Politicians given beer masterclass
Ten MPs filed into the cavernous Cellar Bar at the Red Lion pub in London’s Whitehall to take a Beer Academy masterclass and learn about beer’s role in the UK economy.
Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee, was one of the Conservative MPs present, while Labour was also represented among politicians from England, Scotland and Wales.
They were given a tasting of six beers – Beaverton Smoked Porter, Worthington White Shield IPA, Wye Valley Hereford Pale Ale, Sharp’s Cornish Pilsner, Manchester Marble’s Ginger 5.1 and Thornbridge Halcyon IPA – which were chosen to highlight innovation and diversity in the thriving British beer market.
Alex Barlow, training director at the Beer Academy, told the MPs: “We are in a great revival of British brewing. Over 1,500 breweries are now operating in the UK – a great number and a great resurgence in recent years, helped by recent legislation as well, so something you can pat yourselves on the back for.
“These breweries are creating lots of jobs. Even the smaller breweries employ around five people. There is also good revenue coming from brewing.
“Keep the taxes in the right place, support the jobs and support the innovation.”
The beer market has returned to growth – up 0.2% on a year ago, according to IRI and CGA for the year to March 2014 – for the first time since the recession began, after the government scrapped the duty escalator and cut tax on beer in two successive Budgets.
Andrew Griffiths MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, told OLN the group is trying to educate as many MPs as possible about the positive role beer plays in society to help keep the momentum going.
“The more MPs understand about beer, the more likely they are to stand up and do something in parliament,” he said.
“There is lots of talk about binge drinking and antisocial behaviour but we think we can educate MPs that beer is part of the solution, not part of the problem.
“The beer group has shown
we can motivate MPs to act on behalf of beer – we have seen that in the Budget – but it’s important that we continue to engage with MPs as debates about binge drinking are too easily hijacked by the health lobby.”
He later told the assembled politicians: “Beer enriches our lives, it employs thousands of people in our constituencies and it’s so important.
“Having scrapped the hated beer duty escalator we have seen growth in beer sales for the first time in years.”