A new report, released today by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), highlights the important role independent craft brewers are playing in communities across Britain.

It reveals how they create jobs for local people, open brewery taprooms to help fill the void left by community pub closures, and raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for numerous local charities.

Brewers in the Community, which is compiled from results of SIBA’s annual members’ survey (completed by almost 500 of the 850 brewery members), shows 84% have supported at least one charity within the last 12 months, with 21% supporting more than five charities.

For instance, Cullercoats Brewery, in Tyne and Wear, has raised more than £30,000 in the last five years for the RNLI, by donating 3p from every pint it sells. It recently reached the one million pint mark needed to achieve its target of £30,0000.

The report highlights the key point that independent breweries mainly employee local people, with two-thirds of the employees living within a five-mile radius of the brewery and one in 10 being aged between 16 and 24 years old.

The recently-launched Brewer Apprenticeship Trailblazer initiative has brought together brewers, trainers and professional bodies to create a cross-industry set of standards for a new Brewer Apprenticeship Scheme.

Hayley Connor, people and development manager at Brewhouse & Kitchen, which is part of the initiative, said: “We have a significant need to internally grow our own brewers to keep pace with the development of Brewhouse & Kitchen, and with the new apprenticeship framework, which puts industry front and centre in setting the standards, we have a great opportunity to work with our peers large and small to create the programme, underpinned by a formal apprenticeship qualification. This October we plan to take on five new learners to trial the content of the developing standards over a 12-month period.”

Access to market

Brewery taps, shops and visitor centres are also becoming a very important part in the success of the independent brewer. With a lot of access to market issues, many independent brewers are creating their own revenue streams.

More than 30% of those who own a brewery tap, shop or visitor centre at their brewery, stated these local facilities accounted for over a quarter of their trade.

One brewery which has seen huge success with its rural brewery taproom is Unity Brewhouse, located on the the Worcestershire / Herefordshire border on a working hop farm. Brewer and co-founder, Sarah Saleh, says the taproom has become a focal point of their countryside community.

She said: “Being in a rural community, people are keen to support local business and are interested in the provenance of what they consume, and we are now getting a good crowd on Friday evenings, sometimes over 100 people.

“Our tap room has also been an excellent vehicle to spread awareness of our brand, including to local landlords who have been subsequently interested in serving our beer in their pubs.”

The report shows 84% of those surveyed regard their relationship with their local community as ‘important’ or ‘extremely important’ to their business.