We’re making good progress on our book and, as we leave the nineteen-seventies behind us, we’ve been reading up about the early 1980s UK brewing boom. In interviews with brewers, one theme crops up time and time again, as in this report from 1983: ‘Raising their glasses to success yesterday were three redundant brewery workers and them man who helped them get back into business… Now THEY are the bosses of Britain’s newest brewery – Aston Manor in Birmingham.’ (Daily Express, 20 May.)
The theme we’re talking about is, of course, redundancy.
At the very start of 1980, Britain officially entered a fifteen month recession. That year saw a huge bump in the number of redundancies, from 187,000 in 1979 to 494,000. Here’s one of those lovely graphs showing redundancies in thousands during this period.
And here’s a graph showing new brewery openings in the same period.
The sources for that last chart are flaky, and we’ve got a lot more research to do into the circumstances behind the founding of the 100 or so new breweries that appeared between 1980 and 1983, but it’s probably not going too far to say that the sudden boom in breweries coincides exactly with the highest peak of redundancies, is it?
On a similar note, and also on our to do list, can it be a coincidence that the most recent boom in brewery numbers occured in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis?
(We are, by the way, slowly working our way through editions of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide to compile our database of brewery openings by year, which we’ll make available for others to use once its done.)