City worker turned beer brewer calls for rethink on beer taxation

A former City worker who became a London craft brewer has joined those urging the government to rethink beer taxation in the Budget.

Duncan Sambrook, who left a career as an accountant with Deliotte to form Battersea-based Sambrook’s Brewery in 2008, said ministers need to do more to help the UK alcohol industry.

He said: “The government certainly needs to rethink beer duty taxation, which is one of the highest in Europe - 13 per cent of all beer produced in the EU is drunk in the UK, but 40 per cent of all beer tax raised in the EU is raised in the UK - by doing so it will help not just brewers but pubs, and suppliers across the country as 87 per cent of beer consumed in the UK is manufactured in the UK.”

Sambrook also suggested that reducing VAT for hospitality could encourage more people to visit pubs and restaurants to help “kick start the economy”.

He explained that the annual beer duty escalator is putting pressure on farmers, suppliers, pubs and drinkers alike.

“The increase in the price of beer in pubs is a direct result of this tax, which has increased over 35 per cent in the last five years,” he said.

Sambrook’s has been quite lucky because of its niche market for craft beer, but the brewery has lost some customers due to closures as more people stop drinking in pubs.

His comments followed the release of the Local Beer Report for 2012, which drew attention to the fact that small brewers are currently thriving, but this boost is unlikely to last indefinitely.

Despite whatever difficulties brewing entrepreneurs might face in the future, Sambrook believes that being passionate is the most vital ingredient to achieving success.

“The barriers to entry are reasonably high, but nothing that passion can’t overcome. In fact, we actually collaborate with the new guys and have grouped together to form a London Brewers Alliance, which promotes beer across the capital,” he said.

To some people his decision to walk away from a promising City career and embark out on his own - just as the credit crunch hit - might be hard to believe, but for Sambrook it made perfect sense.

He had a keen fondness for beer and had wanted to become his own boss for some time.

It was during a trip to the Great British Beer Festival in 2006 that he finally connected the dots and realised what his true vocation was.

Six years later, he now has a strong business with three signature beers: Wandle Ale, Junction Ale and Powerhouse Porter.

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