Taxing time as future looks black for tipple

TIME could be called on a historic Yorkshire tipple – thanks to a tax raid by the Chancellor.

Mathers Black Beer, which is only brewed in West Yorkshire, has enjoyed excise relief for years because it was traditionally thought to have medicinal benefits, but a Treasury move to simplify the tax system has proposed ending that.

The drink – a liquory-substance often mixed with lemonade or milk – was popular in mining towns of the North and was even championed by Captain Cook who opened a brewery in New Zealand in 1769 to produce it for his men.

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But ending the tax relief could add £1 to the price of a bottle, and the company behind the drink claims that could force it out of business.

John Shinwell, managing director of Continental Wine and Food, said: “With Mathers Black Beer being a niche product, any reduction of sales arising as a result of the application of duty would make continued production uneconomically viable.

“Given its undeniable heritage and special place in history, we would be greatly saddened to see the brand lose its special status as this would be likely to see the product squeezed into extinction.”