It was the SIBA South Eastern AGM last week. There were a lot of people at the meeting, including the managing director Mike Benner and the operations director Nick Stafford. The meeting was well attended, and there was a lot to discuss so at times it felt a bit rushed and chaotic.
Nick Stafford spoke on the recent drop in the money that Enterprise Inns will pay under SIBA's Beerflex scheme. Rather than the negotiated price drop they mentioned in emails it was clear that the price drop was imposed by Enterprise, and also that he himself didn't think the prices paid by Beerflex were worth it. He said Beerflex now only accounted for 5% of the sales from his own brewery.
Mike Benner also spoke, a slightly surreal intervention particularly sticks in mind. After saying that he was not here to influence decisions taken by the members he argued at length against a proposal for members to have control over SIBA's decisions that affect them financially, leading one brewer to interject with the impressively sarky comment "That's you sitting on the fence then?". Brenner's arguments were that all decisions were overseen by 24 brewing representatives. This got me thinking about the gap between small and very small breweries, which Hardknott Dave sums up very well on his blog. He also points out why most SIBA members' interests are different from that of the Small Brewer Duty Reform Coalition (SBDRC), so I was quite surprised to see a proposal from Hogsback's Rupert Thompson backing their case get voted in. Turkey's voting for christmas I thought.
So far SIBA seem very opposed to the SBDRC and it will be interesting to see how things pan out at the national AGM. Now the practical benefits of SIBA membership are much diminished their main use seems to be for political lobbying.