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Campaign for real Ale and the Brew Dog

22/10/2014

I have now arrived in Berlin and spent an enjoyable day doing touristy type things in the city but before I delve into the intrigue of that city there are a couple of final things which I would like to add about England and London in general in a couple of posts.

Campaign for real ale and the Brew Dog bar

The craft beer craze now seems to have taken over New Zealand and there are a large range of independent brewers exploring interesting and diverse flavors of beer. Wellington’s Garage Project is gaining a growing reputation internationally (anecdotally I was impressed to see it mentioned in a magazine special on New Zealand when I flew on Lufthanse airlines).

British beer in the 1960s and early 70s did not have much of a reputation although a voluntary consumer organization seems to have promoted significant change in encouraging the growth of a craft beer market. The Campaign for Real Ale or CAMRA was founded in 1971 by four men from the North West discouraged by the state of British beer at the time delivered by the few major brewers in the market who promoted beers perceived to be of low quality and flavor (also lacking in range). I learnt of CAMRA when I joined my host in Chichester at a local pub there for a pint. Noticing it called itself a “Free house” I asked what this meant. I was informed this was a divergence from the normal practice before CAMRA where pubs typically aligned themselves with major breweries and sold only the beers brewed by that company (necessarily limiting the choice available to patrons), by contrast “Free House” meant that pub was unaligned to any brewer and could serve any beer produced by any brewer. Here is a detailed wikipedia page on the history of the term and beer in England.

This opened up the market to smaller independent brewers and encouraged greater range and diversity of beer for thirsty patrons (note the Juniper and Hemp available in Brighton from my earlier post).

One of the more prominent independent brewers is the Scottish Brew Dog. Starting in 2007 with just 2 employees (and one dog their website adds) they brewed 1,050 hectoliters, as of 2013 they had 224 employees and brewed 53,500 hectoliters. Catching up with a kiwi mate now ensconced in London and the English way of life (but definitely not warm beer!) we enjoyed a couple of pints at the Brew Dog bar in London. I had a German style hefeweisen (my personal preference) and then the Pumpkin Head IPA (both were excellent).

With the rise of Brew Dog and other craft beer brewers it seems that British beer is in good health. Cheers!

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