A brewery has stopped producing ale after 30 years in the town it is named after because of the “catastrophic impact” of the coronavirus pandemic.
It had been a “very sad and difficult decision” to shut down in Wickwar, Gloucestershire.
Five members of brewery staff have been made redundant as a result.
Spokeswoman Abi Brown said: “It’s been a very sad and difficult decision to come to. Covid has had a catastrophic impact on the brewing industry.
“Whilst the pandemic has undoubtedly brought difficulties and pressures to all of us, we are delighted that we will are able to maintain availability of the Wickwar ale range and look forward to serving our loyal customers in the coming months and years ahead.”
The company’s ales will remain on sale in 13 pubs in the region owned by the firm’s pub company, and in other local free houses and retailers.
Wickwar’s fate is one feared by hundred of the country’s smaller breweries.
More than three hundred small independent breweries have signed a letter by the Society of Independent Brewers to the Prime Minister, calling on him to commit to proper support for the sector which is being devastated by Covid lockdown in 2020.
Small breweries have faced harsh restrictions on their businesses over the last year and saw sales plummet by an average of 80 per cent during lockdown, but have not received much of the support given to the wider hospitality sector.
To make matters worse for struggling businesses the Government is planning a tax increase for brewers with their changes to Small Breweries’ Relief (SBR) – the scheme that revolutionised brewing in the UK and made it viable for small businesses to compete against the Global beer companies.
“It is imperative this Government acts now or risks setting the British brewing industry back a decade with widespread business closures. The hugely important Christmas period has been a joyless one for brewers, as the vast majority of their market is closed yet there has been no compensation and little support forthcoming,” said SIBA chief executive James Calder.
“The Prime Minister needs to secure the future of one of Britain’s most successful manufacturing industries and deliver an urgent package of direct support for small independent breweries,” said Calder.
SIBA is calling on the Prime Minister to: Extend the hospitality support to cover small breweries, including the Business Rates holiday; secondly, compensate small brewers for the millions of pints that have to be thrown away when pubs are forced to close; and finally to scrap the proposed changes to Small Brewers Relief to create a sustainable future for the industry.
The letter comes following the Scottish Government pledging £1.8m for small breweries in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland, business rates holidays have been extended to manufacturers – policies which SIBA argues could and should be mirrored by the UK Government.
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