26/02/14 – The day British brewing hits critical mass?

Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Editorial | 3 Comments


So, the British brewing industry is in pretty good shape. Red tape is being reeled in, some drinkers are willing to spend more than ever, others are keen just to try new things. One major result of this (and the on-trend nature of beer in general), is the continuing escalation in the number of British breweries. Back in September 2012 the blinking, beer-shaped CAMRA totaliser finally blipped through to the 1,000 mark, and is continuing to rise. I can only imagine the furious glances and banks of whirring servers at Quaffale headquarters, as they try to keep up listing everyone.*

*For the record, by my calculations, we now have 77 production breweries in Scotland, with a further five who contract elsewhere. There are at least 8 more scheduled to open this year

Plenty of writers here have questioned whether there are too many breweries, and whether the bubble – ‘craft’ or no – will burst at some point, leading to closures, acquisitions and mergers. I think it will; it’s inevitable. It’s happened before, so there’s no reason not to assume it won’t happen again. When it does, and we’re all sitting in neon-lit space bars, inhaling clouds of gaseous Venusian Mild, will we look back and be able to spot the apex? The moment where brewing hit critical mass and the beginning of the end, er, began? I think someone will kick their serving droid (Keg2D2) and, with a snap of the tentacles, realise when it was; 6:30pm on Wednesday 26th February, 2014, London, United Federation of Europe.

On that particular date, for those lucky enough to live in the other capital and being in possession of £39, they can attend the following event:-

Subtitled ‘If you’d like to bring your own artisan ale to wider attention, this course will show you how’, is this the game-changing moment? Will we see a raft of Quaffing Gravy’s following this? Now that one can simply turn up at Guardian HQ, hop out of the Prius, and be shown to the nearest ergonomic chair to learn all they need to know – and still get change from forty pounds – are the beery floodgates about to open? Will Pale Ale become the new BBB? Ubiquitous and middling, like all those cautious bitters ten/fifteen years ago? So many funky, faux-cool branding launches. The future begins on the 26th…

For the record, the course actually looks great value – particularly with Logan from Beavertown and Japser from Camden doing the teaching (I wonder how many questions Jasper will get along the lines of ‘what should I name my beer, then?’). For those interested, tickets are still available! Also, for those currently operating, check back on Monday for the thirteen British breweries to watch in 2014….


  1. neil, eatingisntcheating.co.uk
    January 9, 2014

    Good article,

    btw the number of breweries as of September 2013 was 1147 – with 87 new breweries opening between 2012 and 2013.

    Press release here if you need it: http://www.camra.org.uk/article.php?group_id=11205

  2. beersiveknown
    January 9, 2014

    according to ratebeer, Scotland has 89 active brewers


    What needs updating?

  3. Richard
    January 9, 2014

    I’ll drop you an email

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