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Brits sink 8.5 billion pints in 2018, new data reveals as BBPA calls for duty freeze

Almost 9 billion pints of beer were sold in the UK last year – more than any other alcoholic drink by volume – according to new research.

Pint of beer at the draught counter

Beer has been confirmed as Britain’s favourite alcoholic drink, according to new data published by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), which has once again called on the UK government to freeze duty on beer.

Roughly 8.5 billion pints (48,559,000 hectolitres) of beer were sold in the UK throughout 2018, BBPA said.

By contrast, 7.4 billion 175ml glasses of wine (the equivalent to 12,901,700 hectolitres) and 1.2 billion pints of cider (the equivalent to 6,804,000 hectolitres).

The study, which has been published in the BBPA’s 2019 Statistical Handbook, reveals that Brits drink almost four times (380%) as much beer as they do wine.

It 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.

The rate of tax on beer is 11 times higher in the UK than duty than in Germany or Spain, the trade body said, with Britons paying 54p in tax on every 5% ABV pint of beer.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “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.”

Duty on beer, cider and spirits was frozen to support British pubs at the start of the year, but wine duty rose in line with inflation, much to the dismay of retailers, producers and importers.

Former chancellor Philip Hammond, outlining the Autumn Statement on 29 October, said that freezing taxes against the rate of inflation will mean drinkers would save an average of 2p on every pint of beer and 1p per pint of cider in 2019, as well as saving 30p on a 70cl bottle of Scotch whisky.

Duty on wine, meanwhile, has risen by 39% since 2010, compared to 27% of spirits and cider and 16% for beer. The last chancellor to cut still wine duty was Nigel Lawson, 35 years ago.

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