Small Brewer Relief

Small Brewer Relief (SBR) provides a discount on beer duty of 50% to brewers producing under 5,000 hectolitres with tapered relief up to 60,000 hectolitres.

The BBPA welcomed the introduction of Small Brewer Relief in 2002 and strongly supports the scheme, and believes that it should be continued, building on current successes. However, a review has not taken place since 2004 and major distortions have arisen that need to be addressed due to the current structure of the scheme, exacerbated by substantial increases in beer excise duty.

In 2017, a coalition of over 70 small brewers was formed to push specifically for SBR reform, recognising that until now, the wider industry had not achieved a consensus for changes to the current scheme, despite all parties agreeing that there were issues with the current structure.  Following the formation of the coalition, a major independent review was commissioned and Europe Economics won the tender to undertake this work.  Both CAMRA and SIBA had input into the terms of reference and the BBPA agreed to underwrite the cost of the study.

As well as input from the various trade bodies and undertaking an analysis of previous work, over 100 brewers responded to a detailed questionnaire and a large theoretical modelling exercise on brewing costs was undertaken and validated with a number of brewers.  Key findings of the review are set out below. They very much support the need for reform of the system to provide a structure that provides a greater growth incentive, and a more level playing field for brewers.

  • Choice for the end consumer has improved.
  • Smaller brewers are overcompensated for economies of scale in the industry.
  • Small to mid-sized brewers receiving little, or no, SBR could find it difficult to compete as a result.
  • Market entry has increased significantly, including both efficient and inefficient entrants.
  • There is a detrimental impact on exports and M&A.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Small Brewer Duty Reform Coalition (SBDRC) and their proposals to support a sustainable small brewer sector for the long term, please email

  • Ongoing talks between BBPA and Treasury regarding SBR Reform

    05 December 2017

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the number breweries operating in the UK.