Monday 28 January 2019 12:46 am

Hundreds of new UK breweries open as craft beer boom continues

Hundreds of new craft breweries opened in the last year as boozers defied Brexit fears to drive the growth in independent beer brands.

A total of 430 new craft breweries opened in the year to the end of December 2017 as the market share of niche beers continues to rise, according to UHY Hacker Young.

Read more: Craft beer brand Brewdog is trying to mature after a tough year of marketing disasters

The figures are a slight decrease from 2016, which saw a record 520 new brewery openings, reflecting fears independent brewers have been hit by rising ingredients costs caused by a slump in the pound.

But the openings show the passion for trendy pints is continuing, with increased spending power among millennials believed to be a key driver of growth in the market.

Thirsty Brits knocked back 506m pints of craft beer in 2017, representing roughly 6.5 per cent of the total UK market, according to the Society of Independent Brewers.

But UHY Hacker Young warned funding for new breweries remains difficult, with many firms forced to issue shares through crowdfunding in order to expand. Issuing too many shares to fund expansion could dilute the stake of the original founders, the accountancy firm warned.

Last year fashionable Scottish firm Brewdog raised £23m in its fifth crowdfunding round, while London-based Five Points and Hop Stuff have also used crowdfunding to raise money in recent months.

James Simmonds, UHY Hacker Young partner, said: “Breweries face high fixed costs and startups tend to burn through cash quickly. That risks giving away too much of their equity before they can start using lower cost bank loans.

“Alternatives like invoice finance or leasing should be considered – these can offer a much more stable form of finance than a bank loan that can be called in at short notice.”

Read more: Fuller's calls time on brewing business as Asahi agrees £250m deal

The figures come after brewing stalwart Fuller’s completed a surprise sale of its beer, cider, soft drinks and distribution business last week.

The Chiswick-based firm said it was selling its business, including the iconic London Pride brand, to Japanese producer Asahi for £250m.

A number of major craft breweries, including Camden Town Brewery and Meantime, have been snapped up in multi-million-pound deals in recent years.