Is the UK nearing peak craft beer?

By Robert Mann contact

- Last updated on GMT

Growth slows: the total number of breweries in Britain increased by just eight last year
Growth slows: the total number of breweries in Britain increased by just eight last year
The UK's craft beer boom has significantly slowed in the past year, with only eight more breweries opening compared to 395 launched the year before.

A report carried out by financial firm UHY Hacker Young suggests that Britain’s craft beer boom is losing some serious steam.

The research uncovered that in 2016, 179 new breweries opened and the following year saw that figure rise to a considerable 395.

However, last year, the results saw a minuscule increase in brewery openings as just eight opened their doors.

As global drinks companies have muscled in on the craft brewing sector, buying up several of the most successful ‘artisan’ brands, the growth in the total number of breweries was the slowest in five years.

James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young, said the greater competition has made it significantly harder for start-ups to break into a crowded market.

“Sales growth is going to be harder to come by,” exclaimed Simmonds.

“Craft breweries need to ensure their business model is sustainable and profitable at an earlier stage and not just rely on the idea they’ll constantly be able to grow their way out of trouble.”

Simmonds added the companies like Budweiser Brewing Group, which rebranded from AB InBev in March, can no longer count on the traditional beer market for further expansion and instead should look for new, niche products with high growth potential to fuel their revenue and profits.

“With supermarkets offering limited shelf space and a slow rotation of brands, small craft brewers will need to innovate to break into the market,” concluded Simmonds.

Recent research by the Society of Independent Brewers found many drinkers were unaware popular craft beers were produced by large companies.

Some 43% of drinkers said they thought craft beer could only be made by small brewers, but there are no restrictions on use of the term.

Only 2% of the 2,000 people surveyed said beer made by multinationals merited the craft beer label.

But the number of British breweries remains high, with 2,274 last year compared to 1,352 just five years ago.

Related topics: Beer