The annual guide – now in its 48th edition – is considered the definitive guide to the best pints of real beer drawn in the UK, and this year features 4,500 pubs, from country inns to no-frills micropubs and taprooms. Despite being hampered by the lockdown and ongoing restrictions, thousands of volunteers have worked to compile this year’s entries. There are around 40,800 pubs in England and Wales.
It reveals that the total number of independent British breweries has dropped to 1,816 from 1,823 last year – the first time it has seen a drop in number since the British brewery explosion began in 2008. While 163 breweries have opened this year and are newly listed, many more have closed their doors, cutting the net figure.
Camra’s National President Nik Antona has said Covid-19 is the biggest threat to UK pubs in the organization’s 50-year history. “Many pubs and breweries fought hard and the majority survived the first lockdown, but it’s clear the industry was already in a vulnerable position when Covid-19 hit,” he said.
“Since then, breweries have almost been forgotten as new restrictions have been introduced, although they rely heavily on pubs as a key outlet for their products. It’s clear that preventing the widespread closure and rebuilding our advertising culture will be Camra’s biggest challenge to date.
Among the independent breweries to have called the weather this year is the award-winning Pershore Brewery in Worcestershire, whose owners Elizabeth and Sean Barnett announced it would close “with a heavy heart” in September.
The foreword to the guide is written by chef and restaurant owner Tom Kerridge, who urges consumers to continue supporting breweries and pubs to preserve them for future generations.
“These numbers are an early indication that all is not as it should be after a difficult year of lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures,” he wrote.
“While all sectors of the UK have felt the burden of Covid-19, brewers and pubs have taken the brunt of the impact. The one thing we all missed during the lockdown is human connection and social interaction, which is first and foremost what the Great British Pub offers – a warm, happy and friendly place for people to eat and drink. .
A spokesperson for Siba, the Society of Independent Brewers, said: “2020 has been one of the most difficult on record for independent breweries, which saw their sales fall an average of 82% during the lockdown, which led two breweries a week to close their doors. for good this summer.
Breweries did not have access to trade holidays or subsidies, leaving them largely excluded from government support programs. To make matters worse, a tax hike is imminent for hundreds of small breweries, which is likely to push many more struggling businesses to the limit. “