Last drop of beer leaves Upham Brewery as its focus moves to pubs

A brewery in the Meon Valley has produced its last drop of beer after seven years in operation.

Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 3:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 3:27 pm
Upham Brewery: Left to right, NatWests Victoria Read, brew master James Stephenson, NatWests Chris Priest, and Robb Harris of The Upham Group at the Groups brewery.

Upham Brewery – famous for its Tipster, Punter and Stakes beers that were even stocked in Tesco and Co-op – has seen its last kegs leave its base at Stakes Farm, Cross Lane, this week. 

A message on its website says: ‘We regret to inform you that Upham Brewery is no longer in business, however we do still have our beautiful collection of pubs.' 

Director David Butcher said it was ‘heart-breaking’ but a number of factors had led to the decision. 

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One of the products from Upham Brewery Picture by: Malcolm Wells (180613-3675)

He said: ‘It’s been a painful time but I’m pleased that all of our staff are employed either in other areas of our business or at other breweries and we wish them well. The pubs are doing really well. The rest of the business is going well but we could not see a future for the brewery.’ 

David said the business was a victim of its own success, as government rules mean that a brewer up to 5,000 hectolitres (around 880,000 pints) per year gets tax relief – and only pays 50 per cent of the standard duty rate. Above 5,000hl, the rate at which brewers pay tapers down until 60,000hl – whereby the full standard duty rate is applied – making it more expensive. 

He said: ‘It was a choice between a big investment to move the production up or come out of the market. The market has become so saturated with breweries, some producing very small quantities, that it’s very competitive. It’s been heartbreaking. We couldn’t justify carrying on.’ 

David also said that uncertainty around Brexit had an effect, with people reluctant to spend on luxuries such as beer. 

Jess Spreadbury from Upham Brewery serving up a taster to a guest at the launch of the 18th annual Hampshire Food Festival, run by Hampshire Fare. Picture: The Electric Eye Photography

He added: ‘There’s a fear that the cost of beer production will go up even more, and the consumer is just not spending. People are holding back. While our production was English, there was a knock on effect.' 

David thanked people for their support. He said: ‘We’ve had numerous messages of support. It’s a very sad decision and we want to thank everyone for their support. We’ll continue to stock good local beer in our pubs in support for some of the fabulous breweries we have in this country.’ 

Upham runs 15 pubs across the south including the The Navigator in Lower Swanwick, The Thomas Lord, West Meon and The Wheelwright’s Arms, Havant.