Drinks: Why hops are hipper than ever
Britain's real- and craft-ale renaissance is responsible for a 70-year brewing high. It's a trend worth raising a glass to
Britain is awash with boutique beers and artisanal ales. The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) says there are now more than 1,000 breweries in the UK, the highest number for 70 years. A record 158 breweries have opened in the past year alone, defying the recession, an overall drop in sales and a crisis in the pub industry.
Camra's latest Good Beer Guide reveals there is one brewery to every 50 pubs, further evidence of a beer boom that has astonished even the campaign group. Many new breweries are small affairs launched by drinkers who, like their customers, reject the bland offerings and "lad" marketing spewed out by industry giants already losing their fizz.
Melissa Cole, a beer expert, blogger and the author of Let Me Tell You About Beer, says global concerns such as AB InBev (Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck's) and SABMiller (Peroni, Grolsch) are late to the bar in the race to catch up with changing tastes. "A younger generation is looking for heritage, provenance and flavoursome beer," she says. "They're real-ale drinkers who are more adventurous and affluent. Smart brewers are offering them something classy and interesting. Brewers don't understand it – it doesn't fit into their world of pasteurised, micro-filtrated mass production."
Cole singles out breweries such as Redemption, launched by a former trader in north London two years ago, Dark Star, based in West Sussex, as well as breweries such as Greenwich-based Meantime, and BrewDog from Aberdeen (it makes Punk IPA, below), who are no longer so "micro" thanks to a growing presence on supermarket shelves, as well as behind bars.
The new brewer succeeds where the old brewer fails, despite their million-pound marketing budgets (according to Camra, total beer sales have fallen by nearly 4 per cent in the past year). "They've created a new way of talking to the consumer," Cole explains. "They appeal to people who want to see themselves as different, part of a movement. There's also a more highbrow engagement. They sponsor literary festivals and host meet-the-brewer events."
Can the hip drinker, to be spotted in and, increasingly, beyond the bare-brick bars of our cities, rescue an industry in which a dozen pubs call time every week? "The numbers are there to say pubs who do interesting cask ales and craft keg beers are surviving better," Cole says. "Pubs need to pay attention."
Justin Bieber was one of the hardest hit
Life & Style blogs
Alexander McQueen at auction: What makes a really great piece of fashion?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
No female ejaculation, please, we’re British: a history of porn and censorship
Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'
Pornhub: Kim Kardashian's sex tape is the most-watched porn video of all-time
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
iJobs Food & Drink
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...