Having started our brewing journey back in 1985 in a shed at the back of a pub in Hereford, Wye Valley Brewery first brewed beer in the days before PBD (also known as Small Brewers Duty Relief) when all UK brewers, irrespective of size, paid full duty rate.
As one of the earliest members of SIBA, we campaigned for years for the two keys issues facing small independents: access to market and PBD.
The introduction of PBD was a watershed for our industry, it encouraged new entrants to the industry and laid the foundations for the creative and innovative beer scene we have today. Wye Valley Brewery benefitted from these savings and used them to reinvest back into our brewery and grow in a steady and sustainable way.
Then came the disastrous beer duty escalator which saw excise duty increase by over 40% in three years as taxation became an ever larger and disproportionate cost in beer. This is what led us to question the current structure of PBD. We knew brewers who held back on sales and others who even scaled back on production to save money by keeping their annual output below 5000HL. This didn’t feel particularly progressive, as the policy now seemed to encourage new entrants but discouraged growth. When the Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition came into existence we thought they would get the debate started. However we do not favour the proposed increases in beer duty for the smallest brewers.
We just passed the upper threshold of 60000HL annual production three years ago and now sit slightly above this level (pre COVID) and find ourselves paying full duty rate once again. We remain an independent family business which, after 35 years of brewing, has now experienced the beer duty system from all perspectives. This is why we do support a fair reform of PBD (or SBDR) for all, but not at the expense of our smaller fellow brewers.