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Good Beer Guide celebrates record number of British breweries: most for 70 years

Added: Wednesday, September 12th 2012

The 40th edition of CAMRA’s annual Good Beer Guide celebrates in style with the news that 158 new breweries have opened in the past 12 months, taking the total number of breweries operating in Britain to 1,009 – the biggest number for more than 70 years.

The figure of 1,009 is five times more breweries than 30 years ago, four times more than 20 years ago and more than twice as many as a decade ago.

Editor Roger Protz commented: “A double dip recession has done nothing to halt the incredible surge in the number of brewers coming on stream, making the small brewing sector one of the most remarkable British industry success stories of the past decade. The boom in new breweries has in many cases made the term ‘micro’ obsolete, with some brewers becoming remarkably large, installing new equipment or doubling production to keep up with demand.

“Beer drinkers in the present day are faced with an enormous variety and choice never seen before in this country. While historically there were more breweries in Britain before the 1930s, the distribution and communication networks of the modern day mean that real ale has never been so accessible to consumers or to pubs wanting to meet the demand for serving locally-produced beer. There is now one brewery for every 50 pubs in Britain.”

The Good Beer Guide contains 4,500 pubs plus a 200-page brewery section that lists every brewery in the country, their beers and in many cases professional tasting notes for the beers. The guide is compiled by CAMRA’s 143,000 members who carefully monitor pubs and beer quality in their areas and choose the best outlets for the guide.

The launch of the guide was held in the Buckingham Arms, Petty France, London SW1, one of just seven pubs that have appeared in all 40 editions. The other six are: New Inn, Kilmington, Devon; Queen’s Head, Newton, Cambridgeshire; Roscoe Head, Liverpool; Square & Compass, Worth Matravers, Dorset; Star, Netherton, Northumberland; and Star Tavern, Belgrave Mews, London SW1.

Several former editors of the guide were present at the launch. They included Jeff Evans, editor for several years in the 1990s, and John Hanscomb and Michael Hardman, the first editors in the 1970s. John edited the first commercial edition in 1974 – there had been loose-leaf, typed guides before that date – with Michael acting as production editor. He took over as editor the following year.

The 1974 guide listed just 100 breweries. They included the big London brewery Watneys, which readers were advised to “avoid like the plague” as a result of its infamous keg beer, Red Barrel. When the printers objected, this was changed to “avoid at all costs”. Michael Hardman, one of the four founding members of CAMRA, was awarded the MBE in 2009 for services to CAMRA and the brewing industry.

*The 2013 Good Beer Guide costs £15.99. To order online from CAMRA, follow the link on the home page of this website.

Good Beer Guide