Britain’s breweries top 1,000 mark for first time
While the nation’s economy might still be in the doldrums, one section is booming in the West – brewing and drinking a good pint of real ale. For new figures out today show that the number of breweries in Britain has topped the 1,000-mark for the first time since the eve of World War Two, and the boom in beer is strong in the West Country. In the past 12 months an astonishing 19 new breweries opened in the south west, taking the total number of firms producing ale up to 125, according to the latest figures from the region’s Campaign for Real Ale. Across the country the number of breweries has reached 1,009 – the highest it has been for more than 70 years, with 158 opening up in the last year alone.
And as well as the established favourites, ale drinkers have been supping on no fewer than 94 new ales that were deemed good enough to make it into CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide for the south west.
The West’s branches of CAMRA are celebrating their success in turning the region’s drinkers back to proper beer – the 2013 edition of the annual Good Beer Guide published today is the 40th such ale-drinkers’ bible, and back in the early 1970s it looked like traditional ale was rapidly dying out to be replaced by fizzy lager and early forms of alcopops.
CAMRA now has 143,000 members, who can all contribute to the guide to inform the world of the best beers and the best pubs to go to drink the best range of ales.
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Ian Packham, the South West’s regional director for CAMRA, said he was delighted that 94 new pubs have been included in the national guide from the West region.
“The Good Beer Guide has always been about celebrating the best community pubs serving a high standard of real ale,” he said. “And in the guide’s 40th year, the competition to become one of the 4,500 pubs included has never been greater. To this day, the guide remains completely independent and driven by the hard work of CAMRA members surveying their local pubs to ensure readers enjoy the perfect pint of real ale.”
Of the 19 new breweries in the south west, five are in the Gloucestershire and Bristol area, three in Somerset and three in Wiltshire. Dorset, which falls into CAMRA’s ‘Wessex’ region, has another three new breweries.
And of the 94 new West pubs that have made it into the national guide, 16 are in Gloucestershire and Bristol, from the picturesque Bell Inn at Frampton-on-Severn, to the city centre buzz of The Gryphon in Bristol’s Colston Street. Another 18 are in Somerset, and include the Wookey Hole Inn, while 18 are in Wiltshire, including the Barge Inn at Honeystreet, which was saved by the community with lottery cash and featured in a TV documentary, and the Three Daggers in Edington, which was controversially bought and re-named by the new rich American ‘squire’ of the village. Dorset also has 19.