The research, undertaken for the new edition found that by the end of 2016 the number of breweries in the UK was at 1,544.
Of these, the majority were smaller producers, brewing less than 30,000 hectolitres (1,505 in total.)
However, just 60 new breweries launched during 2016, fewer than than the 100-plus openings recorded each year from 2010 to 2015.
There were also 58 breweries that closed in 2016.
Blip or contraction?
“After years of rapid expansion in numbers, the industry has been due for a correction,” said Brewery Manual publisher Larry Nelson.
“Stabilisation of brewery numbers in 2016 may be a blip, or it could be the start of a slow contraction in breweries. The early numbers for 2017 openings suggest that this may be the start of a slowdown in new brewery growth.
“That isn’t necessarily a bad thing for craft. When the American craft brewing industry underwent a contraction in numbers at the end of the 1990s demand for craft beer continued to rise year-on-year.
“The same dynamic is true for the UK: underlying demand from beer drinkers for new beers and new beer styles remains undiminished. In terms of brewing creativity we live in a golden age for the industry.”
'The most reliable data source'
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) welcomed the research undertaken by The Brewery Manual.
SIBA membership director Tony Jerome said: “Recognising that different authorities arrive at their estimates on different dates and assumptions, we applaud The Brewery Manual’s definition of a brewery having to sell beer commercially. This research project seems to us to be the most reliable data source available.
“From these figures, SIBA estimates that we represent 80% of the beer produced by independent breweries brewing under 200,000hl. This shows that SIBA is the true voice of Britain’s independent brewers.”
In a report released by SIBA yesterday (Tuesday 13 June), it was revealed that opening brewery taps can help fill the void left by community pub closures.