Brewers call for help as new rules leave bitter taste

Dry January will be officially cancelled for many, with the Prime Minister’s sobering lockdown announcement enough to make anyone reach for a stiff drink.

Alison Parr, director of Stonehouse Brewery in Oswestry. The brewery has tried to adapt during the pandemic, including doing home deliveries
Alison Parr, director of Stonehouse Brewery in Oswestry. The brewery has tried to adapt during the pandemic, including doing home deliveries

And while cash may be pouring in for supermarkets selling cheap alcohol, the third national shutdown is more news that the brewery and pub trades will find leaves a bitter taste.

Pubs are currently banned from selling takeaway booze, but breweries are using legislation which allows them to be classed as “off licences” to sell their wares.

Despite the loophole, brewers have taken a considerable hit over the course of the pandemic.

Five million pints of spoiled beer were poured down the drain during previous lockdowns, with no compensation for brewers.

That, coupled with a tax hike, has prompted beer makers to team up and pen a letter to government, pleading for more support.

Cynics may argue that Boris Johnson couldn’t organise a you know what in a brewery - all the brewers want is adequate support so they can organised themselves.

One of those who signed, Stonehouse Brewery in Oswestry, is still selling takeaway beer, and director Alison Parr hopes they won’t have to pour much away this time.

She said: “We are allowed to do takeaway beer because we can trade an an off-licence. We’ve been selling it to supermarkets and shops.

“But like other breweries, our main trade is selling to pubs. Our turnover is 80 per cent down. Pubs have been able to get support because they’re in the hospitality sector. We are considered to be in the manufacturing sector, so we still have to pay our rates.

"We have had support from Shropshire Council, but not everyone is so lucky.

“Many breweries have closed and many more will close over the coming months.”

Asked whether Stonehouse is strong enough to make it through the pandemic, she said: “I hope so. My thinking is that if we can make it to spring and things can start opening up again, then we should make it through.”

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