New tax on high strength beers... - Magic Rock Brewing

If you weren’t aware from the 1st of October 2011 a new duty rate will be introduced for beers above 7.5% ABV.

This new tax rate is supposedly being introduced by the government as an attempt to curb irresponsible drinking of higher strength beers.

As producers and regular drinkers of these type of beers this effects us in a number of ways… For a start it will mean our higher strength offerings such as ‘Human Cannonball’ IIPA and our forthcoming Imperial Stout ‘Bearded Lady’ will pay more tax and therefore cost you more to buy at the tap/in the bottle. It will also mean many of the specialist beers we enjoy will rise in price.

How does that make us feel? Probably a little confused more than anything else. Clearly the price rise on stronger beers is going to create an added barrier to beer drinkers wanting to expand their beer experiences, but will it stop the hardened beer aficionados drinking stronger beers? probably not.

The niche ‘craft’ sector of the beer market is on the whole upwardly mobile, fanatical and often able and willing to pay high prices for unusual strong and rare imported beers.

An extra £1 a bottle really isn’t going to make a difference to people who are already willingly paying £5, £10 and upwards for bottled strong beers.

The tax is presumably aimed at alcohol dependents who’s drink of choice is Tennants Super or Carlsberg Special Brew, but surely when someone is looking for a low cost high strength alcohol fix they don’t really care whether it’s malt based or fruit based?

Why doesn’t this new tax extend to strong Cider, for example, which is often just as cheaply produced, as well as being more aggressively marketed toward young people?

Or for that matter Wine? All wine is over 7.5% and much of it is available very cheaply, so why pick on beer?

While the new tax will have no bearing on our future production, what’s especially galling about the new tax is the lack of recognition for the 7.5%+ beers so many of us enjoy and the punitive treatment of the developing UK ‘craft’ beer sector.

The government is either unaware that the craft beer market exists or less likely it is actively taxing a niche industry because on the whole the people who enjoy these beers can afford it.

So which is it? Who knows… One thing for sure is the biggest loser in all of this will be the importers, and retailers of strong beer whose job of convincing the public that strong craft beers are worthy of their attention just got a bit harder….