Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Here for The(real)beer; Madonna Helps Tip Tastes in Ale Revival

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Here for The(real)beer; Madonna Helps Tip Tastes in Ale Revival

Article excerpt


REAL ale is undergoing a revival.

A backlash against mass-produced "factory lager" and the endorsement of famous names such as Madonna, have helped make it fashionable, according to a new guide.

A tax change announced by Gordon Brown in the 2002 Budget has also saved dozens of small, fledgling breweries from going to the wall.

A record 80 real ale breweries - including two in London - have opened in the past year and independent breweries are seeing huge increases in sales.

The Good Beer Guide for next year says: "With around 500 micro (breweries), 35 family-owned breweries and several bigger regional producers, there is now greater choice than at any time since the Campaign for Real Ale was founded in 1971."

The trend reverses decades of decline that has seen huge international lager brands such as Belgium's Stella Artois, Dutch-owned Heineken and American beer Budwieser decimate the market for longestablished home-grown ales.

Roger Protz, editor of the guide, said: "You cannot dispute the fact that people don't open breweries unless consumers want to drink their beers.

"It is the biggest number of new breweries I can recall and there have been very few closures.

"This year we have had 80 new breweries and only about 20 going out of business."

He said the industry had been helped hugely by the Government's introduction of Progressive Beer Duty, which means brewers producing less than 30,000 barrels a year pay less tax.

In an echo of the organic food movement, the guide says: "Beer lovers are tired of over-hyped national brands and avoid like the plague the bland apologies for lager and the cold, tasteless keg beers produced by the global giants.

"Beers with aroma and flavour are back in vogue and smaller brewers are rushing to meet the clamour from consumers."

The trend has been helped by a number of famous people claiming real ale as their favourite tipple.

Madonna became the best-known and least-likely recruit to the ranks of real ale enthusiasts when she told BBC1 chat show host Jonathan Ross that she liked nothing more than to slip out to a pub with filmmaker husband Guy Ritchie to enjoy a pint of the West Yorkshire-made beer Timothy Taylor. …

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