Beer remains number one in Britain's top tipple table

4 October 2019, 00:01

Beer remains Britain's alcoholic drink of choice
Beer remains Britain's alcoholic drink of choice. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Beer was the most popular alcoholic drink in the UK for 2018 after selling 8.5 billion pints throughout the year.

In total, nearly 50 million hectolitres (one hectolitre equals 100 litres) of beer were sold, roughly four times as much as wine, according to HM Revenue and Customs data.

7.4 billion 175ml glasses of wine were sold along with 1.2 billion pints of cider, the figures published in the British Beer & Pub Association's (BBPA) latest handbook revealed.

Beer sold roughly four times as much in total volume than wine
Beer sold roughly four times as much in total volume than wine. Picture: PA

A century of new breweries opened across the country last year with the total now sitting at more than 2,500, which is a couple-of-thousand more than the sum at the turn of the millennium.

However, British drinkers pay 54p in beer duty on a 5% ABV pint, which highlights how UK alcohol lovers are overtaxed in comparison to their European counterparts.

For example, Britons pay a "staggering" 11 times more duty than drinkers in Germany or Spain.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds warned any further increases to beer duty could have a devastating effect on UK pubs.

UK beer drinkers pay 11 times more duty than drinkers in Germany or Spain
UK beer drinkers pay 11 times more duty than drinkers in Germany or Spain. Picture: PA

She said: "It is clear from these numbers that beer is the most popular alcoholic drink, but it is without doubt overtaxed.

"Should tax on a pint continue to rise then drinking in the pub will no longer be affordable for many British beer drinkers, meaning pubs will continue to close.

"This is why we are backing the Long Live The Local campaign, calling on the Chancellor to cut beer tax and support local pubs."

The BBPA said beer was "vital" to the manufacturing sector, with 82 per cent of the total volume brewed in the UK being drunk here, with pubs and brewing combined creating almost 900,000 jobs.

They hope the Long Live The Local campaign will support community locals that sell a higher proportion of beer, making them particularly sensitive to beer tax hikes.

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