A KEIGHLEY brewery boss has welcomed findings of a new report which reveals a surge in beer production volumes nationally.

According to the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), average volumes are up 14 per cent compared to last year.

The society says the increase means that beer production by independent breweries has returned to pre-pandemic levels for the first time.

It adds that cask beers have also seen a rise in output, by ten per cent year-on-year.

The report is based on data collated from hundreds of society members, plus industry analysis and specially-commissioned consumer research carried out via YouGov.

Tim Dewey, chief executive of Timothy Taylor's, welcomes the headline findings – but voices a word of caution.

He says: "The report is quite wide-ranging and very much focused on smaller, local craft brewers; we are a member of SIBA, but larger than its typical member and in national distribution.

"I am delighted that the society has seen its member beer production volumes increase by 14 per cent compared to 2023, returning to pre-Covid levels. This is despite data, from the British Beer and Pub Association, which indicates the pub beer market has grown in volume by only one per cent in the first quarter of 2024. This is perhaps a reflection of a point made by SIBA that almost a quarter of consumers, 24 per cent, say they never visit their local pub.

"As a major producer of cask ale, I'm also pleased to see growth of ten per cent in SIBA member cask volumes. This very much bucks the trend, as the overall cask market remains a concern, with data showing a volume decrease of 7.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year. Fortunately, Timothy Taylor’s continues to grow its cask volume despite this challenging market environment."

SIBA chief executive, Andy Slee, says: "The demand for local, independently-brewed beer in the UK is strong.

"Members are reporting that beer production volumes are well up. The short-term issue for small independent breweries isn't demand – it's profitability, rising costs and financial pressures such as lingering Covid debt.

"Forty-three per cent of members claim 'survival' is their main priority.

"That figure is down by 20 per cent from 2023, but far too many breweries are simply trying to survive rather than thrive. So whilst there are many positive signs highlighted in the report, for now it’s cautious optimism."