News

Beer Duty / Brewing / Pubs / 04 October 2019

Beer confirmed as Britain’s most popular alcoholic drink after 8.5 billion pints were sold in 2018

Beer has been confirmed as Britain’s favorite alcoholic drink, according to new research and data published by the British Beer & Pub Association in its new 2019 Statistical Handbook – a ‘must read’ for anyone with an interest in the UK drinks sector.

Using data provided by HMRC, the BBPA conducted analysis which found that in 2018, 8.5 billion pints (48,559,000 hectolitres) of beer were sold in the UK – more than any other alcoholic drink.[1]

In comparison, 7.4 billion 175ml glasses of wine (the equivalent to 12,901,700 hectoliters) and 1.2 billion pints of cider (the equivalent to 6,804,000 hectolitres) were sold over the same period.[2]

Data collated by the BBPA for its 2019 Statistical Handbook also found that 100 new breweries opened in the UK in 2018, taking the total number of UK breweries to 2,530 – an increase of 2,030 breweries since the year 2000.[3]

The BBPA says that although beer is the best-selling and most popular alcoholic drink, it is overtaxed in the UK.

At present, Brits pay a staggering 11 times more beer duty than drinkers in Germany or Spain – paying 54 pence in beer duty on a 5% ABV pint of beer.[4] This is despite beer being vital to the UK’s manufacturing sector, with 82% of the beer brewed in the UK being drunk in the UK.[5]

Combined, pubs and brewing create almost 900,000 jobs in the UK. For pubs alone, 7 in every 10 alcoholic drinks sold are beer, making beer tax a particular burden.[6]

The BBPA is therefore continuing to back the Long Live the Local campaign, led by Britain’s Beer Alliance. The campaign is calling on the Chancellor to cut beer tax at the next budget to support community locals who sell a higher proportion of beer, making them particularly sensitive to beer tax hikes. Alongside this, the BBPA is also campaigning to reduce high business rates that also disproportionately affect pubs.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, commented:

“It is clear from these numbers that beer is the most popular alcoholic drink, but it is without doubt overtaxed. In fact, we pay 11 times more beer tax than Germany or Spain. Because the public finances assume an RPI increase every year, we also face another tax hike on top of that in the next Budget.

“Should tax on a pint continue to rise then drinking in the pub will no longer be affordable for many British beer drinkers, meaning pubs will continue to close. This is why we are backing the Long Live the Local campaign, calling on the Chancellor to cut beer tax and support local pubs.”

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/alcohol-bulletin

[2] As above

[3] BBPA data

[4] As above

[5] As above

[6] As above

Further Reading