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Beer from indie breweries returns to pre-pandemic levels

Beer production volumes amongst Britain’s independent breweries have risen to pre-pandemic levels for the first time in four years.

The data, revealed in the SIBA Independent Beer Report 2024, showed that average beer production among craft breweries has risen by 14% compared to 2023.

Additionally, returning cask beer has also seen a big increase, with volumes up 10% year-on-year.

Other findings in the report highlighted how there is a “growing consumer pull for independent craft beer, with 55% of beer consumers saying they now drink local craft beer, up from 47% who said they drank it in 2023, placing it level with global lager”.

SIBA chief executive Andy Slee said: “The short-term issue for small independent breweries isn‘t demand; it’s profitability, rising costs and financial pressures such as lingering Covid debt. Far too many breweries are simply trying to survive rather than thrive, so whilst there are many positives signs highlighted in the report, for now it’s cautious optimism.”

The report outlined that 43% of independent brewers citing ‘survival’ as their top priority, though this is significantly down (-20%) from 2023 where SIBA admitted “a majority of 63% were just trying to survive”.

The research also revealed another red flag for the beer industry with the figures showing just 30% of 18-24-year-olds ever drink beer, falling behind wines and spirits, and with almost a quarter of consumers (24%) saying they never visited their local pub.

In terms of brewing trends, the findings showed that stout, best bitter and pale ale hold the first three places respectively followed by lager, showing the demand for traditional beer styles.

Interesting, lager has continued its rise with 56% of independent brewers now producing a craft lager, up +5% on the 2023 year’s survey and the biggest growth category for 2024.

Also on the rise is non-alcoholic beer, with a +2% growth taking the number of breweries now making an alcohol free beer to 8% .

Slee added: “No and low alcohol beer is massively increasing in popularity and thanks to new technologies which make it easier to produce great -tasting low or no alcohol beer more independent breweries than ever are catering to this growing market.”

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