relief is still available on the general beer duty element of beer above 7.5% abv. However, it does not apply to HSBD and no further relief will be applied to the reduced rate for lower strength beers."
There is information on the HMRC site for those concerned.