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German and Belgian ales vanish from UK shelves amid supply chaos

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 2 days ago Sean Poulter Consumer Affairs Editor For The Daily Mail
a close up of a person holding a glass of beer on a table: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

Beer importers are seeing shortages of specialist brews from Germany and Belgium as a result of Brexit red tape and Covid-19.

The company ‘Beers of Europe’, which claims to operate the biggest beer shop in Britain as well as offering online sales, has issued a warning about the problem to customers.

British craft brewers have seized on the news with a call to drinkers to ‘Buy British’ in an effort to reclaim at least some of the sales lost during the pandemic lockdown of pubs, which has devastated the industry.

Beer importers are seeing shortages of specialist brews from Germany and Belgium as a result of Brexit red tape and Covid-19. Picture: Stock © Provided by Daily Mail Beer importers are seeing shortages of specialist brews from Germany and Belgium as a result of Brexit red tape and Covid-19. Picture: Stock

Experts say there is a long list of British brewers producing fabulous German-style pilsners, wheat beers and Belgian-style saisons, as well as traditional ales and stouts.

The difficulty in importing beer from continental Europe reflects a wider problem of Brexit red tape and costs facing companies and individuals trying to get goods, from cheese to bath taps, across the Channel.

Beers of Europe issued an alert to customers reading: ‘As many of you know, we are currently experiencing shortages of our German and Belgian beers.

a person drinking from a glass: Experts say there is a long list of British brewers producing fabulous German-style pilsners, wheat beers and Belgian-style saisons, as well as traditional ales and stouts. Picture: Stock © Provided by Daily Mail Experts say there is a long list of British brewers producing fabulous German-style pilsners, wheat beers and Belgian-style saisons, as well as traditional ales and stouts. Picture: Stock

‘We have stock on order but unfortunately, it has been delayed due to transport issues in and out of Europe. Many hauliers are experiencing a lack of driver and lorry availability.’

Beer sommelier Neil Walker selects British alternatives to the European beers in short supply 

North Brewing Co (West Yorkshire) - Springwell Pilsner 4.5%

This light and well-rounded German style Pilsner uses Callista and MittelFruh hops for a crisp, grassy finish.

Geipel Brewing (North Wales) - Hefeweizen 5.2%

This naturally hazy German style wheat beer has all the characteristic banana, bubblegum and clove typical of this unique beer.

Fyne Ales (Argyll) - Beams 5.7%

A rustic, blended saison combining two different barrel aged vintages, this is complex, juicy and funky, but incredibly drinkable.

Bohem (London) - Amos Czech Pilsner 4.9%

Authentic Bohemian Czech lager brewed by Czechs in London - this is bready and complex with notes of honey, lemon and a dry bitterness.

Burning Sky Brewery (Sussex) - Saison Houblon 4.5%

This traditional Belgian style Saison is crisp, refreshing and aromatic, with a slightly peppery finish from the European Noble hops.

Utopian Brewing (Devon) - British Unfiltered Lager 4.7%

Brewed in the Bavarian Helles style and left unfiltered for maximum flavour, this lager is perfectly balanced between cereal malt and clean hop character

Lost and Grounded (Bristol) - Apophenia 8.8%

A Belgian beer from Bristol made in the 'Tripel' style, with coriander and orange peel added to accentuate this strong, complex brew.

Thornbridge Brewery (Derbyshire) - Lukas Helles Lager 4.2%

An elegant and light Munich style Helles that could go toe-to-toe with the best Bavarian lagers in it's refined drinkability.

Hawkshead (Lake District) - Solar Sour Berliner Weisse 3.3%

Traditionally low strength and tart, this Berliner Weisse from the Lakes is hugely refreshing and zesty, without being overly sour.

DEYA (Gloucestershire) - Italian Pils 4.4%

Amazingly fresh hop aromas and a clean, dry finish make this dry-hopped Pilsner incredibly satisfying and moreish.

It adds: ‘We appreciate it is frustrating when your favourite beers are unavailable. Rest assured that we are working to resolve these delays but it is very much dependent on the haulage position and this is something out of our control.’

Sales director at the firm, based in Norfolk, Jason Clark, said: ‘Different paperwork is required, so it is taking a bit longer this first time for the suppliers to switch over.

‘We are also getting feedback from the transport company that drivers are reluctant to travel over because it can take several days to get back out. I think this is a combination of Brexit and Covid.’

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), which represents some 723 small producers, said UK craft beer production and sales have been hard hit by the pandemic.

It estimates that 200 million fewer pints of craft beer were brewed in 2020 against the background of lockdown pub closures. The UK’s independent brewing sector contracted a massive 34per cent in 2020 and some 83per cent of breweries produced less beer.

SIBA spokesman, Neil Walker, who is a beer sommelier, identified several fabulous British brews that match the style of German and Belgium beers. 

These include a German-style pilsner called Springwell, from the North Brewing Co, in West Yorkshire, a German-style wheat beer called Hefeweizen from the Geipel Brewing, in north Wales, and the Belgian-style Saison Houblon from the Burning Sky Brewery, in Sussex.

Mr Walker said: ‘There has never been a better time to buy British beer and small independent brewers across there UK need your support now more than ever.

‘As well as traditional British beer styles such as Bitter, Porter and Pale Ale, innovative brewers across the UK are now producing World-class beers in a plethora of international styles, including German and Czech style lagers, Belgian saisons and sour beers, as well as aromatic, hop-forward American IPAs - it really is possible to drink beer styles from across the Globe, fresh from your local independent craft brewery.’

He added: ‘Brexit and Covid 19 has caused difficulties for imports of continental beers to the UK, but similarly it has also caused issues for UK brewers exporting their beers to the continent.

‘Coronavirus has seen 200 million fewer pints of independent craft beer brewed in 2020 and small breweries struggling to stay afloat. 

'Now, more than ever, your local brewery needs your support, so whatever style of beer you enjoy why not seek and support your local craft brewery.’

The Cloudwater Brew Co, from Manchester, recently placed eighth in the list of the world’s best brewers, based on ratings by ale aficionados on the website RateBeer.com.

Others that scored well included the Kernel Brewery, of Bermondsey, and Fuller’s, based in Chiswick, west London, whose most popular brews include London Pride.

Four British producers were placed in a top ten of the world’s best new producers by RateBeer.com, including Newbarns Brewery, from Edinburgh, which came in second.

In fourth place, was the small LHG Brewpub, based in Bristol, while the Full Circle Brew Co, from Newcastle was in seventh, and Alpha Delta Brewing, from Newburn, Tyne & Wear, was in ninth.

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