Key Points in the Birth of British Alterno-beer?

More on how British beer got from where it was to where it is with this attempt to iden­ti­fy some key points in the devel­op­ment of what we’re begin­ning to think of as an ‘alter­no-beer’ cul­ture. (That is, beer and pubs for awk­ward sods.)

We’re sure there are lots of points to add and that some of those we’ve come up with aren’t per­haps as sig­nif­i­cant as we imag­ine them to be: addi­tions and cor­rec­tions very wel­come, as always. Be gen­tle with us.

  • Does any­one else see a sto­ry of some­thing tak­ing hold out­side Lon­don and work­ing its way in?
  • For us, the birth of CAMRA and the devel­op­ment in the 1970s-90s of the ‘real ale Mec­ca’ – pubs with more than three real ales, often from micro­brew­eries – is the direct ances­tor of ‘craft beer’.
  • Or did the brown and dusty real ale pub mate with the chromed style bar to cre­ate ‘craft beer bars’?
  • So many of the ear­ly micro­brew­eries, brew­pubs and ‘craft beer’ bars did­n’t make it: they were before their time.
  • Please excuse us includ­ing the found­ing of a beer blog as an impor­tant event, but we think it was, alright? Back off.

And some gaps:

  • When did UK super­mar­kets start sell­ing US and Bel­gian beer?
  • Where was Britain’s first Bel­gian beer bar and when did it open? The Dove­tail opened in around 2000, we think. Any ear­li­er?

Updates 12/07/2012 in red. Updates 19/07/2012 in blue. Updates 24/08/2012 in green.

1963 Home­brew­ing legalised.
1963 Soci­ety for the Preser­va­tion of Beers from the Wood found­ed in Epsom.
First ‘good beer’/anti-Big Five cam­paign group.
1971 CAMRA found­ed. Presents an alter­na­tive to ‘monop­oly beers’.
1973 Dur­den Park Beer Cir­cle found­ed by Dr John Har­ri­son and oth­ers. Home­brew­ing cul­ture insti­tu­tion­alised.
1972 Sel­by Brew­ery, North York­shire, re-opens after eigh­teen year hia­tus. First British brew­ing com­pa­ny to open since at least World War II.
1973 West­bury Ales begins brew­ing at the Min­ers Arms in Prid­dy, Som­er­set. First new brew­ery.
1974 The Big Book of Brew­ing by Dave Line pub­lished. First real­ly use­ful home­brew­ing man­u­al.
1974 Litch­bor­ough Brew­ery found­ed in Northamp­ton­shire by Bill Urquhart. First new brew­ery sell­ing to the free trade.
1975 Pollard’s Brew­ery found­ed in Stock­port by David Pol­lard. Ear­ly micro­brew­ery.
1976 The Hole in the Wall, Water­loo, makes a name as a spe­cial­ist real ale pub. Ear­ly ‘beer exhi­bi­tion’ real ale spe­cial­ist pub.
1976 Old British Beers and How to Make Them pub­lished by the Dur­den Park Beer Cir­cle. Inspi­ra­tional recipes for his­toric beer styles.
1976 John and Bet­ty Black­well take over the Bar­ley Mow, St Albans, even­tu­al­ly sell­ing 18 real ales. Ear­ly (the first?) ‘beer exhi­bi­tion’, must-vis­it real ale pub.
1977 God­son’s brew­ery opens in Clap­ton. First new Lon­don brew­ery.
1977 The World Guide to Beer by Michael Jack­son pub­lished. Inspi­ra­tional beer Bible.
1978 Ring­wood Brew­ery found­ed by Peter Austin. Ear­ly micro­brew­ery.
1978 Brew­ing Beers Like Those You Buy by Dave Line pub­lished. Inspi­ra­tional recipes for cloning com­mer­cial beers.
1979 Firkin brew­pub chain found­ed by David Bruce. Ear­ly microbreweries/new British brew­pubs.
1979 Mar­ler’s Bar opened by Tim Mar­tin. First Wether­spoon’s pub.
1979 But­combe Brew­ery found­ed. Ear­ly micro­brew­ery.
1980 Two Brew­ers Off Licence, Pit­field Street, Lon­don opens. Makes avail­able Ger­man and Bel­gian beer.
1980 Franklin’s found­ed by Sean Franklin. Ear­ly micro­brew­ery; use of exot­ic hops.
1982 Pit­field Brew­ery found­ed. Revival of his­toric styles and recipes.
1987 Sum­mer Light­ning launched. Ear­ly (suc­cess­ful) ‘blonde’ British ale.
1989? West Coast Brew­ing found­ed by Bren­dan Dob­bin. ‘Hop-for­ward’, open­ly US-influ­enced British ale fea­tur­ing ‘new world’ hops.
1990 Alas­tair Hook sets up Pack­horse Brew­ing in Ash­ford, Kent. First ‘craft keg’ brew­ery.
1990 Kel­ham Island found­ed by Dave Wick­ett. Influ­en­tial in devel­op­ment of ‘craft beer’ cul­ture in the UK.
1990 Michael Jackson’s The Beer Hunter shown on Chan­nel 4. Bel­gian, Ger­man and US beer treat­ed with respect and admi­ra­tion.
1992 Bel­go opens in Lon­don. Bel­gian beer in a trendy bar/restaurant.
1993 Rooster’s found­ed by Sean Franklin. Yet more ‘hop-for­ward’ British ale.
1994 Dark Star Brew­ery found­ed by Rob Jones. Influ­en­tial in devel­op­ment of ‘craft beer’ cul­ture in the UK.
1994 Free­dom Brew­ery found­ed. First UK ‘craft lager’ pro­duc­er with wide dis­tri­b­u­tion.
1996 Mark Dor­ber takes over at the White Horse. First (?) ‘craft beer’ pub/bar in the UK.
1997 North Bar opens in Leeds. Ear­ly ‘craft beer’ bar.
1999 Mean­time Brew­ing found­ed by Alis­tair Hook. Ger­man-inspired UK lager and wheat beer pro­duc­tion; attempts to revive his­toric British styles.
2000 Zero Degrees brew­pub opens in Black­heath, Lon­don. Lager brew­ing; style-bar and beer geek des­ti­na­tion.
2001 Micro­bar opens in Lon­don. Ear­ly ‘craft beer’ bar.
2002 Pro­gres­sive Beer Duty intro­duced by the Gov­ern­ment. Makes opening/running small­er brew­eries more finan­cial­ly viable.
2004 Thorn­bridge found­ed. Ear­ly prod­uct of ‘noughties’ brew­ing explo­sion.
2006 Rake Bar opened. Cen­tre of ‘noughties’ ‘craft beer’ explo­sion.
2007 Stonch’s beer blog found­ed. First wide­ly-read UK beer blog.
2007 Brew­dog found­ed. Self-iden­ti­fied ‘craft’ brew­ery.
2008–2012 Lon­don brew­ing explo­sion. 7 brew­eries in Lon­don in 2007; 25 open or announced in 2011.
2009 Cask opens in Pim­li­co. Sign that Lon­don might sup­port more than one ‘craft beer’ pub.

Cor, blimey – we’ve used so many dis­tanc­ing quote marks in that, we might as well have put the whole thing in one big pair.