SIBA has today launched an initiative to promote ‘Assured Independent British Craft Breweries’ in an effort to provide greater clarity for consumers looking to purchase beer from genuinely independent craft breweries in the UK.
With over 850 brewing members in the UK, SIBA is the voice of British brewing and is launching an initiative to champion the huge range of fantastic, full-flavoured beers from truly independent local breweries which have captured the excitement of the beer drinking public. 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% 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% regard craft breweries as ‘artisanal’ with 22% associating the term with ‘small’ and 14% 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 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.
Whilst all full SIBA brewing members will be eligible to use the stamp, over 150 have already actively pledged their support for the scheme and committed to use the logo in their future marketing. Including the brewers of SIBA’s 8 Champion Cask Beers, which are being served at the Great British Beer festival as part of the launch of the campaign. One of these is Fiona from Loch Lomond brewery, who says it was right for SIBA to step in and classify craft breweries in the UK.
“Loch Lomond are very happy to be supporting this initiative as we believe it is hugely important for beer drinkers to be able to see whether the beer they are drinking is brewed by an independent craft brewer, or whether it is actually being produced by a global brewer. We think some consumers are being misled into thinking the beer they’re drinking is a small-batch, hand-crafted product, when actually it’s being produced on a mass scale.” Fiona Maceachern, Loch Lomond Brewery, winner of SIBA’s Champion cask competition.
Eddie Lofthouse, Co-founder of Harbour Brewing Co, added
“Its about empowering consumers to make informed choices, helping them identify true independent craft breweries so they can taste the amazing beers that they are making. In a craft brewery the decision making when it comes to the beer, lies on the front line, with the brewer, who has the ability to try new beer styles, ingredients or recipes more quickly than the big breweries. This leads to more unusual, interesting beers, and keeps the beer market exciting and varied – I’d rather drink beers that are dreamt-up by a brewer, not a board.”
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 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. The organisations bar at the Great British Beer Festival will also, as of 5pm today, be displaying details of the new inititiative alongside serving their Champion cask beers.