Small Welsh brewers are brewing up new plans in a fight against the ‘big boys’

Larger breweries force smaller Welsh breweries to get creative with business as they threaten to change an important tax rule

Small breweries fill a large portion of the craft beer market in Cardiff. Credit: Pavel Danilyuk.

Small craft breweries face losing vital support from the Small Brewers Relief scheme as larger breweries demand a reform on the current tax break.

Small breweries are forced to find new business ventures to prevent Cardiff losing some of its favourite craft beers next year.

A collection of larger, more established breweries have formed a group called The Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition. They wish to reform the reduced rates of duty offered to micro-breweries. Since 2002 the original relief scheme offers reduced rates to breweries producing less than 60,000 hectolitres of beer.

If you’re losing your normal market, you have to go and find another one

Buster Grant, former director and former National Chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and owner of Brecon Brewing, identifies that the market and availability for smaller distilleries will decrease dramatically if the government adjusts the tax break.

Buster believes that small breweries in Wales are: “Taking inspiration from adversity”.

He says, “If you’re losing your normal market, you have to go and find another one. We have certainly seen that in and around Cardiff, and I think that is accelerating”.

Buster Grant brings years of experience within the brewing industry as his armour in the fight against bigger breweries dominating the market. Credit: Brecon Brewing
Creativity brewing

Neil Randle, company director at Bang-On Brewery in Bridgend, runs one of the smaller breweries which will struggle to grow from the change in duty rates. Neil explains that Bang-On Brewery are adjusting their business model with the introduction of merchandise this year.

The threat of the tax reform threatens to stifle ambition, says Neil, but Bang-On Brewery are thriving in other creative ways to promote growth. Neil and the business have had to diversify otherwise the “big boys” will, “Stifle growth in the brewing industry,” he says.

Similarly, Brecon Brewery have found themselves introducing around 18 new products in cans and bottles this year. Buster Grant says this is because the opportunity has arisen due to time spared not producing draft beer, but also to meet consumer demand.

“People are looking for new and interesting things. So let’s do it,” says Buster.

Bang-On Brewery have released Christmas merchandise and their customers are spreading the festive spirit through their support. Credit: Bang-on Brewery.

Micro-brewery beer you can find in Cardiff pubs: