There has been plenty of talk surrounding the craft beer industry, most notably because of brewing giant Heineken’s acquisition of a minority stake in Tottenham-based Beavertown. While many in the industry have turned their backs on this innovative craft brewery – who many would argue has played a key role bolstering the mainstream reputation of craft beers in London – it poses two interesting and related questions: firstly, what are the consequences of such an acquisition? And, secondly, is this such a bad thing?
We can address both questions by considering the hypothetical pros and cons of such an acquisition. On the one hand, the craft brewery receives an injection of cash that goes into new production facilities, which allow for the increase in production, and therefore for an increase in distribution across various markets. Of course, this means that some of favourite brews that were previously only available in your local independent bottle shop are now available in Marks & Spencers, Tesco and the like. While this may be a turn-off for the bottle store, this is surely a good thing for consumers: their products are widely available, at presumably better prices. More people uninitiated with craft beer develop a taste for it, and industry grows. Great, surely?
On the other hand, the injection of cash means the imperative of the brewery changes from pure experimentation – seen in limited edition brews that are the reason most of drink craft beer – towards consistency and continuity across a core range. We see fewer fun and interesting products as the company focuses on the cash cows. After all, small brews are labour, time and resource intensive pursuits.
What does this mean? Well, it’s difficult to have a binary opinion of good or bad on this subject. So I am going to point out the two main benefits as I see them: more people getting into craft beer is obviously great, and this should lead them down the path of discovery that we have all traveled down. This road leads to the small producers and bottle shops whose range is constantly evolving, bringing in new breweries and stocking their limited edition brews. Fortunately for us, we are in a great position to offer this range, so the following are some of our favourite breweries at the moment.
Gipsy Hill Brewing: located near Crystal Palace in South London, the guys at Gipsy Hill brewing strike a great balance between a constantly available range of core beers and a range of limited edition brews release every few weeks. The style is balanced and accessible, while the limited brews are sometimes wildly different. Margarita Sour anyone?
Siren Craft Brew: based in Wokingham, Siren were setup in 2013 with the express interest of creating full-flavoured beers for as many people as possible. They are prolific, with over 100 releases scheduled for 2018 alone, and some wild brews in there, such as the soon to be released Creamed Honey Imperial Stout Braggot!
Partizan: a Bermondsey innovator who have been working away at their brewing since 2012, they are producing a really interesting style of beer that is intensely flavoursome but on the dried side of the spectrum (opposed to the big, sweet, fruity DIPAs.) This is particularly evident in their fruit saisons, such as the limited edition Raspberry and Lemon saison, which is piquant and super refreshing.
Pop in to our new store in Muswell Hill to pick up a few interesting brews today.
James Phillips is the Beer and Spirits Buyer for Jeroboams