Craft: a Publican's Prerogative | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Craft: a Publican's Prerogative

With so many great things happening in UK brewing and beer in general, I hope that 2016 brings about a shift in publicans' attitudes. There is a thirst from consumers to drink well-made and interesting beers, and plenty of breweries to make them who do not have the outlets to shift the quantities needed for long-term production. 

There are undoubtedly some cities that have really upped their game in terms of "craft" beer. As an example, Leeds is swimming in indie beer outlets with Beer Ritz, Tall Boys and Little Beer House, plus pioneering craft beer-driven bars such as North Bar, Friends of Ham and Bundobust, who are shortly due to open another bar in Manchester... itself another great embracer of modern beer. Some of the most progressive breweries in the country can be found over the Pennines - Cloudwater and Chorlton amongst a veritable swathe of new railway arch breweries and even the more traditional breweries such as Marble taking steps of progress.

Newcastle plays host to a wide range of brew bars such as the Bridge Tavern and the Hop and Cleaver, plus the Cumberland with Northern Alchemy in a couple of shipping containers on the premises. It's places such as this, making small batches of progressive beer, that could well be the next "big thing" for drinkers. Interesting brews, knowledgeable staff, and an all round great atmosphere.

Aberdeen and Edinburgh are already two places I would wholeheartedly recommend going to for a beer tour. With 60 beers over two bars alone in Aberdeen it certainly is worth a trip. And then there is London which goes without saying (or at least saying by someone who knows it better than this northern monkey) is a cornucopia of craftiness.  

There are also a whole host of cities on the cusp of becoming the craft destinations so many of the "new wave" of beer drinkers crave, such as Nottingham, Bristol, Sheffield and Birmingham. But despite these cities being established as places to consume beer, they still need to give keg a bit more of a big hug and embrace it firmly as a worthwhile and profitable piece of the drinks industry pie. 

It can also be argued that even with the upsurge of interest in better quality beer, some new breweries are struggling to sell their product. With an ever increasing supply of beer, a small number of new craft bars opening but the continual closing of pubs and the ever prominent abundance of tied pubs, it is becoming a real concern for some about how to keep afloat. There are plenty of producers not able to sell their product because of a reluctance on the part of landlords to spend a reasonable price for beer. This is an attitude which for me really needs to change... as a drinker, I would be more than willing to put my hand in my pocket and spend an extra 50p on a decent, interesting pint, and it's time for publicans to realise this. There'll always be a place for a £2.50 pint of generic blonde beer on the bar, but for the beer scene to continue to thrive and grow, the new, "craft" alternatives need to be more visible. This is a call for pub owners everywhere to take just a little bit of a risk, try something new, and take more of an active part in the conversations about the changes to our beery landscape.



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