8.5 billion pints of beer sold in 2018 amid calls for tax to be lowered

Beer remains Britain's most popular alcoholic drink after 8.5 billion pints were sold in 2018.

Pints of beer. Picture: PA
Pints of beer. Picture: PA

The amount - the equivalent of 48,559,000 hectolitres - compares with 12,901,700 hectolitres of wine, or 7.4 billion 175 ml glasses, according to HM Revenue and Customs data.

Some 1.2 billion pints of cider, or 6,804,000 hectolitres, were sold over the same period, the figures, published in the British Beer & Pub Association's (BBPA) latest handbook, show.

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The BBPA said 100 new breweries opened in the UK in 2018, taking the total number to 2,530 - an increase of 2,030 breweries since 2000.

However, the industry body said beer was overtaxed in the UK, with Britons paying a "staggering" 11 times more duty than drinkers in Germany or Spain.

Drinkers pay 54p in beer duty on a 5% ABV (alcohol by volume) pint.

The BBPA said beer was "vital" to the manufacturing sector, with 82% of the volume brewed in the UK being drunk here, and pubs and brewing combined creating almost 900,000 jobs.

The BBPA is backing a campaign calling on the Chancellor to cut beer tax at the next Budget to support community locals which sell a higher proportion of beer, making them particularly sensitive to beer tax hikes.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "It is clear from these numbers that beer is the most popular alcoholic drink, but it is without doubt overtaxed.

"Should tax on a pint continue to rise then drinking in the pub will no longer be affordable for many British beer drinkers, meaning pubs will continue to close.

"This is why we are backing the Long Live The Local campaign, calling on the Chancellor to cut beer tax and support local pubs."