Figures released today by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) suggest there are now fewer breweries in the UK compared to a year ago.

SIBA’s UK Brewery Tracker shows the total number of active brewers is now 1815, down from 1828 in January last year – an overall net closure of 13 breweries.

SIBA chief executive Andy Slee said the tracker revealed a “worrying” geographical trend.

“What is perhaps most worrying about the figures are the level of closures being experienced in the North of England – with the North West seeing a net closure rate that is higher than the national figure at a huge -14, and the North East didn’t fare much better, with the second highest in the UK and a -9 net closure rate for 2023,” he said. “It is in these areas where the combined effect of rising production costs hurting margins and the cost of living crisis lowering sales appear to be hitting brewery businesses the hardest, with worrying independent brewery closure rates across the North.”

Slee called on the government to help protect independent breweries.

“Trading has been incredibly tough for independent breweries, and whilst the government’s welcome introduction of draught relief for beer sold in pubs and taprooms last year was welcome, we would like to see it extended in 2024 to a significant 20% discount,” he said.

Elsewhere the report found that the Welsh brewing industry also struggled, with a -6 net closure rate for 2023.

Most openings in the period were in the East and South of England.

Last month, investment firm Breal Group added Warwickshire-based Purity Brewing Co to its growing portfolio of breweries.