Manchester Union Brewery

Client: Manchester Union Brewery

Sector: Food & Drink

Geographic location: Ardwick, Manchester

Qualifying R&D expenditure identified: £39,716

This included costs for:

  • Staff salaries
  • Consumables
  • Sub-contractors

Tax benefit claimed: £13,244

The Company

The single decoction brewing technique is commonly used across Europe to create the distinct taste of continental lagers. Manchester Union Brewery, launched in 2018, decided to set up a brewhouse that could achieve the same outcomes in the North West and would, in turn, become one of the only companies in the UK to use this specific method of brewing.

The technique involves moving a proportion of the brewing mash from tank to tank, using powerful pumps, and heating that proportion of the mash to boiling point; a much higher temperature than is usual in traditional UK beer making. A typical mash temperature, in UK brewing, would be in a range 63 to 69 degrees centigrade. The additional heat, principally, creates melanoidin that gives the beer a bolder, silkier mouthfeel than normal lagers using lower mash temperatures.

Manchester Union Brewery is now conducting research with a Scottish university to grant brewing students access to data from the unusual mashing technique and help develop a future decoction process for the brewery. This research exposes students to this little understood mashing technique and allows them to characterise the decoction technique for a deeper understanding than ever before. This research will not only benefit the university and its students, but also the brewing community and Manchester Union Brewery.


The Solution

 As one of only a handful of brewers using the decoction mashing technique, Manchester Union Brewery has researched and developed its own brewing technique from scratch, and much of its processes qualify for R&D tax relief.

An existing Champion client, the team enquired about the R&D process and was supported in making an application. Three years’ worth of claims have now been achieved – between 2018 and 2020 – resulting in a tax refund of more than £13,000 for the brewery.

It intends to use the capital to continue developing its lager products, fine tuning their taste, colour, strength and body to create the perfect Manchester brew.

We didn’t have any experience of claiming R&D tax relief until Champion, and with their existing knowledge of how breweries work, they suggested it to us. The process was extremely simple; we provided the team with details of how we work over the course of a year; Champion drafted our application for us, we reviewed it and submitted it.

 “As they’re so knowledgeable about brewing and the drinks manufacturing industry, there was no need to explain our methods of working in any great depth – they already understood and knew how to pull all the right information together on our behalf. Champion made this whole experience really easy for us, and now we have extra capital available to put towards the day-to-day running of our business.”

Comments from Ian Johnson, head brewer, at Manchester Union Brewery