UK brewers drink to bumper year

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Real ale has almost doubled its market share over the past decade, CAMRA claims
Real ale has almost doubled its market share over the past decade, CAMRA claims

Related tags Brewing Beer

The UK saw 170 breweries spring up in the past 12 months, a figure driven by small independent brewers, according to the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA’s) Good Beer Guide 2015.

The increase takes the total number of UK breweries to 1,285 and constituted 10% growth for the past two years running, the organisation said. As a result, the UK now has more breweries per head than any other country in the world.

Nearly all the new breweries were producing cask-conditioned real ales as their core products, CAMRA said.

‘Only success story’

“Real ale is the only success story in a declining beer market,” ​said Roger Protz, editor of the Good Beer Guide 2015, which was published on September 10.

New breweries, making handcrafted beers, continue to come on stream while many long-standing regional and family breweries are expanding with new equipment and new brands. Real ale has almost doubled its market share over the past decade.”

New brewers were often adventurous with the beers they brewed, experimenting with herbs, spices, fruit and chocolate to add flavour, said Protz.

A growing number were ageing beer in oak casks bought from whisky, wine and rum producers to give new depths of flavour to their products, he added.

‘Excellent health’

Mike Benner, md of the Society of Independent Brewers, said: “This latest Good Beer Guide portrays a British brewing industry in excellent health.

“As we welcome this growing wave of new brewers, we also thank the 20 pioneering microbrewers who in 1980 founded the Society of Independent Brewers and so set in motion the brewing revolution which today provides British drinkers with the most diverse, exciting and innovative selection of beers enjoyed anywhere in the world.”

London alone last year saw brewery numbers double and has continued to support the growth with seven new start-ups this year.

Young drinkers

Further research by CAMRA suggests young drinkers could be one of the reasons behind the growth. More than a third of those aged 18–24 reported having tried real ale and 87% said they would drink it again.

In addition, CAMRA’s analysis indicates 65% of 18–24 year-olds tried real ale for the first time within the last three years, compared to 11% across all ages.

Almost three in 10 real ale drinkers (28%) were aged between 18 and 34, according to the data.

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