Author: Jaine Organ
Pictures: Jaine Organ, Bohem Brewery

Beer is important to the UK economy; according to the latest government figures the UK exported 1 billion pints to 121 countries last year, worth £600 million to the economy. Added to that are the 7.75 billion pints consumed within the UK in the same period. So not surprisingly, there is concern about the effects of Brexit on the industry. In this second look at Brexit and beer, we focus on craft breweries and see how they are taking a positive, forward-thinking approach.

The trade associations – SIBA

SIBA, Society of Independent Brewers, has a membership of 825 independent UK craft breweries and was instrumental in campaigning for PBD, Progressive Beer Duty, which came into place in 2002 allowing smaller breweries to pay less tax on their products. They have focused on keeping abreast of government guidelines and providing members with guidance and support. The latest advice on SIBA’s website includes obtaining an EORI, Economic Operator Registration and Identification, ensuring employees are aware of regulations on the right to live and work in the UK and information on labelling and EU contact requirements.

Citizens of Everywhere

The Citizens of Everywhere project, a Pan-European craft beer collaboration pairing 12 UK brewers with 12 European brewers, aims to celebrate the collective achievements of the EU. Giving a positive slant to Theresa May’s “citizens of nowhere” speech, founder Justin Hawke of Moor Beer said: “It’s a bad idea to leave the EU but we don’t want to be political… at the heart of everything, a positive message of working together, collaboration and not wishing to isolate others with different opinions.”

European-focused breweries in London

Beyond collaboration, there are a surprising number of European-focused breweries setting up in London post-referendum. German Kraft, founded in 2017 by Hamburg-born Felix Bollen and his two partners, brews with German hops and malt serving fresh, unfiltered, unpasteurised beer. Brewheadz, in north London, was set up in 2016 by four Italians following a stint of communal flat-sharing and home-brewing.

Bohem Brewery, founded in early 2017 by two Czechs, Zdenek Kudr and Petr Skocek, brews traditional Bohemian-style lagers using Czech ingredients. They’re pulling in great reviews from UK beer fans and have recently expanded employing a brewer, Matěj, from Brevnov Monastery Brewery. We headed for the taproom on Myddleton Road, where the fourth team member Marek Průša demonstrated the traditional Czech pour. A certified Pilsner Urquell tapster with 20 years’ experience, his “Tapster not Hipster” t-shirt clearly spelling out that these guys mean business. And so they should; we tasted a few beers and they were all really good, a favourite was Sparta, an amber lager 5.4% ABV and Druid, a black lager 5.7% ABV, rich and malty.

The craft scene has always had an over-arching vibe of inclusion and collaboration so it’s encouraging that these brewers are taking a risk and sticking with the UK. And great for beer drinkers. We’ll be heading back to Bohem for a glass of foamy delight in the not too distant future.