Number of UK breweries rises 64% in five years

There are now over 2,000 breweries in the UK, the most since the 1930s

Emma Featherstone
Monday 23 October 2017 12:43 BST
There hasn’t been so many breweries in the UK since the 1930s
There hasn’t been so many breweries in the UK since the 1930s (PA)

The craft beer revolution has seen the number of UK breweries surpass 2,000 – the highest since the 1930s, new figures reveal.

According to accountancy UHY Hacker Young, there are 64 per cent more breweries now than there were five years ago. UHY Hacker Young received the data from HMRC based on an analysis of companies that have registered for beer duty.

Beer entrepreneurs have been integral to this growth, with the amount of breweries increasing by 18 per cent in a single year, from 1,692 in 2015 to 1,994 at the end of 2016.

Micro brewing has been encouraged by a tax break that was introduced in 2002, which allows brewers producing less than 5,000 hectolitres to pay 50 per cent less beer duty than larger companies.

UHY Hacker Young says the increasing number of mergers and acquisition deals in the sector continues to attract investors who in turn help to fund microbreweries.

Meanwhile, the brewing industry’s success is enticing private equity firms. One example is a recent investment by L Catterton, a private equity fund backed by the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, in Scottish craft brewer Innis & Gunn.

UHY Hacker Young says that as more craft breweries are bought out by major companies some may decide to shut down the smaller company’s original brewery, which could see overall brewery numbers reduced.

In July, for example, Carlsberg acquired London Fields Brewery, which had been up for sale following its founder reportedly being charged with, and later cleared of, tax fraud. And Camden Town Brewery’s 2015 buy-out by AB InBev – which also owns Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s – caused controversy among beer fans.

James Simmonds, a partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: “The craft beer boom has reversed around 70 years of consolidation in the brewing industry. There is plenty of growth still to come. However, the majors are beginning to make a fightback by acquiring craft brewers and launching their own artisan style brands like Hop House 13 Lager.”

He added: “The craft brewers can’t afford to rest on their laurels they will need to work hard to get their product into that limited shelf space and bar space.”

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