Brexit may be looming, but British beer is sticking with Europe.
If you drink a lot of craft beer (or even if you don’t), you’re likely familiar with the Brewers Association—America’s craft beer trade group and the people behind everything from the Great American Beer Festival to those “Certified Independent Craft” logos you may notice on a lot of brews to full-on craft beer advertising campaigns. But the U.S. isn’t alone in having a dedicated organization to protect the interest of small brewers, and now, nine of these associations from across Europe have agreed to band together in an effort to promote independent craft beer across the entire European continent.
The newly-formed Independent Brewers of Europe (IBE) unites trade organizations from Ireland (Independent Brewers of Ireland), the United Kingdom (The Society of Independent Brewers), France (Syndicat National des Brasseurs Indépendants), Italy (Unionbirrai), Sweden (Scanian Beverage Producers), Denmark (Det Fri Øl), the Netherlands (Craft Brewers Netherlands), the Czech Republic (Czech and Moravian Microbreweries Association), and Spain (La Asociacion Española de Cerveceras Artesanas Independientes) into one continent-wide force representing over 2,000 independent breweries in total. The group also potentially has room for expansion, as Mike Benner, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), suggests that Europe is home to “well over 5,000 breweries” in total continent-wide.
The new organization’s stated goal is to work both “politically and commercially” to raise the profile of smaller brewers against massive industry leaders like Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken, companies which still dominate the market “despite the swing in consumer demand to craft-brewed beer,” as Benner said according to FoodBev Media. IBE hopes to serve as a single point of contact for everything independent European beer moving forward.
With the deadline for Brexit drawing near, the formation of the IBE also takes on additional importance for SIBA and the British beer market in general. “As the UK’s exit from the EU draws closer I’m pleased that we will be able to work with groups similar to SIBA to the commercial benefit of our members, sharing best practice and ideas to help develop the sector for all,” Benner added. Turns out that even when politicians can’t get along, brewers are still down to work together and have a pint or two.