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HMRC internal manual

Beer Guidance

HM Revenue & Customs
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Spoilt Beer: Destruction


Brewers have practical control of all aspects of spoilt beer in cases where a proper audit trail exists. This effectively gives brewers the facility to destroy beer at a time and place of their choosing. However, entitlement to reclaim duty on spoilt beer will depend on the conditions, as described in paragraph 20.12 of Notice 226, being met.

Brewers can destroy spoilt beer directly from the container, either remotely or after return to brewery premises. They may also collect spoilt beer into a Spoilt Beer Vessel (SBV) for later destruction. In this case, brewers may destroy the beer by the addition of vegetable dye prior to collection for animal feed or land spreading, or they may pour direct to drain. Officers must be satisfied that the beer is made unsaleable as a beverage. The relevant regulation is 29(1) of the Beer Regulations 1993.

Remote destruction of spoilt beer is permitted, subject to the additional conditions, listed in paragraph 20.13 of Notice 226, being met.

Action before destruction

Normally, persons destroying beer are required to measure the quantity and strength of the beer and enter the results in a spoilt beer record (BEER3870 ‘Records’ refers) before beer is destroyed. However, there may be occasions when the precise quantity and strength are not known before destruction begins [e.g. the destruction of cans at a remote site where this requirement may be waived]. In other cases there may be adequate commercial records which provide the information required which will allow brewers or packagers to complete the spoilt beer record later than the specified times. The information required is in regulation 30(1) of the Beer Regulations 1993.

Notice of destruction

Advance notice of the date and time of destruction should only be required in exceptional circumstances when there is a real risk to the revenue. If notice is required, the relevant regulations are 30(2) and (3) of the Beer Regulations 1993.

Transfer of spoilt beer into other containers

Where claimants transfer spoilt beer from the containers in which it was returned to another vessel for later destruction, they must complete the spoilt beer record and include its strength and quantity to establish a clear audit trail from the time it is returned until the time it is finally destroyed.