Coronavirus: Caution urged on beer ullage

TRADE groups have urged pubs to refrain from destroying spoilt beer until they have spoken to and received written agreement from their supplier.

Ordinarily the destruction of spoiled beer has to be supervised by an individual from the brewery. Due to the ongoing pandemic HMRC has waived this rule in order to speed the process of reclaiming duty on unsellable beer.

But trade groups have said it is essential that pubs have written permission from their brewer or beer supplier before they destroy any beer, and keep records of any product they destroy. Otherwise the brewer will not be able to claim back any excise and so won’t be able to pass this on to the publican.

Operators are advised to contact their supplier before doing anything.

The British Beer & Pub Association advised: “First and foremost, it is critical that any pub that wishes to destroy ‘unmerchantable’ beer due to Covid-19 closures get written agreement from the brewer, or ensure that their supplier has received written agreement. If all the appropriate steps are taken to sufficiently record the destruction and provide an audit trail for HMRC, the brewer may either credit a pub with the value of the excise duty of any destroyed beer or replace the goods​ with fresh stock when available and safe to deliver. The brewer must provide their customer with evidence of this credit or replacement.

“Failure to record properly means a brewer will not be able to claim back the excise, and therefore will not be able to pass on credit/replace stock. It is vital that no destruction is carried out until all the necessary steps are understood, agreed to, and able to be carried out fully in accordance with HMRC requirements.”

SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, is in the process of creating a guide for brewers and pubs on the correct process for disposing of beer and has encouraged anyone concerned about it to contact the group at