UK Brewery Numbers Relatively Stable Despite Challenges – with Some Regions Seeing Growth

The total number of breweries in the UK has remained ‘relatively stable’ in the first quarter of 2023 according to figures released today from the SIBA UK Brewery Tracker – which tracks new brewery openings and closures across the UK to give net numbers both regionally and Nationally.

Covering the period from the start of January 2023 to the end of March 2023, the SIBA UK Brewery Tracker shows some regions increasing their net brewery number, and overall the UK figure being down by just -4 on the start of 2023 – just a 0.22% change and a much better picture then many in the industry would have predicted given the mounting pressures on small independent breweries.

“It is very positive to see some areas of the UK now in growth and a National figure which has beaten the odds to remain relatively stable, despite the challenges faced by brewers. With rising raw material and utility costs, alongside existing market access issues, far too many small breweries are closing but the figures paint a much better picture than many predicted.

Small breweries have a hugely positive impact on their local community, providing jobs, raising money for charity, supporting local initiatives, and providing access to the freshly-brewed local beers that are now in such demand across the UK. All small independent breweries deserve your support.” Andy Slee, SIBA Chief Executive.

Recent consumer polling showed eight out of ten people believe a well-run independent brewery has a positive effect on its local community* – and that community-spirit is a sentiment shared by brewers, with a whopping 98% of SIBA brewers saying they consider their local community to be important to them.

“It is clear that demand is there from drinkers for great quality beer from local breweries, but getting those beers onto bars and into the hands of consumers can be tough in a competitive market. It’s the reason why so many breweries are now opening community taprooms where they can serve brewery-fresh beer direct to local people.” Andy added.

The SIBA Craft Beer Report launched last month showed 40% of independent craft breweries now have a taproom (up 10% on 2022) and that on average 27% of an independent brewery’s income now comes from sales direct to consumers via their taprooms, brewery shop or webshop – a huge increase for an industry historically heavily reliant on pub sales.

According to the SIBA UK Brewery Tracker figures released today Wales leads the UK in terms of brewery growth, with their net number rising by an impressive +5 overall, whilst just over the border the West of England saw the needle swing in the opposite direction, with figures falling by -4 overall. Surprisingly this was mirrored in the South East, an area which has seen a huge growth in breweries in recent years, who also registered -4 overall in the first three months of 2023.

South West and North East England each had a decline in their overall brewery numbers of -2, with Scotland seeing a smaller decline, now with -1 brewery less overall.

It was a more positive picture elsewhere though, with the East and Midlands regions each seeing a +2 growth. The North West of England and Northern Ireland have finished the first quarter of 2023 on the same number as they started it, with any closures counteracted by new openings.

The SIBA UK Brewery Tracker is compiled by full-time professional staff employed by the Society of Independent Brewers and is cross-referenced by SIBA Regional Directors in each of the eight SIBA Regions across the UK. The organisation considers a number of factors and data-sources alongside its own data analysis and extensive research, including, but not limited to, HMRC registrations.

SIBA UK BREWERY TRACKER Q1, 2023

Covering period 01/01/23 – 31/03/2023
Issued 4th April 2023

UK: 1824 (-4)

• Scotland: 145 (-1)
• Northern Ireland: 29 (-)
• North East: 263 (-2)
• North West: 209 (-)
• East: 180 (+2)
• Midlands: 284 (+2)
• West of England: 71 (-4)
• Wales: 107 (+5)
• South East: 331 (-4)
• South West: 205 (-2)

The above shows the new total number and net change compared to 01.01.23