Britain’s pubs may be struggling, but it’s a different story for Britain’s beer producers. Some 187 new breweries opened in the last year, pushing up the total number of breweries in the UK to almost 1,500.
The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said breweries are seeing a revival across the UK, including a beer brewing pizzeria, the Crate Brewery in London, and a transformed Dairy Farm, the Malt Brewery, in Buckinghamshire.
The Good Beer Guide 2014 said that the number of breweries in London has doubled in the last year, after 23 new starters opened in the capital. Another area which has seen a boom in breweries is West Yorkshire, with eight new companies taking the county’s total to 57 - the highest of any region in the UK. The boom in breweries, who sell to larger breweries, pubs and supermarkets, means there are now 5,200 British beers on offer.
Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick, East London. Photo: Crate Brewery
Breweries’ success contrasts to the fortunes of Britain’s pub industry. Camra estimates that 26 pubs are closing each week in the UK, as they fight to compete with cut-price alcohol in supermarkets.
Landlords are also struggling with higher rents and large pub companies selling beer to their tenants at above-market prices. Just over 50,000 locals are left, the lowest in more than a century, down from almost 68,000 30 years ago. It seems that although Britons' thirst for beer hasn't dried up, pubs aren't seeing the benefits.
After pressure from troubled pub landlords, the government announced in the March budget that the price of a pint would be cut by a penny. It overturned chancellor George Osborne’s previous commitment to annually increase beer duty by two percentage points above inflation until 2015.