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Peter Austin – the man who brewed a thumping good pint

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Peter Austin, the man who brewed a thumping good pint, who is widely regarded as the inspiration for many of today’s brewers has died aged 92.

Regarded as the most influential brewer of his era, his help and inspiration was fundamental in the creation of hundreds of brewers worldwide.

There cannot be many other brewers who can claim to have influenced so many who set up breweries in the 1970 and early 1980s.

He set up the Ringwood Brewery, Hampshire in 1978 and demonstrated there was a market for local beer. He was also instrumental in the founding of SIBA – the Society of Independent Brewers – in 1980 and became its first chairman.

His brewing career began in 1942, during World War II, at the Friary Brewery in Guildford and then there was a spell at Morrells in Oxford. He moved to the Hull Brewery, where eventually he became head brewer before retiring in 1975. But, brewing was in his blood and his work was far from over. He was intrigued by a small brewery opened by a former Watney brewer Bill Urquart, who opened the Litchborough Brewery, in a barn next to his house in 1974. At the time, there were only a handful of small brewers in the country.

Peter along with other early brewing pioneers of the micro-revolution, including Simon Whitmore (Butcombe) and Nigel Fitzhugh (Blackawton) came to Urquart, to find out how to do it.

At Ringwood he created some iconic beers including Old Thumper, CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain in 1988 and Fortyniner.

He was also became a brewing consultant and small-scale equipment manufacturer and it is this that really made his mark.

Peter Austin & Partners provided a “complete brewery package” for small brewers. He showed that it was possible to build a new brewery with limited capital, and this played a key role in facilitating the growth in the numbers of small brewers.

Among the early entrepreneurs he supplied were David Bruce (Firkin) and Mark Wallington (Archers) but there were many others both in this country and later around the world. Between 1977 and 1984, he installed many breweries in the UK, the United States of America, Bavaria, Belgium and Ireland.

Peter was also a pioneering campaigner for Progressive Beer Duty, without which many of today’s brewers would not be in business. In August 1984 he wrote: “I believe there is now an overwhelming case for small UK brewers to be given duty concessions just the same as in every other brewing nation in the EEC.”

Today, his legacy is a thriving scene for small, local brewers, not just in the UK but worldwide.

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Written by timhampson

January 4, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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