SBDRC – Update

NOTE: For those coming to this without a prior understanding of what is actually happening, can I please suggest that you read the articles that we’ve been publishing over the last two years:
1) Small Brewers Relief Reform – A basic primer on what everything is.
2) Independent, But Not Small – A look at how SIBA was run by the very brewers trying to cause change. SIBA’s has changed with new leadership.
3) SBDRC, Again – Covering production costs of beer, and how false information was deliberately used by SBDRC.
4) SBDRC, SIBA & The Finanacial Effects of Changes to SBR – Applying real world data to the changes proposed by SBDRC and SIBA to show the financial and business implications of the changes proposed by both groups.
5) SBDRC, Yet Again – The Holistic Approach – Looking at not just the immediate change to the SBR relief, but the overall implications for the industry, along with the history of SBR, who pushed for it, and how it’s worked out for them as breweries. And where the money for SBDRC comes from.

Reputation is a fragile thing that is hard thing to build, and an even harder thing to rebuild. As some of the breweries that have been associated with the Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition (SBDRC) since 2017 are waking up to this morning.

Yesterday the Government announced that they were going to be reforming Duty, and whilst not giving out any details that breweries could plan with did state that the upper level for the full relief would be dropped from 5,000 hectolitres to 2,100 hectolitres a year. This is what SBDRC members have wanted, for the smaller breweries to pay more tax so that they themselves could pay less in a cost neutral overhaul of the system.

This is especially horrendous news for the 180 independent breweries that fall into those production levels. Many of whom were already struggling with the near complete shut down of hospitality due to COVID19, and now are finding that any plans they had to start to rebuild their businesses and livelihoods have to be scrapped while we wait for further information.

Quite rightly drinkers are furious too. Not just because many of their favourite small breweries are under serious threat of closure, but also because this isn’t a government driven change but rather one driven by other breweries, some of whom were held in high regard by drinkers and brewers alike.

There is a list of these breweries who have been associated with SBDRC. This list has been available since February 2017 and very few breweries came forward at the time to say they were not part of it. The two latest ones (before yesterday) were Harbour and Magic Rock (now owned by Lion). Harbour were quite vocal when they found out what SBDRC intended and were using the Harbour branding to promote their aims. As were Magic Rock, who employed a few more heartfelt expletives in their response.

This isn’t a new issue. It’s been going on since at least February 2017 when it was first in the trade papers, and again in April 2018 when it flared up again in several regional newspapers.

But now that it is showing that the SBDRC are actually having an effect, and a negative one for so many people in and around the industry, those breweries who have either not noticed that their names and reputations were being used, or who have remained silent on the issue are now waking up to a flood of questions and threats of boycotts from drinkers. Their reputations tarnished.

It’s not beyond repair or hope though. These breweries need to come out vocally against not just the proposed change of reducing the lower threshold for Small Brewers Relief, but also vocally against the SBDRC and their use of the brewery’s name and branding without permission; making them seem more influential than they actually were.These breweries are listed below, and I will update this list with any responses received from them. A statement being provided does not mean they address the lower threshold change, or that they are against it:
(Breweries in red have come out to support SBDRC and the changes : https://www.beerguild.co.uk/news/growth-enhancing-review-of-small-brewers-relief-set-to-save-british-pint-as-we-know-it/ )