This piece is 11,000 words long so you might want to consider downloading it to read on your tablet or smartphone via Pocket, Instapaper or another offline reader. It is also available as a free e-book in various formats via Smashwords.
- A London Particular – why everyone is talking about ‘murky’ beer
- I Can I Can’t? – the reinvention of the tinny
- Crowds & Community – crowdfunding: exploitation or fan service?
- On the Turn – signs of tension
- Vertical Integration – breweries with bars, bars with breweries
- Almost Too Wee – the rise of the micropub
- Sorry, Ronnie! – craft beer on the high street
- Breaking Away from the Peloton – United Craft Brewers
- Perestroika & Glasnost – CAMRA hints at change
- Poochie is One Outrageous Dude! – the big boys do craft beer
- Approaching Total Beer – an afterword
- Appendix – Where Are They Now?
We submitted the text of our book, Brew Britannia: the strange rebirth of British beer, in October 2013 and it was published in June the following year. Because the ‘strange rebirth’ it described was still underway, it wasn’t possible to provide a satisfying full stop to our attempt to tell the story of how British beer got from Big Six monopoly of the early 1970s to the vibrant scene we currently enjoy. The purpose of this update is to summarise developments in the past 18 months, to explain how (if at all) they fit into the ongoing narrative, and perhaps also to see if a punchline might be in sight.
In doing so, we have considered the ongoing creep of ‘craft beer’ into the mainstream – or is it the mainstream annexing and absorbing ‘craft’? We have also identified points of stress and increasing tension in an industry in which there is a decreasing amount of elbow room.
Like the last couple of chapters of Brew Britannia, this is commentary rather than history. It is in many ways a greater challenge to squeeze the truth out of people who are running active businesses than it was to get 40-year-old gossip out of CAMRA veterans of pensionable age. Nonetheless, as with the book, we have tried where possible to track stories back to their sources, to pin down dates on the timeline, and to avoid making assumptions – ‘Sez who?’ has been our constant challenge to each other. In a handful of instances, however, the only answer has been, ‘Sez us’.