Our post on under- and over-exposed UK breweries prompted a comment from Tandleman suggesting London breweries get unfair attention.
In subsequent comments and on Twitter, others enthusiastically agreed. Is there something in what he says?
There are now almost 80 breweries in London (about 6 per cent of the total number in the UK) but, when we challenged ourselves, we could name only 13 off the top of our heads. Bearing in mind that, compared to most people, we pay pretty close attention, that suggests there are a good number of London breweries about which no-one is talking very much at all.
Then there’s this list of the breweries our readers think are ‘the usual suspects’:
Adnams (Suffolk) | Batham’s (West Midlands) | Beavertown (London) | BrewDog (Aberdeenshire) | Brodie’s (London) | Buxton (Derbyshire) | Camden (London) | The Kernel (London) | Magic Rock (West Yorkshire) | Red Willow (Cheshire) | Siren (Berkshire) | Thornbridge (Derbyshire) | Wild Beer Co (Somerset)
That’s thirteen breweries of which four are London-based – clearly more than its fair share. (Though some were suggested by people who believe London-centricity is an issue so that’s a bit circular.)
Here are a few more lists that might also be helpful:
- Ratebeer world top 100 – 6 in the UK, 2 in London. (CORRECTED)
- Beer O’Clock Show UK best beer poll – 6 breweries, 4 in London.
- Telegraph: ‘Britain’s Best Beers’ (14/08/2014) – 13 breweries, 2 in London.
- CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain winners 2014 – 22 breweries, 1 London.
Our gut feeling on digesting all of that is that London breweries probably are slightly over-represented, but not hugely.
London has a population of 8.5 million (city) or 9.8m (greater urban area) meaning that something like 14 per cent of everyone in the entire UK lives in London.
For comparison, Manchester has 500,000/2.5m (3.9 per cent) and Birmingham 1m/2.4m (3.8 per cent).
There are also reckoned to be ‘over twice as many 25 to 29 year olds in Inner London than in the rest of England’ and the median age of a Londoner in 2012 was 34 compared with 39.7 for the rest of the UK.
In other words, the kind of people who drink ‘craft beer’ and write blogs (can anyone find a better source than this?) are more likely to live in London, and they are, of course, going to write about the beers to which they have access.
The Mainstream is OK
Though this article in the Independent last week was a bit of a mis-fire (‘London is still the craft beer capital’) it seems to us that professional journalists and their editors go out of their way to avoid being London-centric.
For example, Will Hawkes, who lives in London, has recommended 37 beers in the Independent in the last year, 8 of them from London.
Where there is a gap in regional coverage is, unfortunately, the blogoshire.
A few years ago, beer blogging was all but dominated by Leeds. Now, Leigh Linley has taken a job in the industry and temporarily put his blog on hiatus; Zak Avery posts infrequently (though it’s always good when he does); while others have moved to other parts of the country, had children, or otherwise run out of steam.
And our favourite Bristol beer blog hasn’t posted since 2013.
In conclusion, if writing about beer is London-centric, and it might be a bit, it’s partly because London is bothering to write about beer.
This was meant to be a quick before-breakfast post and we haven’t had much time to double-check facts and figures. By all means question or correct us in the comments below.