Tim Hampson's Beer Blog

The quest for the perfect beer

Archive for July 2013

Well someone must be hurting

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UK beer sales fell by 4.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2013, according to the British Beer & Pub Association’s quarterly Beer Barometer, so why are so many brewers recording record sales?

Losses in the on-trade (pubs, bars and restaurants) were higher at 5.8 per cent. Off-trade sales also fell, but the 3.6 per cent fall was the lowest second quarter fall since 2005.

As the sun is traditionally the brewer’s best salesman the current good weather will be good news. But the industry’s figures don’t reflect the spring in the steps of many brewers as reflected in some of the stories I have written for CAMRA’s What’s Brewing this month.

They show that for some brewers their fermenters are not just half full but overflowing, it makes me want to know whose are half empty.

The Hog’s Back Brewery has recorded a 30 per cent growth in sales in the first months of the year and now its investing in new equipment.

New fermentation and conditioning vessels have been ordered for the brewery, which is based in Tongham, Surrey.

The Yorkshire brewer Ilkley has invested in a new cask filling machine and will soon be increasing its brewing capacity by an additional 33 per cent to 160 brewers’ barrels or 46,000 pints a week.

Later this summer, the brewery will also acquire a new 40 barrel fermenter which will boost real ale production even further.

Saltaire Brewery is expanding its team with four new recruits and increasing brewing capacity by 30 per cent to meet the growing demand for its hand crafted ales in the North of England, and increasingly beyond its heartland of West Yorkshire.

Tony Gartland, Managing Director, sees this next stage in the development of the brewery as a step change in its ambition to be one of the leading breweries in the North of England.

“Growth in the premium ale sector is strong and we’ve grown ahead of the market. In the last couple of years our bottled beer sales have doubled. Capacity is a challenge, so as well as growing our team, we’ve invested £100,000 in our production infrastructure which will enable us to increase our capacity by 30 per cent by the end of this year.”

Acorn Brewery has celebrated its 10th birthday with the announcements of a £70,000 investment in new equipment

In the past three months Acorn sales grown by 16 per cent over the same period in 2012 and the brewer is now commissioning a state-of-the-art cask- washing equipment, extra conditioning tanks and a keg filler.

So who is hurting Carlsberg, Heineken Molson Coors, AB-InBev, SABMiller, the companies behind the generic Let There Be Beer Campaign which is currently on TV? I don’t know, but according to the Grocer magazine Britain’s biggest alcohol brands are falling faster than the total drinks market.

The full Beer Barometer excel tables can be downloaded from the BBPA www.beerandpub.com

Written by timhampson

July 27, 2013 at 11:51 am

Beer in art and literature – number 1

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Beer Matters it really does. And it is for this reason that so many writers and artists use beer and pubs in their creations. This is the first in what will be an occasional series of some of my favourite mentions of beer by some of the world’s greatest creators.

 Dylan Thomas published a collection of short stories in 1940 called Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog.

In one of the stories Old Garbo, not only can his surreal humour is seen to be developing but so is his appreciation of beer with “its live, white lather, its brass-bright depths.”

The time is 1931 and the story is set in The Three Lamps, a pub in Swansea, South Wales, where Thomas had been working.

 I leant against the bar. drinking bitter, wishing that my father could see me now. He could not fail to see that I was a boy no longer, nor fail to be angry at the angle of my fag and my hat and the threat of the clutched tankard. I liked the taste of beer, its live, white lather, its brass-bright depths, the sudden world through the wet-brown walls of the glass, the tilted rush to the lips and the slow swallowing down to the lapping belly, the salt on the tongue, the foam at the corners.

‘Same again, miss.’ She was middle-aged. ‘One for you, miss?’

‘Not during hours, ta all the same.’

‘You’re welcome.’

Was that an invitation to drink with her afterwards, to wait at the back door until she glided out, and then to walk through the night, along the promenade and sands, on to a soft dune where couples lay loving under their coats and looking at the Mumbles Lighthouse?


I am indebted to the late great beer writer Michael Jackson for drawing my attention to this story.

Written by timhampson

July 25, 2013 at 11:26 am

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