Our thoughts on the new duty increase
The Treasury’s Review of Alcohol Taxation announced that beers with an ABV above 7.5 per cent will face extra tax as part of the government’s plans to tackle alcohol related misuse.
In our view, the new plans to raise tax on beers above 7.5%ABV is yet another example of the authorities not tackling the main issue but instead penalising niche, artisan producers like BrewDog. 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 we are 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 Hardcore or a Paradox and consequently is much more likely to buy a much larger volume of discount beer instead.
We want to try and make other people as passionate about great craft beers as we are and promote better understanding of craft beer. The real route of alcohol abuse in the UK is the reckless pricing by the faceless, pathetic monolithic multinational brewers where drinkers are merely pawns in their statistics. We were the first company to publically back the Scottish Government’s proposals for a minimum price per unit on alcohol and feel this would be a much more effective way to address the problem than the new duty levels which will penalise those like BrewDog trying to change UK beer consumption for the better.
In our opinion, CAMRAs support for the proposed legislative changes reflect their own agenda. Not a concern about drinking issues in the UK but a preoccupation with pushing the same bland cask ales that never vary greatly in ABV, flavour or imagination. It's as unimaginative of them to come out in support of this legislation as it is unsurprising. As long as their boring beers, defined on a flavour spectrum of bland 3.5% mild to boring 4.2% bitter are unaffected they remain obliviously content and are callously indifferent to the greater development of the craft beer in the UK. It's a real shame these people are seen to represent the craft ale industry in the UK. They don't represent contemporary thinking about beer and they certainly don't represent BrewDog.
Posted in - news
- After leaving my comments recently I now believe that the government are listening - I have just received a £3.2K tax demand. Thank's again Dave! Beer Hawk15.12.2010
- The main problem we have here is that we (high volume craft ale drinkers/brewers) are a minority. Our focus is trying to convince people that craft ales have been brewed with so much more attention than tasteless low-strength lagers, and the end product has a lot more flavour. Joe Public finds it hard to understand that it is possible to enjoy alcoholic beverages; it shouldn't be standard to buy crates of lager to go and get twatted. Beer should be enjoyed and the taste savoured.
The government's viewpoint and tactics here are obvious - try to please the majority. Binge drinkers still get their cheap lagers for the same low price, and it seems to the public that the government is cutting down on binge drinking by increasing duty on high-strength beers. It's only craft ale drinkers that will realise that this tactic will NOT cut down on binge drinking. No-one else spends the time to realise that the government achieves nothing here other than annoying those trying to improve the industry - and why should they realise when they're not affected?
So a clever tactic from the government, which will please the general public, but will not affect binge drinking.
As for CAMRA - I'm not going to attack or defend them - but their mission goes in a completely different direction to Brewdog's.Simon Bridgwater06.12.2010
- It may be worth noting i have seen some Aberdeen city councilers drinking at the bar..... So some of them out there must enjoy proper beer!
The young gent, i think he is the deputy lord provest and an older chap (I know because i have met him before).
The council have alot on there hands... But hey, worth a shot? They must know people down south etc?Martin05.12.2010
- As a Shareholder and lover of the BrewDog mission, it makes me sigh with resignation and fizz with rage that the idiots we elect to waste our money are looking once again to beer as a relaible source of revenue. They just dont get it - and why would they, they arent part of mainstream society. Excessive alcohol use is a symptom of something, usually unhapiness, but we dont hear them trying to tackle that - its clearly beyond their limited wits.
We need to be vocal about this - why should we accept it? Your MP works for you - make your opinion known!!!!PNC04.12.2010
- Ahhh can we not do somthing about this??
I had a look on the government number 10 website, that you COULD start patitions on.
Unfortunately its no long accepting new patitions.... How anoying!!! Im sure we could have got a fair few signatures!!
Do we now how much extra tax we will get done for!?
Agree with all the comments. Does no one in government have any common sense!!!!!!!Martin03.12.2010
- Completely agree that the government should get off your backs, with regards to strong beers.
Totally disagree that they should go and rape some other companies instead, with minimum pricing.
I want a free country, where a company can sell its products without hinder and I can buy them without hinder too.
Feel a bit disappointed that you think the government should dictate such things to anyone.
- Im all for the Tax on over 7.5ABV
Your overpriced strong beers match the overpriced tax in my opinion!
