New Rules regarding re-packaging beers (UK)

I’ll try to tread carefully with this one as I do volunteer at Beer Festivals and wish to continue to do so.

From August the 1st the law regarding sales of beer through the likes of pubs, clubs, Beer Festivals and the like will change, this is due to a lower level of duty being charged on beers and ciders in containers of 20L and above.

Reform of Alcohol Duty Rates and Reliefs - GOV.UK (

For us this will mostly affect people who want to decant alcohol into bottles to take away, whether that is directly from the bar or surreptitiously into their own panda pop bottles. It is now going to be an extremely grey area. In essence the duty paid on the alcohol will be at a lower level than if it was bought in a supermarket etc. in a bottle or can. This means that the difference needs to be paid to HM Customs and excise and failure to do so makes both the bottler and the licencee break the law.
I have no current idea of how pubs, clubs etc. are going to handle this or what they are going to do if someone attempts to break the new rule, however I do know that Camra are saying that they will police it to avoid losing their licences. No beers will be filled into take-away containers and if anyone is seen bottling beers for take away they will be ejected from the Festival.
The first festival where this will be tested is GBBF, I hear that bags will be checked both inwards, this covers the new rules for events with over 500 people attending after the Manchester bombing, and outwards, staff will also be made aware of the threat posed by HM Customs and Excise and a chance of spot checks.
For me, I have never bottled beers for taking away so little changes, but I do know that this is a popular thing to do among some UK Ratebeerians, so I thought I would bring it to your attention.
Camra are obviously taking the new rules possibly more seriously than the intention was by the rule makers, but they do have a reputation to maintain. It seems to me this will add to costs of festivals with more stewarding and it will make it a more stressful situation for unpaid volunteers, possibly to the point where getting volunteers might prove extremely difficult, I for one will not go round looking for people bottling beer they have paid for.
HM Treasury are worried that bottled beers at a lower duty could be re sold on without the higher duty being covered.


Interesting, thanks for posting this, though like you this is not something that would ever impact me. This does seem a little OTT on the part of CAMRA. I cannot imagine for one minute that someone filling a few panda bottles for consumption at home is of any interest to HMRC, I mean after decanting into one of these bottles the shelf life is very limited and it would never be a product that is likely to be sold on.


Hi Fin. Completely agree HMRC are probably more worried about people buying up key kegs and repackaging in bulk, but Camra being what they are, are going for a belt and braces approach. It will be interesting to see how that goes.


So where does that leave the very many pubs, bottle shops, breweries etc who currently offer take-outs, growlers, crowlers etc. Rhetorical question to you @imdownthepub as you already said you have no idea but interested if anyone has answers.

Theoretically it will be against the law unless the seller pays the higher duty rate.

Good info. So if you buy a pint and then pour it to bottle from your glass, who will be punished?!

I know that in Estonia some bars/shops used to sell beers to go on tap in the following way: you bought an open bottle filled with beer (basically an open vessel, you can call it a bottle shaped cup!) and you were also given a cap, and then you had to seal it yourself. Hence they never sold you bottle to go…

Trust CAMRA to get all excited about new rules!

I will wager that HMRC do not care, at all.

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This is bullshit and racism against pandas! If I pay for a beer wherever I am then I should be able to do with it as I see fit. Especially, under the crown that makes me pay for entrance, glass (oh yeah, I’m going to wait for the refund in long ass line after drinking all day :roll_eyes:), other potential fees and for each cask I get at an event.


My local pubs are already saying they won’t be able to do anymore growler fills. :slightly_frowning_face:

If they make any worthwhile income from growler pours im sure they would adapt to this ridiculous taxation claim … if its just an occasional non important top up …which it seems it is then i can understand

The funny thing is that the whole thing is aimed to assist pubs and clubs etc. by giving them a slight tax advantage over the supermarkets, however it may prove to be a difficult hurdle to overcome for some outlets.



I wonder how this will affect the likes of Low Cost Beer, who buy up short dated kegs / BIABs and sell them on in decanted pandas.

Seems like their model could be a goner, or maybe they’ll just need to charge the higher level of duty on the decanted beers/ciders that they sell.

depends who they buy them off - if it’s wholesalers then there’s no mechanism to charge extra duty if the brewery sold it at draught rate

Wow … absolute nutters tonight as i left the GBBF an hour ago

Airport level scannners

Having failed that I was taken into a small room

Stripped naked

Gloves on

All that to find my 2 pandas !


Where were you hiding them?


Have just left GBBF day 2

No interest in checking bags or anything on the way out

Same as any other year … just a couple of folks handing out plastic bags to put your glass in


This sounds like the Pandas might not be extinct!

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Not extinct, but just with a possible added piquancy depending on where the panda mule had to hide them…

UTAC Pandas? The WWF would not be happy …

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