Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Greene King and A Brief History of British Beer: Part 4

The Campaign for Real Ale was started in Britain in 1971 in response to the growing dominance of industrial lager and ale. It championed real ale and traditional British beer and for many years was not much more than an afterthought. But through perseverance and by tapping into a strong sense of national identity and pride in British brewing tradition has slowly help revive the market for, and interest in, real British ale. CAMRA also promotes British pubs and their role in the center of British society.

Inside the Coopers Tavern in Burton upon Trent

For many years the identity of CAMRA could probably be described as a bunch of white haired pensioners with little better to do than grumble about the beer in the pub. But over time the identity of real ale has gone from being a pensioners drink to find a new audience among hip young beer drinkers looking for something new, local and authentic. Ale suffered long years of precipitous decline: in the 70s and 80s cask beer was about 40% of the British beer market, ale makes up about 14% of the British beer market and cask ale only about 7 to 8%. But ale is now making a comeback, the market is now growing again and is the only segment of the British beer market for which this is true. Which is why there was a big shake up among the heritage British breweries and helps explain both the growth of and the acrimony to, Greene King.

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