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A Brief History of Craft Beer

Craft beer can be seen as the zenith of ‘DIY’ beer, and today it still shares the same creativity and zest as the best homebrewed beers.

While beer has been brewed in the UK for centuries, it wasn’t until the 1970s that experimental craft brewing really took off. 

Craft beer takes beer back to its roots and delights in the creation of unique, distinctive and individual flavours that exist to be savoured rather than swigged.

In fact, the world of craft beers now encompasses a huge variety of styles, from IPA, porter and pale ale to sour, wheat and stout. 

The first microbreweries of the 1970s

The term ‘craft beer’ dates back to the 1970s when it was first used to describe the beers created by microbreweries in the UK and the USA, such as those from the Selby Brewery in 1972. 

It’s a moniker that highlights the craftsmanship and artisanry that goes into each and every craft beer that you enjoy.

It’s also no coincidence that homebrewing beer became legal in the US in 1979, shortly after this explosion of interest in craft beers.

The growth in popularity of craft beers throughout the ‘70s caused stagnation in the commercial beer industry, as consumers decided they wanted more variety and more flavour. 

While mainstream commercial beers like Heineken and Coors have remained popular to this day, the popularity of craft beer has increased steadily since the 1970s. Now, 65% of UK consumers say they prefer craft beer to more commercial options.

FUN FACT: IPAs can trace their history back to the 1970s when sailors travelling to India could neither brew their own beers in the hot Indian climate nor take beers with them from the UK. Brewers solved this problem by creating IPAs with higher hops content, which meant they could survive the journey from the UK to India.

Craft Beer History

An explosion of interest in craft beer

If you’re thinking that you’ve noticed a recent explosion of interest in craft beer, particularly here in the UK, you’d be right.

The number of breweries operating in the UK has risen sharply since 2000, with around 500 breweries listed in the UK in 2000 and at least 1,850 breweries today.

In part, this could be down to the introduction of tax breaks in 2002 by the then chancellor Gordon Brown, which allowed smaller breweries to pay 50% less beer duty than larger breweries.

This gave microbreweries the edge over their competitors and made it more financially viable for smaller breweries to compete on a national scale.

As new breweries cropped up nationwide, the general public’s taste for craft beer grew. This has been reflected in the number of bars and pubs that have swapped commercial beers for craft ones, plus the growing amount of shelf space that supermarkets now dedicate to craft beer.

Consumers no longer see beer as a cheap drink that solely exists for the purpose of getting drunk; today, beer drinkers expect better from their breweries.

Craft Beer 2

The future of craft beer in the UK

The rapid increase in the number of breweries creating unique craft beers since 2000 has slowed somewhat in recent years, although it’s far from a thing of the past. In the year up to March 2022, 200 new brewing licences were granted in the UK alone.

While the number of breweries across the UK has perhaps started to reach a natural plateau, this doesn’t indicate a loss of interest in craft beer. 

In fact, more and more breweries are opening tap rooms, which are drinking areas where customers can sample beer that’s produced on-site.

They are a great alternative to pubs, the beer produced is often the star of the show, although many tap rooms serve great food and other drinks too. 

The continued interest of consumers in craft beer ensures that smaller craft breweries and tap rooms like ours will be able to continue bringing new flavours to the market for years to come.

Our beers at Black Storm Brewery

At Black Storm Brewery, we’re just a small part of the story. We launched back  in 2017 and we take pride in creating distinctive beers inspired by good times and great flavours.

Browse our range of craft beers online today and come pick up your favourites from our shop.

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