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Craft beer trend still going strong as number of UK breweries rises

Authored by Phil Meekin

Phil Meekin

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Approximate read time: 3 minutes

A recent survey has shown that the UK’s taste for craft beer is still going strong as there has been another growth in the number of UK breweries. The total number of breweries in the country has risen by 8% over the past year to a total of 1700.

As a result of the increasing popularity of breweries, they have become more profitable and they are now more likely to be targeted for acquisition. Accountancy group UHY Hacker Young, who conducted the research, found that UK drinkers are willing to pay premium prices for a luxury product so breweries are becoming attractive investment opportunities.

Commenting on the survey in the Guardian, James Simmonds from UHY Hacker Young, said; “Craft beer is leading the way in the surging popularity of artisan products and has pushed aside other brands in high street bars. Many are now firmly established household names.”

Mr Simmonds also spoke about the increasing popularity of microbrewery pubs as more have opened up this year, with some even having their brewery within the pub space. Microbreweries’ are seen as a highly profitable businesses with the current trend for craft beer; so for entrepreneurs it sets them up in a niche position in the food and drinks market.

Microbreweries, alongside smaller craft beer brewers, have quickly become acquisition targets for larger breweries who can easily buy up these smaller brewers. They will keep the current infrastructure in place and make a profit on a market that is extremely popular and successful at the moment.

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The trend for craft beer has brought with it, not only exciting beer of a high standard, but it has also created many jobs and opportunities for the UK economy. A place where these benefits are being felt the most is Sheffield, proclaimed ‘the real ale capital of the world’ by the University of Sheffield. 

The Sheffield city region, which compromises South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, has 3.5 times as many breweries per capita as Greater London. The report by the University of Sheffield, which proclaims the city the real ale capital, found that there are 57 breweries in the region currently.

The craft beer trend started in the Sheffield City Region with Thornbridge opening their brewery back in 2005. Since then, an employee Martin Dickie went on to form BrewDog (one of the biggest craft brew pub chains and brewers in the UK) and 31 breweries have opened in the past five years in the area, five of which launched in 2016 alone.

This explosion of great beer spread all over the area has brought people into the city and its great drinking haunts. As a result, ‘beer tourism’ is worth more to Sheffield than the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible.

Sheffield is a great example of how the craft beer trend can benefit a city and its economy if handled correctly. Many would say the best thing about Sheffield’s beer explosion is that it has remained small and hidden with most brewers not exporting the beers outside of the area they are based.

What will happen to the craft beer market in the UK in the coming months, it is very difficult to predict. However, it seems right now the outlook is brilliant for craft and micro brewers up and down the country.

References and further reading

Craft beer – by Old Fountain via The Guardian

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