Campaign for Real Ale research highlights boom in number of pubs stocking real ale

Portsmouth Camra committee member Oliver Sandercock, left, and colleague Martyn Constable at the Gosport Winterfest beer festival in February 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150255-1)
Portsmouth Camra committee member Oliver Sandercock, left, and colleague Martyn Constable at the Gosport Winterfest beer festival in February 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150255-1)
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There’s no mistaking that the popularity of real ale and home-grown beers has grown in recent years.

New statistics compiled by the Campaign for Real Ale highlight how many of our pubs are pulling out the stops to make sure they’re keeping up with demand.

It’s probably the most exciting time to be a real ale drinker ever.

Campaign for Real Ale member Martyn Constable

Research released to mark the launch of the beer group’s 2016 Good Beer Guide shows of the UK’s 53,444 pubs, 37,356 now serve real ale, equivalent to 70 per cent.

The figure was a third of that when the book – which recommends the best pubs to visit across Britain – was first published in 1975.

And the number of UK breweries has increased by over 10 per cent for the third consecutive year, bringing a huge increase in the choice and availability of cask beer to drinkers.

A total of 204 new breweries have opened in 12 months, taking the total number to 1,424 – the highest since the 1930s and 1940s.

In Portsmouth, new brewers have cropped up in the form of Urban Island Brewing Company in Limberline Spur, Portsmouth, and The Southsea Brewing Company.

Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire Camra branch member Martyn Constable said: ‘It’s probably the most exciting time to be a real ale drinker ever. There are more beers and we have seen styles like summer beers, stouts and porters, that were almost lost, come back again.

‘At the moment I know there are about three or four Hampshire brewers which are doing a green-style beer using fresh hops so you get a different flavour.’

Talking about why real ale is so popular, Martyn said: ‘People like diversity and at like to try lots of different beers.

‘I think this trend will continue. This is only the beginning.’

The new firms join a raft of other beer makers in the area, including: Irving & Co Brewery in Drayton, Portsmouth; Oakleaf Brewing Company in Gosport; Brewhouse and Kitchen in Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth; and Havant Brewery.

Good Beer Guide editor Roger Protz says: ‘The great British beer revolution rolls on and appears to be unstoppable.

‘More and more new breweries have been launched to 
keep up with the demand for full-bodied, full-flavoured beers.

‘Britain now has more breweries per head than any other country and the range of beers on offer is the best in the world, ranging from the palest golden ale to the darkest, pitch-black stout.’