Gauging the Mood of the British Beer Scene

Twitter polls are ‘garbage’ as we were repeatedly reminded throughout the US election but, still, this might tell us something:

Twitter poll screengrab (link above).

Despite the per­vad­ing sense of gloom, per­haps the result of ennui on the part of hyper-vocal, deep-insid­ers who spend too much time think­ing about all this stuff, the major­i­ty of the 502 respon­dents don’t seem to think a dis­as­ter is loom­ing.

Now, it is worth con­sid­er­ing the fol­low­ing points:

  1. Our fol­low­ers are into beer which might trans­late into being blind­ly pos­i­tive about its for­tunes. Although, equal­ly, it prob­a­bly means they’re more aware of the bad news too.
  2. Some peo­ple might think a shake-out which sees, say, 10 per cent of brew­eries cease trad­ing is good news. Equal­ly, some peo­ple might feel pes­simistic pre­cise­ly because they think brew­ery num­bers are going to con­tin­ue increas­ing.
  3. The 8 per cent who think it’s about to go pear-shaped nonethe­less rep­re­sent a good old chunk. Inside infor­ma­tion, or just mis­er­able dev­ils? We wish we’d done this last year, and will def­i­nite­ly do it next year, to mon­i­tor the change.
  4. Some of the rea­sons peo­ple gave for being anx­ious are inter­est­ing and, again, sub­jec­tive: by far the most com­mon con­cern is that Amer­i­can-influ­enced styles are push­ing out tra­di­tion­al British ones; oth­ers were con­cerned about pubs which remain in trou­ble despite the brew­ery boom.
  5. His­to­ri­an David Turn­er doesn’t think we’ll get a shake-out and instead pre­dicts a plateau.

For our part, that poll and the rest of this week’s dis­cus­sion is enough for now to con­firm our gut feel­ing that, though 2017 is going to be bumpi­er than 2016, it’s not going to see some kind of beer­poca­lypse.

Brew­eries and bars will close, cer­tain­ly, and we’ll keep log­ging those events, but we also know that plen­ty of new ones are on the way.

There might be some struc­tur­al changes – per­haps fur­ther polar­is­ing of the mar­ket, for exam­ple – but that won’t look like a col­lapse.

We’d cer­tain­ly be some­what sur­prised if the launch of the Good Beer Guide in the autumn isn’t accom­pa­nied by news of a fur­ther rise in the over­all num­ber of brew­eries, for bet­ter or worse.

6 thoughts on “Gauging the Mood of the British Beer Scene”

  1. What is the point of brew­ery num­bers increas­ing when they’re just fight­ing over less and less bar space?

    Its not like we’re short of inno­va­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty in our brew­ing indus­try. What we des­per­ate­ly need is inno­va­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty in our pub sec­tor.

    Ques­tion for dis­cus­sion: does the fall in pub num­bers and the rise in brew­eries reflect a change in the nature of the more com­mon retire­ment dream? 20 years ago, peo­ple used to want to run their own pub, now they want to run their own brew­ery.

  2. I would love to see a poll of British brewers/brewery own­ers. They’re the ones who will have the best sense.

  3. No won­der the qual­i­ty and con­sis­ten­cy of craft beer is so poor when the only cre­den­tials the aver­age per­son who sets up a brew­ery is either that they ‘like beer’ or think it’s fash­ion­able

    If you com­pared it to some­one who fan­cied set­ting up on their own as an elec­tri­cian with no qual­i­fi­ca­tions or they liked fairy lights. I cer­tain­ly wouldn’t have them wiring up my house.

  4. Data… I like data… data is lit­tered with flaws and caveats of course, but here’s some rough­ly processed data regard­ing the num­ber of Com­pa­nies House reg­is­tered busi­ness­es: Brew­ery Data – Com­pa­nies House

    The graph illus­trates the “boom” in new brew­eries over the last decade (bear­ing in mind it is miss­ing now-shut-down and sole trad­er, etc, brew­eries)… I’m not sure of the 2016 data accu­ra­cy, but per­haps it rep­re­sents a cool­ing off of enthu­si­asm. [Is there lag in incor­po­ra­tion data? There are incor­po­ra­tion dates shown all the way up to end of Decem­ber so I sus­pect not.]

    This start­ed out as a com­ment here, but it got a bit too involved…

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