Scottish brewers join new initiative

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Eighteen breweries across Scotland have pledged support for a new initiative seeking to highlight for consumers beers brewed by ‘Assured Independent British Craft Brewers’.

Launched this month by SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, the initiative has been welcomed by brewers across the UK who believe it is vital for consumers to be able to recognise when beers are genuinely from smaller, independent breweries or competing products from bigger brewers. As the ‘craft beer’ category has moved into mainstream retailing, SIBA says beer drinkers need more information to help them make informed choices.

Market research commissioned by SIBA shows that 46 per cent of beer drinkers, by far the biggest group, regard craft beer as ‘made by small brewers rather than large corporations’, although one in ten beer drinkers are unsure what the term means. 35 per cent regard craft breweries as ‘artisanal’ with 22 per cent associating the term with ‘small’ and 14 per cent with ‘local’.

SIBA claims that all its full brewing members fall into these definitions.

Mike Benner, managing director of SIBA, said: “The passion and innovation of independent brewers together with increasing consumer demand for diversity, provenance and excellence has created the craft beer revolution. It is the biggest thing to have happened to British beer for many years and has helped to revitalise the UK beer market and turn it into the most exciting beer scene in the World. Hundreds of passionate and genuine independent brewers have brought thousands of world-class beers to communities across the UK. However, as the craft beer market has grown it is being flooded with beers from across the world, often from large global brewers. We have launched our ‘Assured’ initiative to help consumers make informed decisions about where their beer comes from and who has brewed it.”

In order to qualify for the stamp of approval breweries must brew under 200,000hl a year, be truly independent of any larger controlling brewing interest and pledge to abide by SIBA’s Manual of Good Brewing Practice, which seeks to ensure quality throughout the independently brewed beer market. The initiative will make it easier for beer drinkers to identify beers from SIBA independent craft breweries quickly and easily, whether they’re buying beer in a pub or bar, off-licence or supermarket.

Breweries signed up to the initiative will be able to use the stamp on their pump clips, bottles, cans, point of sale and websites – making it crystal clear for consumers that what they are drinking is a genuine independently brewed craft beer.

Mike Benner added: “We’re not being sanctimonious about this or taking ourselves too seriously and we realise that great beer can be brewed by all kinds of brewers, but as more and more brewers jump on the ‘craft’ bandwagon we think firstly that people want to know where their beer is being brewed and by whom, and secondly that we need to help even our relatively small members compete with the huge marketing budgets of big ‘craft’ brands. This is why we have launched this stamp of approval which assures independence and quality.

The future credibility and growth of the craft beer market would be seriously threatened if consumers simply associated it with a handful of brands from global brewers and not from their very own local brewery. Consumer access to beers from truly independent craft brewers is key to the future of British beer.”

To give consumers a quick and easy way to identify the independent craft brewers near them, SIBA has launched https://indiecraftbrewers.co.uk which includes a UK wide interactive map, making it quick and easy to get more information on the beer and breweries near them.