We think we’ve identified one of the earliest examples of ‘local’ being used as marketing schtick for a post-CAMRA ‘real ale revolution’ beer.
In 1980, a Victorian brewery building at Tisbury in Wiltshire was taken over by a civil servant, Alistair Wallace, and an ‘executive’, Christopher Baker. With a former Whitbread brewer, John Wilmot, who also had connections with Godson’s in East London (aka Godson, Freeman & Wilmot), they started turning out a beer aimed at the local market. They called it Local Bitter.
Their marketing, handled by a local agency, emphasised that the ingredients were local (‘except the hops’), and that is was brewed to local tastes, to be drunk in local pubs, at a price local people could afford — they undercut the bigger brewers by between three to five pence a pint.
The problem with making a specific location your ‘unique selling point’, however, is the lack of flexibility that comes with it. Like a lot of breweries founded c.1980, they struggled for various reasons, and, for a time, Local Bitter had to be brewed about a hundred miles away at Godson’s, in Bow. The name, during that period, must have seemed a little unfortunate.
Tisbury ceased operations in 1985.
Sources: ‘The local brew adds strength to the village’, Trevor Bailey, The Guardian, 11 September 1981, p.16; Twenty Five Years of New British Breweries, Ian Mackey, 1998.