Brewing Syndicate - do regs apply?

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Dave Parry

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Thanks all.

Sounds like I just need to make sure that it is clear to all, inside and outside, that we are only brewing for domestic consumption as per @Sadfield’s reference to the Excise Notice 226, para 4.4.

I’ll let you know how it goes.
 

simon12

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It must be ok as is it ubrew or something rent equipment for profit when no duty is paid on the beer.
Good luck it sounds like fun.
 

Sadfield

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It must be ok as is it ubrew or something rent equipment for profit when no duty is paid on the beer.
Good luck it sounds like fun.
From the Ubrew site.


"HOW DOES SELLING THE BEER WORK REGARDING DUTY, ETC?
UBREW is a registered brewery - meaning that if after you've brewed a few batches and feel like going pro, all you have to do is register with HMRC as brewer. You then can pay duty on any beer you brew, and are legal to sell it. Full details on this are available on HMRC's website, but you can always chat to us in person for tips."
So Ubrew, as a registered brewery, pay the duty on the beer you take for your own consumption (likely out of your monthly membership), unless you choose to sell the beer, then you take responsibility for the duty yourself, which benefits them.
 

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Dave Parry

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One of our sponsors is currently running a "Make an offer - Dark Farm Mini Keg Systems" offer here - https://www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk/threads/make-and-offer-dark-farm-mini-keg-systems.80738/

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I have two of their 10l kegs already, and I signed up as a member to get my T shirt too! It was this that put me on to the idea. So much less hassle than bottling. I keg half and bottle half so I have some to take out and about. If I had a 5l keg I could probably take that with me to friends instead if bottles. I am now force carbonating and it tastes great after a couple of weeks in the keg. I’ve got some Sodastream adapters too to make the CO2 cheaper. Not only easier, but looks much more like a serious Brewer when you share with friends.
 

Sadfield

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I think I will, just to be safe. Just interesting that no one else seems to have gone down this avenue of syndicate private ownership before.
Seriously. Don't give them any traceable details, just in case you decide to go on with the venture, regardless of what they say.

As a homebrew club, through a private email address, we enquired about legality of giving away beer at a local beer festival. After telling us we couldn't do it, they continued to fish for info on our club and the festival.
 
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Dave Parry

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Seriously. Don't give them any traceable details, just in case you decide to go on with the venture, regardless of what they say.

As a homebrew club, through a private email address, we enquired about legality of giving away beer at a local beer festival. After telling us we couldn't do it, they continued to fish for info on our club and the festival.
Good tip @Sadfield. You’d think if you were asking in good faith and wanting to make sure you were doing it right then they wouldn’t use that against you. It almost discourages anyone asking, which is surely not something they would want.

I might get a solicitor or accountant to ask or something.
 

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Good tip @Sadfield. You’d think if you were asking in good faith and wanting to make sure you were doing it right then they wouldn’t use that against you. It almost discourages anyone asking, which is surely not something they would want.

I might get a solicitor or accountant to ask or something.
HMRC are only interested in making sure you pay any duty due and that you operate within the law. Which I'm sure is exactly what you want to do. They will provide advice for free, a solicitor or accountant will charge.
 

Sadfield

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HMRC are only interested in making sure you pay any duty due and that you operate within the law. Which I'm sure is exactly what you want to do. They will provide advice for free, a solicitor or accountant will charge.
Yeah, I wouldn't go that far, with accountants or solicitors. Just provide as little personal info as possible.

I'd be surprised if you get a favourable answer, as they are pretty keen to stop unregistered alcohol production, and you are essentially offering to contract brew for a group of people, to get a supply of alcohol without paying duty. You would not be brewing solely for your own consumption. Given that you feel you need to check the legality would suggest this is more than a few mates sharing a hobby, even the word syndicate suggests some sort of business venture.

Good luck.
 
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Druncan

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We do it all, and dance to the tune. (beer & cider HMRC) As to get it wrong is a mega fookup,,, that can cost everything you value. If you supply booze you will be of interest,, Cider is easier get, maybe try a stater cider brewing business exemption for up to 700hl commercial production as a first test to evaluate your plans? Stay upwind of dodgeing the fallout?
 

Clint

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The thing is as home brewers we aren't even supposed to give any of it away...not even to people who come round for a beer and a BBQ.....that suits me fine...MY 16 or so brews this year will be well looked after....
 

Dave Parry

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Exciting news.

I bit the bullet and finally rang HMRC. Three different phone numbers later and half an hour wait wasing in a queue I finally got to speak to somebody very knowledgeable on the subject.

She instantly referred me to guidance note 226 paragraph 4.4 which refers to the exemptions being for “domestic consumption”. She was very relaxed about the whole idea of sharing equipment for a Brewery and even sharing the cost of ingredients. As far as she was concerned the main criteria is that you are not selling the beer or giving it away to others but are just using it yourselves and she said there would be no requirement to even register as a brewery and submit nil returns.

I challenged her on the interpretation that you are not even allowed to give the beer to a visitor to the house, but she agreed this was an over interpretation (I suppose this would be “personal consumption“ rather than “domestic consumption“). It appears that in this sense the word “domestic“ means “not commercial“.

To get any advice out of her at all I had to give my full address and name, but the call will be recorded at least so I can refer back to this if needed.

I hope that helps anyone else in a similar situation. I will let you know how the rest of the project progresses. Having said that, all comments made here are “without prejudice“ and you should not rely on this as your own legal advice!
 
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Sadfield

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Great news.

I guess the key word in that is interpretation, and even amongst HMRC employees that could be different. The likelyhood of them finding out would have been minimal without third party intervention, but at least you've now got record of permission. Getting caught without that, may have swayed the generosity of interpretation.
 

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HMRC's obsession at the moment is the wholesale of non duty paid alcohol. This has resulted in the introduction of a further license requirement for brewers who sell in bulk to retailers. The Wholesale Alcohol legislation is very strict and caused a brewer acquaintance to go out of business. He supplied many local pubs, shops and supermarkets but could not pass the criteria for the new license. His retail business could not support the expansion he had undertaken prior to the new legislation. I am very sure they would not expend any resources on pursuing brewing collectives where no profit is involved!
Gulp....I have to admit that I worked for the HMRC devil in the past (over 30 years ago to be fair) but know that the civil service reacts at a very slow pace. It also picks and chooses it's targets....never the fat cat tax dodgers though!!!!! So a collective, non profit brewing operation will be of no interest to HMRC.
Good luck with the collective!
Proviso....any advice given here is personal opinion and should not be regarded as legally founded and or of a professional nature or be founded on anything other than conjecture!.... Still the civil servant comes out!!!!
 
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BrewRubha

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I am Ex-****....well maybe! Did enjoy chasing tax dodgers on secondments to investigations though. "Why should I pay my share and you feel you shouldn't" was my attitude.
 
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