Why are lower alcohol beer prices the same as full strength beer?
Have you ever looked at the price of our lower alcohol Small Beer and compared the cost to higher alcohol beers? While it’s easy to assume that buying lower alcohol must automatically mean lower prices, there are many other factors that contribute to what you pay. Here, we share how some of the smaller details, such as tax, ingredients, process, packaging and delivery all add up to the final price.
Beer duty still contributes to lower alcohol beer prices
The most common misconception is that lower alcohol beers must be cheaper because they are not taxed as much as their higher alcohol counterparts. While it’s true that our Small Beer is taxed less than beer brewed above the threshold of 2.8% ABV, we still pay a beer duty of 8.42p per litre for each % of alcohol. In order to be exempt from beer duty, we would need to brew beer below 1.2% ABV, which only our Small Beer Dark Lager qualifies for. So the tax that we pay has to be factored in as a cost we incur when producing our lower alcohol beer.
What goes into your Small Beer
Being an independent, smaller scale business means that things are simply more expensive, as we’re not yet able to rely on higher volumes to bring costs down. On top of that, how we choose to brew our beer is also cost and labour intensive and therefore has a big impact on our lower alcohol beer prices.
Not only is our malted grain the very finest, sourced from one of the oldest maltsters in the country (Warminster) still practicing traditional hand turning techniques, but we use twice the typical amount of ingredients per % of alcohol brewed. We do this to ensure all the flavour and body of our beer never fails to deliver, without having to resort to adding lactose or dextrins to build mouthfeel like some other low and no beers do. Essentially, the quality of ingredients and the quantity in which we use them (to maximise flavour) means that our low alcohol beer would not be viable unless priced similarly to it’s, higher alcoholic counterparts.
How your Small Beer is brewed & how it impacts low alcohol beer prices
Our brewing process is time intensive and when you’re a producer, time really does mean money. We long lager our Small Beer (a process named after the German word ‘lager’ meaning ‘to store’), where it’s left to rest in a lagering vessel for a minimum of 6 weeks instead of the industry standard 4-5 days. By taking the time to let the yeast and proteins naturally settle out, we don’t have to fine our beer (a process using isinglass, the dried swim bladder of sturgeon and some other fish) in order to achieve a beautifully clean and crisp beer that’s still full of flavour. The time that we give our lower alcohol beer contributes to the quality of each drop we produce, so you truly do get what you pay for.
How your Small Beer is packaged
Since we first opened our brewery doors, we’ve worked hard to push for the highest standards in every one of our supply chains. Wherever possible, all of our packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable. However, taking the time and effort to responsibly source these materials does not help to cut costs, as they are still more expensive than buying virgin materials that are dominated by mainstream demand.
How your Small Beer is delivered
We live in an age where free next day delivery is the norm, but what we can easily forget is that nothing is ever really ‘free’. Either the company you are buying from is absorbing the whole cost, which means they need to rely on selling huge volumes to make their money back, or you the customer are in fact paying for delivery, it’s simply factored into the retail price. Couriers can charge us a wide range of prices based on the weight of the package, the distance travelled and the delivery time window, so charging a reduced, flat rate for purchases under £50 and offering it free of charge to orders over that amount still comes at a substantial cost to us as a business.
We hope that if the above tells you anything, it’s that we’ve built our business in a way that delivers the highest quality, best tasting beer we can, all the while having as little impact on the environment as possible. While this means we can’t necessarily offer the cheapest beer out there and our lower alcohol beer prices might be a little higher than you thought, we pride ourselves in responsibly making the very best. To us, that’s worth every penny and we hope it is to you too.