Brewery numbers rise after 2020 drop

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Figures found: 2020 saw the number of breweries fall by to 1,816 - down on 2019 but this rose for 2021 to 1,902 (image: Getty/Stefano Gilera)
Figures found: 2020 saw the number of breweries fall by to 1,816 - down on 2019 but this rose for 2021 to 1,902 (image: Getty/Stefano Gilera)

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The number of total independent breweries has increase to 1,902 in 2021 from 1,816 in 2020, new figures have found.

The 49th​ edition of The Good Beer​ Guide, which is released today (Friday 12 November) ​stated this is the highest number of breweries recorded in the publication since it began in 1974 and a national rise after recording the first decline in numbers since 2008 in the previous edition in data captured up to the end of September 2021.

However, while 138 breweries have opened this year and are newly listed in the guide, 75 closed with some regions reporting higher or equal numbers of closures compared to new breweries.

This followed figures from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), which found the total number of breweries in the UK fell for the first time in more than a decade in 2020​.

Sector resilience

Numbers of breweries over the years: 

1974 – 171

1983 – 209

1993 – 254

1997 – 389

1998 – 399

1999 – 435

2000 – 429

2001 – 448

2002 – 444

2003 – 465

2008 – 668

2009 – 711

2010 – 840

2011 – 1,009

2012 – 1,147

2013 – 1,285

2015 – 1,424

2016 – 1,540

2017 – 1,684

2018 – 1,755

2019 – 1,823

2020 – 1,816

2021 – 1,902

The guide, which is produced by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), surveyed 4,500 pubs across the UK and CAMRA has called on the Government to increase support for the pub and brewing sector, in a bid to help mitigate the damage from extended closures.

CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona said: “After the struggles of the past 18 months for the industry, it is great The​ Good Beer Guide ​figures are showing the resilience of pubs and brewers in the face of strife – an increase in brewery numbers after they dipped last year for the first time, as well as over 500 new pub entries.

“This is great to see, especially coupled with the news from the Government’s latest Budget, including the announcement of a new, lower rate of duty for draught beer and cider.  

“However, the industry is still vulnerable in the aftermath of Covid-19 lockdowns. Breweries still face issues around costs of goods, lack of business rate relief and silence from the Government on Small Brewers’ Relief reform. We are calling on the Government to make sure the new draught duty rate applies to containers 20L and up so that all our small and independent brewers can benefit.” 

Real beer

The foreword for this year’s edition of the guide was written by singer and pub owner James Blunt, who highlighted the importance of pubs to communities and encouraged Brits to support their locals.

He wrote: “While, in recent years, there might have been a trend for people to drink cheap supermarket beer at home, those people have been locked away for the best part of a year, and now those people want out.

“They can taste real beer from the tap and food cooked by a pro, and they can meet legally and joyfully.”

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