Britain’s beer drinkers are being deliberately deceived by global brewers who have bought up a host of well-known brands and may have changed the recipes.
The Good Beer Guide says that the choice for beer drinkers has never been better, as the number of UK breweries has soared to over 1,700.
But the publication warns that “storm clouds are gathering”, as global brewers attempt to stifle that choice.
AB Inbev and other major global brewers are strategically targeting the independent brewing sector following the steady decline of mass market lager brands, the Guide says.
The scene was set last year when the third largest corporate takeover in history saw AB InBev buy its rival SAB Miller for £71bn, effectively taking control of 30 per cent of the world’s beer production and sales.
That same year the giant bought the Camden Town Brewery for £80m, and unveiled a brand-new plant in Enfield with greatly increased capacity.
According to the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), which produces the Guide, AB InBev’s aim is simple: to turn Camden Town into the biggest brewery in London.
“Big Beer” is fooling consumers into thinking they are still drinking “independent” or “craft” beer, Camra claims.
It says clever marketing tactics and lax labelling restrictions mean that global brewers are still able to market these beers as locally produced even when they are no longer made by the original brewer.
“Brewing changes under new ownership – whether this is due to long-term contracts with suppliers leading to grain or hop substitutions, or because production methods are changed to maximise profits at the expense of taste,” Roger Protz, editor of the Good Beer Guide said.
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has recently set up an accreditation scheme to help inform consumers about what they are drinking, with a specially designed logo for bottles, cans or pump clips to make it clear that a beer is genuinely independent.
Business picture of the day
Camra also warned that more British pubs are at risk of shutting down due to the “ticking time bomb” of business rates increases.
Many out-of-town supermarkets saw their rates reduced under a recent revaluation, while some town centre pubs suffered large increases.
The UK has already lost 28,000 pubs since the organisation was formed in the early 1970s, Camra said.