On the 1st day of October 2011 the government’s new Duty on High and Low Strength Beer regulations went live. In short, beer with an ABV of 7.5% or higher is evil and if that evil is left unchecked it will bring about the fall of western civilisation. Cider, wine and spirits are not evil and were, consequently, protected from this new tax. A plethora of articles appeared that strongly criticised the tax (HSBD) and an HM Government e-petition was launched. Add the HSBD to the disgustingly high taxation levels that beer is already subjected to and it’s very easy to see just how much pressure the brewing industry is under.

If you haven’t already done so, read Pete Brown excellent article, Why beer duty numbers just don’t add up – and what YOU can do about it

Magic Rock Brewing, despite being disillusioned by the HSBD, have announced that it won’t affect the beers they create but unfortunately some breweries have decided that it just doesn’t make financial sense for them to brew beers with an ABV above 7.4%. Moor Beer Company have published an open letter that outlines the impact the HSBD is having on their business – I’m sure I’m not the only person saddened by the news that we’ve seen the last batch of the delicious JJJ IPA. More recently, Otley have announced they will no longer be brewing their excellent 08.

The situation has got me wondering if there was a positive way forward for beers with an ABV of 7.5% and above. Yeah, we can sign petitions and we can pressurise on our MPs into supporting a removal of the HSBD and Beer Duty Escalator but governments, especially Tory ones, aren’t really famed for listening to the people – an alternative where brewers and drinkers had the control would be a far more suitable option.

For many years now musical artists have been asking their fans to finance their forthcoming projects. The premise is simple: A musician has a collection of songs that they want to record and release but they don’t have a record company who will stump up the cash so they ask their fans to pay in advance for the record. Once sufficient funds have been raised the songs are recorded and everybody who chipped-in gets a copy of the CD (and sometimes a lot more) sent to them. Many [in]famous recording stars have recently gone down this route – Electric Eel Shock, Public Enemy, Chris Difford (from Squeeze) and Viv Albertine (from The Slits), et al.

But what can such a model have to offer the brewing industry? Again, the premise is a simple one: A brewery announces that they plan to brew a particular beer and state that to do so the need X amount of £s and then ‘fans’ of that beer/brewery pledge money and once the desired funding is achieved the beer is brewed and the happy drinkers receive their beer. It can be a simple cash for beer transaction but there is plenty of scope for breweries to be creative with what they offer for the money they receive: beer only packages, beer and a collection of exclusive brewery items, beer and a brewery tour, beer and the chance to be present at the actual brew day, etc etc.

I’m sure small breweries don’t want their cash flow being impacted by beer sitting in a warehouse, especially when so much of that cash flows to the HMRC – the very simple model I’ve outlined above will mean that every drop of a particular beer they brew is 100% bought and paid for. I’m certainly not suggesting that breweries fully adopt this approach to brewing as it would probably only work for very small batches of beer – a few hundered bottles to a couple of thousand or so bottles – but if there’s a beer or two that they don’t feel they can’t justifiably brew under the current draconian tax regulations then perhaps my suggestion might prove to be a workable solution – the breweries get to brew a beer they want to brew and beer drinkers get to drink the beers they want to drink… everybody’s happy.


~ by landells on September 20, 2012.

3 Responses to “Sellabeer”

  1. This sounds like a fantastic idea!

  2. I do think it’s an idea that does have the potential to be successful and lead to some quite exciting beers. In a way BrewDog are already doing this with their Abstrakt Addicts Club (which I’m not a member of)

  3. It’s a great idea!

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