Love your IPA thoughGazz Will03.12.2010
- As a CAMRA Life Member and BrewDog shareholder (not conflicting interests in any way, in my view) I'm rather sad that that an attack on CAMRA should be hung on their alleged support for increased tax on high strength beers. As a previous poster said, Benner stated that he was 'disappointed' in the tax increase and, whilst I would have preferred a rather stronger reaction, that doesn't amount to support for this awful proposal! Pat Hanson02.12.2010
- No HTML, how quaint. Sorry about that - hopefully you can still read it! Phil02.12.2010
- I'm totally against the demonisation of strong beers; I think it's sheer moral panic, which has been hyped up out of nothing by people like <a href="http://petebrown.blogspot.com/2009/11/dog-jumps-shark.html">Portman</a>.
That said, CAMRA don't officially "support" the increase in duty on strong beers. That's just misrepresentation.
Also, by referring to - and attacking - CAMRA collectively you're effectively attacking CAMRA *members*. The membership obviously hasn't been consulted, but I'd be willing to bet they'd be rather more than disappointed about the duty increase, and highly sceptical about the possibility of <a href="http://www.brewdog.com/blog-article.php?id=153">anyone</a> brewing flavourful beers at less than 3%.Phil02.12.2010
- You are entirely right on alcohol taxation. There should be
• Minimum unit pricing. This would not affect pubs—not even Ruddles Worst at Wetherspoons—but would tackle irresponsible supermarket loss-leader alcohol promotions. This in turn leads to the getting-tanked-up-at-home-before-going-down-the pub syndrome. Pubs are then unfairly blamed for the resultant drunken, violent and anti-social behaviour.
• Progressive taxation by alcoholic strength of all drinks—including spirits. All chancellors (and especially Gordon Brown) have treated spirits irresponsibly leniently so as not to damage Scotch whisky distilling, but the chief beneficiary has been cheap industrial vodka which is the other component in the getting-tanked-up-at-home-before-going-down-the pub syndrome.
But I think you’re being unfair on CAMRA’s response. Benner says the proposed tax increase on beers above 7.5% abv is ‘disappointing’ but welcomes tax cut on low strength beers. Surely Nanny State is an example of a ‘low strength real ale packed full of flavour’?.
And you’re also unfair in slating all average strength beers as ‘bland cask ales that never vary greatly in abv, flavour or imagination’. Many of them are, but they’re not all ‘bland 3.5% mild to boring 4.2% bitter’. In August I had Oakham’s Endless Summer (3.4%) which was packed with flavour, and there are many other examples in the 3.5 - 4.2% range.
Oh, and I love Rip Tide (which I had at The Three Judges in Glasgow), Paradox (which I had at The Anchor at Digbeth in Birmingham) and Punk IPA—which has even appeared a couple of times down here in Stroud.Tim Mars02.12.2010
- If you think a 7.4% beer is swill you're on fucking crack. Barm02.12.2010
- I think it would be appropriate to release a series of beers at 7.49%... The "CAMRA Swill" series... Justin02.12.2010
- James i completley agree with your comments. Off topic i found a american doubld ipa in tescos it was a tesco finest ale is this the same ans hardcore ipa? Callum02.12.2010
- This kind of stuff gives me the shits. A stupid tax so the wowzers can save us from ourselves. Extra taxes on high strenght beers does nothing for to protect the old homeless boozer or kids, it just hurts craft brewers and craft brew lovers.
Higher taxes for tofu I say! hate that shit
- I completely agree that 7.5% abv beers for increased tax is a bad idea. This is not focussing at all on the route of the problem
They blame beer every year yet always freeze spirits' duty. Why is this? Do they not realise that £5 vodka bottles are the real route of the mess of the alcoholicism which some people face?
Beer is always branded as an escape goat because education on beer is so poor in this country. They have their agendas confused and cross-wired and for CAMRA to jump into bed with this is disgusting.
A lot of pre-war beers were above 7.5% and this new tax will hurt breweries whom brew beers above that abv. To stifle that is disgusting. CAMRA are being hypocritical again about the industry and are ignoring imperial stouts and barely wines which are traditional and British and should be rewarded with production instead of condemned with an unfair tax levy.
The greed of the Government is disgusting. They see this is an easy option as a cash cow and are not focusing at all on why there is the problems which this country has To demolish £5 vodka bottles is a start. Make those £15+ and then you have a bitter situation. Beer is an escape goat and it's unjustified and pathetic.
