Craft ale revolution: The UK now has the most breweries since the 1930s

Emma Haslett
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Popularity Of Craft Beers Continues To Grow
Cheers, hipsters: Craft ale is still booming in the UK. (Source: Getty)

The number of breweries in the UK jumped almost 20 per cent last year, according to a new study, putting the total at its highest since the 1930s.

The research, by UHY Hacker Young, found there were 1,994 breweries in the UK at the end of 2016, up 18 per cent from the 1,692 recorded at the end of 2015.

In the past five years, that figure has jumped 64 per cent, from 1,218 in 2012.

Not surprisingly, the researchers suggested the craze for craft ale has boosted the number of microbreweries, which have in turn benefited from a tax break allowing brewers producing less than 5,000 hectolitres to pay 50 per cent less beer duty than their larger rivals.

And although craft brewers who sell out to larger brands tend to come in for criticism, the study suggested acquisitions such as Carlsberg's buyout of London Fields Brewery earlier this year are good for the industry because they encourage investment into other microbreweries.

"In addition, other private equity funds are increasingly looking to capitalise on the growing success of breweries," the research added.

"For example, L Catterton, a private equity fund backed by [Louis Vuitton owner] LVMH, recently invested in the Scottish craft brewer Innis & Gunn."

“The craft beer boom has reversed around 70 years of consolidation in the brewing industry," added James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young.

"There is plenty of growth still to come. However, the majors are beginning to make a fightback by acquiring craft brewers and launching their own artisan style brands.

“The craft brewers can’t afford to rest on their laurels. They will need to work hard to get their product into that limited shelf space and bar space.”

Read more: New beer brand registrations double in a decade as craft brewing booms

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