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HMRC internal manual

Beer Guidance

Beer production: Recovery of beer and alcohol

Part of the normal production process includes recovery of beer and alcohol from yeast by pressing, centrifuging and washing. This produces recovered beer with an alcoholic content. There is no objection to this extract being returned to normal beer production as the alcohol content is not considered to be a spirit. There are, however, some methods of alcohol extraction where the alcohol produced is considered to be a spirit.

Some brewers recover alcohol from yeast by distillation. Alcohol is also recovered from de-alcoholisation processes during the production of low alcohol and alcohol free beers. In both cases, the alcohol produced is deemed to be a spirit and therefore the brewer must:

  • be licensed as a distiller;
  • hold a distiller’s warehouse approval; and
  • comply with the appropriate requirements of the Spirits Regulations 1991.

If brewers intend to produce alcoholic beverages other than beer using the extracted alcohol (or alcohol obtained from other sources), they may need to obtain additional approvals, for example, made-wine producer’s licence, trade facility warehouse approval, compounder’s licence. Further information can be found in sections 19.4 and 22 of Notice 226.