Boss of Peterborough's Oakham Ales makes Budget ‘help us’ appeal to Chancellor

The boss of Peterborough brewery Oakham Ales has made a dramatic plea to the new Chancellor to use his first Budget to help the industry.

Adrian Posnett, who is celebrating 10 years at the expanding brewery in Maxwell Road, is calling on new Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to cut the level of duty on beer.

Mr Posnett said: “The level of duty is a big headache for us - it very big part of our costs.

“The brewery industry never seems to get any help from the Government.”

The amount of duty to be paid depends on the size of the business.

Over the last few years, Oakham Ales, which moved on to its current site in Woodston in 2006, has enjoyed years of growth.

Mr Posnett said: “The duty scale works on size and as you grow you pay more duty.

“We are almost at the highest level of duty but we are the smallest brewer to be at that level, so we are in the worst position we could be in.”

Adrian Posnett, managing director of Oakham Ales.

Oakham Ales produces about 50,000 hectare litres of beer a year - equivalent to about 8.8 million pints.

Mr Posnett said: “The duty rate we pay is about £8.20 per hectare litre - so that’s a lot.

“My message to the Chancellor is, as always, can you help us please?

“It needs more than just holding duty or cutting it by a penny a pint.

Oakham Ales.

“We are so far out compared to other European countries. A sizeable cut in duty would be a good start.”

Mr Posnett joined Oakham Ales as sales and marketing director in 2010 and was made managing director just a few months later.

The last decade has seen many successes and some new challenges for the brewery, which began life in 1993 in Oakham before being moved to Peterborough in 1998 to the Brewery Tap, in Westgate.

Mr Posnett said: “One of our biggest achievements is what we have done with Citra.

Oakham Ales.

“We launched Citra in 2010 and were the first UK brewery to brew commercially using the Citra hop.

“To see what has happened - building that brand from nothing in 2010 to where it is now - has been brilliant.

“It is now our biggest selling beer both in bottle and cask and we are about to launch it in a can and a keg version.

“It makes up 90 per cent of the bottles that we sell and is 25 per cent of our total volume of beer which is about 50,000 hectare litres a year.”

Mr Posnett said that when he joined Oakham Ales there were 12 staff.

He said: “We now have 40 staff. There was one brewer in 2010 and now we have five.

“We have increased increased volumes and sales five fold.”

The business also embarked on a £2 million expansion programme.

This has involved the construction of a new 900 square metre building to house 16 new fermentation and conditioning vessels, a new cold store and improved water processing facilities.

This will double existing tank capacity and allow the business to brew up to 75,000 brewers’ barrels of beer per year.

A new Whirlpool copper was also installed to allow the brewing using hop pellets.

Mr Posnett said: “In 2010 we were using 20 per cent of the site’s capacity and had filled it two years ago.”

Although the brewery is highly successful - it was named Brewery of the Year by the Good Pub Guide last year - the landscape is changing. More people opt to drink at home than visit a pub, people tend to drink less and there are a growing number of breweries.

Mr Posnett said: In 2010 there were about 500 breweries in the UK now there are about 2,400 breweries.

“We have all these breweries now and less pubs, people are drinking less but there are more breweries - that’s our biggest challenge.

“We need to look at different styles of products - perhaps produce more bottles.

“And people are drinking less. You can see a lot of zero zero beers about now and maybe that is something we have to look to in the future.”