Independent brewing levels back to normal

Beer from independent breweries returns to pre-pandemic levels after four years of recovery.

A new report has revealed average beer production volumes among independent breweries have risen by 14% compared to 2023, returning to pre-pandemic levels for the first time in four years.

Cask beer has also seen a big increase, with volumes up 10% year-on-year, according to the SIBA Independent Beer Report 2024. 

The new data, taken from hundreds of independent craft breweries, also features commissioned consumer research via YouGov. It was this YouGov research which showed 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.

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

Lager has continued its rise up the brewing charts to number four this year, with 56% of independent brewers now producing a craft lager, up +5% on 2023's survey and the biggest growth category for 2024. Also on the up is non-alcoholic beer, with a +2% growth, taking the number of breweries now making an alcohol-free beer to 8%.

Strong demand for locality

"Demand for local, independently brewed beer in the UK is strong, with independent brewers reporting production volumes up by 14%, meaning they have returned to 2019 volumes again," says Andy Slee, CEO of SIBA. "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 while there are many positives signs highlighted in the report, for now it’s cautious optimism. 

"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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