HM Treasury has published ‘Small Brewers Relief (SBR): technical consultation’. The consultation calls for further industry input on technical issues surrounding the first and second-stage reviews.

Small Brewers Relief (SBR) provides reduced rates of beer duty to small brewers. 

The government, in Budget 2018, announced it would review the relief following feedback from brewers that it was limiting growth and distorting the market. 

In July last year, the findings from the first stage of the review were released including the removal of the 'cliff-edge' of production levels and taper relief. Since this announcement, the Treasury has received submissions and engaged with a wide range of brewing groups to understand their views about reforming the relief. 

It is now seeking further opinions with the deadline for submissions 11:59 pm on 4 April 2021.


HM Treasury’s questions in this call for evidence are:

Changing the method of calculating production

  • Would you support changing the method of calculating production from the previous calendar year’s total to a rolling 12-month average?
  • As an alternative, would you support brewers being able to adjust their production total in-year?
  • Would any protections be needed to prevent this provision from being abused?

Mergers and acquisitions, transitional relief

  • If relief is put in place, over how many years (and at what rate) should SBR be withdrawn drawn for breweries that merge?
  • Do you foresee any issues if such a relief was put in place?
  • What rules would be needed to protect this relief from abuse?
  • Should there be a maximum size that breweries can be to benefit from transitional relief?

Adjusting SBR for the strength of the beer produced

  • Would you support capping the amount of SBR claimable in cash terms? This would reduce the production volume that would be eligible for reduced rates produced for higher strength beers while increasing it for lower strength beers.
  • If so, what would be the appropriate ABV on which to base the ‘cash cap’?
  • Would you support the inclusion of the additional excise on beers above 7.5% ABV, and the reduced rate for beers below 2.8% ABV, in this system?

Converting to a cash basis

  • What method would you prefer the Government uses when considering whether to uprate the SBR amount?

Technical issues with reforming the SBR taper

  • Which of the five options for a scheme design do you consider the most attractive? (See the consultation document)
  • How would you set the parameters of your preferred design?
  • What would the amount of relief at 5,000hL (and therefore the rate of withdrawal between 2,100-5,000hL) be under this new scheme?
  • Would you support a more gradual rate of SBR withdrawal from 30,000hL, to e.g. 100,000hL, in the context of a reformed scheme?

Useful guides on the topic

Small Brewer's Relief
Budget 2020 announced a review as to how the Small Brewer’s Relief (SBR) is structured. The outcome of this review was expected to be published in Spring 2021.

Brewers: What expenses can I claim?
This guide outlines what expenses brewers, microbrewers and gin makers can claim for tax purposes.

External links

HM Treasury, Small Brewers Relief, Technical Consultation 

Small Brewers Relief: technical consultation response template


Small acorn
If you like our content come and join us.

Thousands of accountants and advisers and their clients use as their primary TAX resource.

Register with us now to receive our receive our FREE SME Topical Tax Update & newletter