Cap calls for beer tax

March 11, 2023 BY

Bells Beach Brewing head brewer and co-founder Jono Moscrop. Photo: TIM LAMACRAFT

BREWERS and publicans are calling for a cap on the beer excise after incurring an almost 8 per cent increase on both draught and bottled product in the past six months.

The tax rise has added 40 cents to the price of a pot at the Torquay, Grovedale and Barwon Heads pubs, according to owner and operator Joel Taylor, who said he had been fielding feedback from patrons about the added cost.

“[They’ve been] saying I can’t believe how expensive beer is… saying that it’s probably going to change the way that they consume, and that they might visit less,” he said.

The beer excise is linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and automatically raises twice a year in August and February. Pegged to inflation, the two most recent hikes were four per cent last year and 3.7 per cent last month.

“We understand the situation, inflation is going up and that means the price of things goes up,” Mr Taylor said.

“But the price of beer goes up twice a year already, so there really should be a ceiling on it at some point.”

Toquay Hotel owner Joel Taylor says patrons are questioning the rapid price rise of beer.

He believes an excise cap is reasonable given Australians already pay some of the highest beer prices in the world.
The Brewers Association of Australia recently stated Australia has the fourth-highest beer tax globally, but was expected to overtake Japan in October and become the third-highest.

It is calling on the federal government to consider a 50 per cent tax reduction on draught beer and an excise freeze on bottled beer.

The Otway Brewing Group’s co-founder Andrew Noseda said he had witnessed a tapering-off of consumer spending habits at his venues, and supported calls for a tax cap to relieve the rising cost to consumers and suppliers.

“We’re seeing at the hotels now people coming out eating, drinking, going home, not staying to have another drink,” he said.

He said food and drink was a logical “non-essential expenditure” for people to cut back on, given rising interest rates and cost of living.

“We’re seeing it, it absolutely makes sense, we’re going to get an economic slowdown in some areas, hospitality is going to be one of them,” he said.

Bells Beach Brewing co-founder Jono Moscrop said the company was yet to breach the $350,000 cap where the excise kicked in, but expected it would within a year and was considering the implications when it did.

“But for us that’s only one of the cost pressures for the business, everything else is going up in price,” he said, listing cleaning products, power bills and a recent 30 per cent malt price increase as examples.

“We’re a growing business so we don’t really want to push our prices up significantly on to consumers, because craft beer is probably one of the things that starts to drop off the menu when people are tightening their budgets.”