The British beer revolution is rolling on with the number of breweries growing by 10%-plus for a third consecutive year and seven in 10 pubs now serving real ale.
The statistics — released today to mark the launch of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2016 — show that 204 new breweries have opened in the past 12 months. This takes the total to 1,424, the highest since the 1930s.
Alongside this, figures from the campaign’s WhatPub database show that 70% of pubs now sell real ale, compared to just a third when the guide was first published back in 1975, and up seven percentage points in little more than a decade.
The Campaign for Real Ale said this growth is due, in part, to the growth of micropubs, expected to number 200 by the end of the year. “They have carved out a
new relationship between drinkers, publicans and brewers,” it said.
Good Beer Guide editor and Publican’s Morning Advertiser beer writer Roger Protz said: “The Great British beer revolution rolls on and appears to be unstoppable. More and more new breweries have been launched to keep up with the demand for full-bodied, full-flavoured beers. Britain now has more breweries per head than any other country and the range of beers on offer is the best in the world, ranging from the palest golden ale to the darkest, pitch-black stout.”
The explosion of new breweries means there are now more than 11,000 different real ales on offer to pubgoers as brewers expand their repertoire and experiment with new styles.
Real ale continues to thrive — last year’s Cask Report said it outperformed all on-trade beer sales by 4.5% — with the guide claiming one in six pints of beer sold in a pub is now cask ale, with customers drinking 634 million pints a year.
While the brewing bug has struck across the UK, it is London leading the way and reclaiming its place at the centre of British brewing. There are now 74 breweries operating in the capital compared to 54 a year ago. Other cities are close behind, with Manchester boasting 19 new breweries.
The rapid growth of new breweries has led some mid-sized and larger brewers to call for an urgent review of Progressive Beer Duty (PBD), introduced in 2002 and which offers
generous tax breaks for smaller operations.
One said: “No one wants to see a reduction in choice and I’m not suggesting abolishing PBD but it does need to be realigned.
“If something isn’t done, you will continue to see big names in the brewing sector shrink and move away from their national business. They will cease supporting the industry in the way they do at the moment.”
CAMRA said it is canvassing opinions of its members and other stakeholders across the industry “to make sure we fully understand the implications and potential consequences of all the options”.