Heineken stockpiles beer ahead of Brexit. photo: Getty Images

Beer brands are bracing for the unknown in the U.K.

Mike Pomranz
November 09, 2018

It’s been over two years since the United Kingdom voted to “Brexit” from the European Union, and an unsettling number of questions remain unanswered. But as the U.K. hurtles towards next year’s March 29 official leave date, Heineken apparently wants to make sure there’s one question Brits won’t have to worry about: Will I run out of beer?

Adrian Colman, CEO of the British logistics company Wincanton, told Bloomberg that his organization is working with Heineken to stockpile thousands of pallets worth of goods—both ingredients for producing alcoholic beverages in the U.K. and imported drinks—ahead of the March 29 deadline. He suggested that additional supplies had already been set aside within British borders and more were set to arrive in the upcoming weeks and months.

In a statement, Heineken told the business site that, yes, some stockpiling was taking place, but the beer maker seemed to play down the Brexit angle. “We always build additional buffer stock in the first quarter of the year to manage peak demand in the summer,” Heineken explained. “We have taken a small amount of additional warehousing space to give us greater flexibility to meet customer demands.”

Meanwhile, though Colman chose to only mention Heineken by name, he said that other alcoholic beverage brands Wincanton works with were also eyeing up ways to avoid a bumpy transition as the Brits left the E.U. “New systems and processes, whatever the change—even if very minimal—won’t be achieved overnight,” Colman was quoted as saying, somewhat ominously.

Attempting to provide an additional sigh of relief, Heineken pointed out that over 90 percent of the beer sold in the U.K. is brewed in the U.K. But as we’ve discussed in the past, just because beer is produced in the U.K. doesn’t solve all of British beer lovers’ problems: Everything from ingredients to packaging to equipment can often be imported from outside of the British Isles. So yes, the Brits might not run out of beer, but they may want to start savoring beers made with their favorite foreign hops while they still don’t have any problems getting them.

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