beer business

Did Hahn just make an excise-free beer?


Hahn Ultra 6pk Wrap Cluster 3D

If I’m reading this correctly, Hahn has just made an excise-free beer.

I’m talking about their new super-duper light beer – Hahn Ultra.

That comes in at a ‘‘hold the bottle down, it’s so light it might blow away’’ alcohol percentage of just 0.9 per cent. Now, allow me to quote from the Australian Taxation Office website – ‘‘for beer, the first 1.15 per cent of alcohol content is free of excise duty’’.

To me that means Hahn does not pay a cent in excise tax for Ultra. Not one single measly penny.

If you look the excise rates for higher-strength beers you can get gauge on just how much this saves Hahn. There are three categories of excise – beers under 3 per cent, between 3 and 3.5 per cent and over 3.5 per cent.

Lets just take that last group – because it’s the rate a standard 5 per cent beer would be charged.
Okay, I tried to do the maths here on what the excise on a six-pack of 5 per cent beer did my head in. So instead, I’ll just point out the excise rate is $47.85 per litre of alcohol.

Which would seem to me to add up when you start looking at the volume Hahn’s parent company Lion can pump out.

So while this beer is targeted at a more health-conscious beer-drinking demographic (which definitely exists) I can’t help but think the idea of not paying any excise to the man would have been a big appeal in making this beer.

So if this beer starts to sell well, Hahn could well end up laughing all the way to the bank.

Now I’m not dissing Hahn at all for this move – kudos to them I say for working out a loophole in the excise laws that (could) allow them to make money. In fact, I reckon there may be a few craft breweries thinking ‘‘hey, I wonder if we could make a 1 per cent beer. Put a lot of hops and some weird ingredient in it, create a big of buzz. Might make us some money’’.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see if some other sub 1.15 per cent beers start popping up in the not-too-distant future.

That is, as long as I’m reading this excise tax stuff right.

BTW, I didn’t even touch on the other possible money-saver from a low-alcohol beer. My brewing knowledge says to make a light beer you either use less fermentables or make a normal beer and water it down. Either way, that would mean Hahn must be saving money in the making of the beer as well – either through purchasing less malt or gaining a greater volume of product after watering it down.
More money saved.

UPDATE 14/3 9.57am: Seems there are a few more ways you can make low-alcohol beer. And they don’t necessarily mean Hahn saves money in ingredients.

3 replies »

  1. Health isn’t exactly at the top of my list when I choose my beers 😉 But I am a little curious to try a sip. Good on them for finding a loophole in the system! Let’s see if it pays off…

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