Nearly 200 microbreweries opened for business in the last year, and the trend certainly isn’t slowing.
The UK now supports over 1,140 individual breweries, a high for more than 70 years!
The rise in popularity of Craft Beers has not just seen our supermarkets selling a growing number of Craft Beers. An increasing number of pubs and trendy bars are now offering craft beers in bottles as well and on draught. Camra's Good Beer Guide for 2014 lists 5200 UK-brewed beers, and more than 4500 pubs that serve ‘real ales’.
Research suggests that, ironically, the poor economy is behind at least part of the push towards premium beer. Younger people are discovering that while they can’t afford to go to the pub and drink as often, when they do, they prefer to drink something different and better, and are willing to pay a slightly higher price for it. On that basis, the novelty and individuality of smaller breweries really works to good effect.
Amidst all the closing pubs, many have gone from strength to strength. They credit a move away from offering a small number of big name lagers at the lowest supportable price to a shifting menu of local and craft brews that attract drinkers willing to have one or two unique brews rather than three or four of the same old same old.
And then you have the rise of the beer festivals. Once these were poorly attended events haunted by the type of people who weren’t cool enough to be hipsters. Now they sell out in advance and suffer ticket scalping and gate crashing. Rather than a crowd of bearded ‘older gents’ chatting around the same 4 or 5 brewer’s stands, you see a few new purveyors every time, and can always find something new and interesting. Most of it is quite good, and even the too-weird stuff is interesting.
So, what does this mean for the consumer? With any luck it will mean the decline of the boring, hum-drum mass-produced rice beers, and the continued rise of hand-crafted, flavourful and strong drops.