There’s been the odd brewery closure in the last year, most of which we’ve taken note of without regarding them as HARBINGERS OF DOOM. But maybe we’re being complacent.
Breweries come, and breweries go, but the overall number continues to climb. Now that we live in a country with 1,800 breweries it’s hilarious to read articles from the early 1980s in which people fret about how crowded the microbrewery market was becoming with something like 35 in operation UK-wide.
If a brewery closes every now and then, even if it’s a tragedy for those involved, it’s part of the healthy operation of the market.
But what if you do that thing that people hate and categorise breweries: is the ‘craft’ end of the market (def 2.) in more trouble than the brewing sector as a whole?
We ask because this Tweet from Craig Heap grabbed our attention:
2016 has been a rough year for Welsh beer. Celt, Waen and Otley all closing their doors or going cuckoo.
— Craig Heap (@CraigHeap) November 23, 2016
We’d missed the news about Otley. If you’d asked us to name Welsh craft breweries without reference to other sources we’d probably have mentioned the three in that Tweet plus Tiny Rebel (still going strong), which makes this seem rather concerning.
If we could somehow come up with a list of the UK’s Most Definitely Craft Breweries, how many would there be? And what would the attrition rate look like compared to breweries overall? We’ve a sudden creeping feeling that, with closures at one end and takeovers at the other, it might be noticeably worse.
Or maybe we’re just not paying attention to all the old-school microbreweries that are also folding, quietly, in market towns and villages where the neon don’t shine?