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Lower-strength beer the way forward with 35p tax drop

By Luke Nicholls , 30-Sep-2011

Britain’s 5,000 beer brands bare to be boosted by new entrants into the lower-tax category as the fifty per cent tax break on lower strength beers goes live tomorrow.

All beers with alcohol content of 2.8 per cent abv and below will be taxed less, to the equivalent of around 35 pence on every pint when compared with a typical 4.2 per cent beer.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has welcomed the move, claiming that high levels of research and innovation among brewers will lead to a proliferation of high-quality, low-strength brews. This would therefore provide an even bigger incentive for drinkers to try lower-strength products.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “From today, its official - lower-strength drinks like beer are better for you, according to the taxman. The Government deserves credit for nudging drinkers in this direction, and of course, all beers are low in strength compared with other forms of alcohol.

Huge boost

Britain’s beer drinkers can already enjoy a number of beers under 2.8 per cent, such as C2 from Molson Coors, Tennent’s Sweetheart Stout, Harvey’s Sweet Sussex, Mann’s Brown Ale (Marston’s), and Whitbread Best Mild (AB Inbev). New beers already announced include Golden Lite, a new lager at 2.8 per cent from J W Lees, and the reduction in strength of Skol lager, from 3 per cent to 2.8 per cent abv (Carlsberg).

“We’d now like to see a move to raise the new threshold from 2.8 to 3.5 per cent,” added Simmonds. “This would benefit many more beers, and add a huge boost to lower-strength drinks.

“And as beer is the drink of pubs, let’s not forget that a 35p tax reduction on some beers will help pubs that are struggling.”

BigHospitality recently reported on Greene King’s new release of Tolly English Ale , which will also benefit from the Small Beer Duty Law.