John Smith's Brewer Denies Tax Saving Claims
Drinkers of John Smith's Extra Smooth may soon find they have to pay more for a pint of the popular bitter - just as its alcohol strength is reduced.
From next month, Heineken - which owns the brand - plans to weaken the beer's alcohol content in a move that would save it millions of pounds in tax under the Government's beer duty escalator.
At the same time, the firm plans to raise the price of a pint to wholesalers by 2.5p to help offset rising energy, duty and ingredient costs.
Heineken insists the decision to reduce the drink's strength from 3.8% to 3.6% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) was aimed at bringing John Smith's Extra Smooth in line with the strength of rival smooth beer brands, including Tetley's, Worthingtons and Boddingtons which already sit at or below 3.6% ABV.
Its statement said: "We will pass on a proportion of the duty savings to our trade customers while re-investing some cost savings in the brewing and marketing of our leading ale brand.
"Extensive research conducted with John Smith's retailers and consumers consistently confirmed that a 0.2% reduction in ABV does not compromise on the taste and quality that has made the brand the UK's most popular ale and we are confident that John Smith's Extra Smooth will continue to lead the ale category going forward."
According to the Financial Times, the annual duty saving would top £6.5m a year.
The beer duty escalator, which penalises drinks depending on alcohol strength, has been blamed for falling industry sales by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
It has added inflation plus 2% to duty bills since its introduction in 2008, meaning the figure has risen by almost 40%.
The BBPA has calculated that the Treasury now raises more than £9bn per year through beer and sale production - a figure it argues is killing off pubs as consumers opt to buy from cheaper supermarkets instead.
According to the lobby group Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), a third of the cost of a stronger pint is now pure tax.
Camra has begun a 'Save Your Pint' petition, while pub operators such as JD Wetherspoon have said they are limiting investment in the UK as a result of what they call the growing tax burden.
what do you think?
It has been done before. Anyone else notice that Carling dropped from 4.1% to 4% ABV months ago
Carling? Wouldn't you prefer a true premium lager like Red Stripe ? Smoothest lager in the world
I thought you were are larger lout Dave be a man and drink beer :-)
Hi, don't forget the spirit distilleries, proof down from 40 to 37.5 %
In the grand scheme of awesome beer, John Smith & Tetley are only 'also ran' beers. If you want premium connoisseur beer try "Strongarm" Ruby red bitter (brewed by Camerons brewery of Hartlepool). The most beautiful bitter in the world. Failing that, stick to milk stout
Stevie. Ah Camerons Strongarm brewed for steelworkers, a cracking pint. I find John Smiths extra smooth akin to drinking water it is so bland.
O steve that is the elixir of the gods about time they put it in a can or bottle for export to the Midlands .. anyone who has not tried this magic brew get up there and give it a go
Trying to find Strongarm (ruby red) in the Midlands is a nightmare - and I believe Camerons stopped canning it years ago. Shame. If I could get it locally I wouldn't drink anything else. Gorgeous drop
Steve they did have it at the brewery shop maybe i'll give Cameron's a call
steve have sent them a mail and will let you know the reply
'JD Wetherspoon have said they are limiting investment in the UK as a result of what they call the growing tax burden.' and who can blame them wake up Georgie boy ...........
If you are daft enough to keep buying it then its up to you. The ruthless pursuit of profit prevails!
it's best if you can to hop across to France, I remember Rick Stein showing us how to buy wine at 40p a litre. But as I have said before., If you continue to pay daft money then stop moaning.
This comes close behind a report on local TV last night about the demise of the British Pub and efforts by some of the new small breweries and interest groups to save what is a British institution. In particular they looked at the village pub as a meeting venue where all social classes came together without division and what was said made a great deal of sense. The pub is also a place of entertainment not just music but even theatre. What a pity we can not find the value in the local pub again
Stella used to 5% now its 4.9! Why does the conservative goverment want to tax us to death? Just set tax at 25% and cancel all vat and duty then we will all be better off and pubs and resturants will survive as fuel will be cheaper so we can get there! Plus ur gas and elec would be cheaper!
stella used to be 5.2 then 5.0 now 4.8 i have noticed the difference in taste and now drink san miguel 5.0 lovely.
as long as special brew is 9% the world still makes sense. (i don't like anything else first thing in a morning).
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