Please release Nanny State at 8%Thomas Marshall01.12.2010
- Indignation aside, what does this realistically mean in terms of a price increase to Tokyo*, Hardcore, Penguin etc? Don Robertson01.12.2010
- It's a conspiracy man! Here in the States, legislation like this comes about because the larger corporation pushes and lobbies the legislative body to protect it's sales and market share. I used to be optimistic, but as I age I'm less inclined to believe things will get better before they get worse. sprale01.12.2010
- D Bailey thinks that Mike Benner has posted a comment on here. He hasn't he has been quoted. By the way has anyone else noted the similarity between Hardknott and BrewDog bottle labels. Probably just coincidence... The Boss01.12.2010
- This is disappointing but not surprising. We are all familiar with politicians issuing statements that are attention/headline grabbing but in practice are ineffectual and do not hit any group or company with the power to really hit back i.e. the large brands and retailers. This is a spineless way to govern. We seldom hear of 'craft beer louts' but being from Newcastle I am very familiar with the sight of drunken people walking the streets with bottles of sweet blue/red liquid or bottles of cheap blended fizzy wine. There is a problem with attitudes toward alcohol consumption in the UK and the Government has a huge part to play in this but at present they seem happy to sidestep the problem as it is easier to hit 'the little guy', make a few quid, avoid upsetting the big players and try to get a bit of positive PR in the process. Chris I agree with you, they are an utter disgrace. Beer Hawk01.12.2010
- i'm from the states so im not as familiar with CAMRA, but this all seems very ill conceived. What about liquor? most spirits are well above 7.5%, so is there a tax on them? again, not sure about the tax situation over there. seems like if they were really concerned about alcoholism in the UK, the govt would put a higher tax on liquor, not quality craft brews that already have higher prices due to quality ingredients. backwards thinking there John01.12.2010
- Again, the overall problem here is the UK's (and the UK Goverment's)attitude to beer: how it is made, how it is sold and how it is consumed. To many uneducated people it would be inconceivable that I might appreciate an 8% or 18% beer for any other reason than to simply get twatted. Yet under these new taxes similarly high ABV wines will be left alone? Because those in society who misuse alcohol only drink beer?! Grrr. See you in Cloisters tonight. GJDunbar01.12.2010
- I think there should be another campaign for craft beers. Is there one? I admit I am a CAMRA member, mainly as they support pubs. But this makes me want to avoid renewing.
If the average drinker in the UK learnt to respect alcohol and taste it, like they do in France and Spain and many other countries, this would certainly ease the issue, not by taxing everyone who likes to enjoy a good craft beer.Francis01.12.2010
- What bastards CAMRA are! Being disappointed by the increase in tax for strong beers. Surely they are worse than Hitler! Ed01.12.2010
- I thought you might have something to say about this when I saw it on the news last night.
I'm a big fan of high ABV beers. For me it offers a better overall depth of flavour.
High ABV beers are a relatively small percentage of the available beverages in the UK and I don't think anyone with a bit of sense/appreciation would hold this corner of the market responsible for whatever alcohol problems the country has. I'd like to know what research this decision is based on?
My guess is that this is a group of uneducated numpties thinking that they can rid the world of tennants super by simply raising tax on high ABV beers.
So when does this come into force? I need to stock up before I get stung!
- Mike, you are silly, the thing that will benefit most from the low ABV tax are the value supermarket brands of beer. This is more, not less likely to drive sales away from pubs.
Pubs DO NOT sell low ABV beer for goodness sake. Low ABV cask does not keep well and very few pubs will stock low ABV cask. C2 maybe, but NOT CASK.
CAMRA have failed on this one in a very big way indeed.Dave Bailey01.12.2010
- I agree. This is a ridiculous situtation. Just thought it would be good to have CAMRA's actual words in the argument.
You have to wonder what shower of numpties are advising this Government.Dom01.12.2010
- Dom, this highlights CAMRAs ineptitude. Craft brewers will not benefit from the reduction in tax on such low abv beer due to the Progressive beer duty. The government plans do one thing and one thing only, they protect the mass producers and punish the independent small brewers.
There is nothing wrong with low abv beer with flavour, Edge is an excellent example. However, it is not high abv beers that are the route of the problem.
CAMRA are so mired they have no idea how this will affect a huge number of UK breweries!
Take Old Chimney who make the astounding Good King Henry at 11%. How does increasing tax on his product reduce the affects of alcohol abuse?
CAMRA owe it to the craft brewing industry to make a stand, use their size and champion our industry instead of sitting back and saying 'great, now we can have some more dishwater produced'.
They are an utter disgraceChris01.12.2010
- I can't say anymore, nail on head!! James, Brewer @ SWB01.12.2010
- Does CAMRA support it or are they just not fighting it? Does that equate to the same thing?
Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive said:
"News that tax will be increased on beers above 7.5% abv is disappointing. However we are pleased that this widely expected increase will be counterbalanced by a tax cut on low strength beers. Reduced tax on low strength beers is good news for pub goers at a time when 29 pubs are closing every week. This move will incentivise brewers to invest in producing new low strength real ales packed full of flavour."Dom01.12.2010