Small Breweries’ Relief, COVID-19 and Beer Competitions Working for Independent British Beer with SIBA's Head of Comms and Marketing, Neil Walker

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In this week’s episode, we catch up with Neil Walker, Head of Comms & Marketing for the Society of Independent Brewers Association.

In order to support growth, boost productivity and remove ‘cliff-edges’, the scheme’s taper will be smoothed. It will take effect more gradually over a wider range of production, starting at 2,100 hectolitres per year, and be converted to a cash basis. A technical consultation will be brought forward in the Autumn.

The Government will also consult on the potential for a grace period for small breweries that decide to merge.”

The announcement has caused alarm and disgust amongst independent British brewers, who now face the prospect of an unknown duty hike should they fall between the annual hectolitreage, with no further details availing themselves until the Autumn budget announcements in October/November.

Naturally, opinions have been divided and the discussions on the subject divisive.

Many small independent breweries and commentators from within the UK industry, including ourselves, their dismay at the Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition who have supported this change.

And yet, on the other hand, breweries such as Timothy Taylor’s Chief Executive Tim Dewey has made an open statement on their website as to why they agree with the changes in beer duty.

Further still, Oakham Ales – a member of SBDRC say that they ‘certainly do not agree with the reduction of the Small Brewers threshold – this is an unwarranted, punitive and unnecessary step.’ A position North Yorkshire’s Black Sheep Brewery have also taken.

This is all in a day’s work for Neil and the team at SIBA, who have been also tackling reforms to licensing laws, working with the Northern Ireland Executive to see retail reforms there, and organising SIBA’s first digital beer competition.

For more information on SIBA and to find out how you can become and benefit from being a member, visit