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Time to celebrate

On 14/08/13 by David Wilson (Director of Public Affairs)

Our industry has a lot to celebrate as the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival returned to Olympia this week.

Energetic Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis MP enthusiastically addressed the opening gathering of the CAMRA event. His passionate support for our industry was infectious as he made the widely-trailed announcement that pubs listed as community assets on local authority registers had topped 100.

Earlier I had bumped into a happy Andrew Griffiths MP – Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group – wearing a fetching Tribute trilby from St Austell brewery. He joyfully pointed out the Ceaucescu-sized banner photo of himself and the Chancellor which is hanging in suspended animation from the roof of Olympia. It is part of a photo montage from CAMRA toasting the beer duty campaign success and was taken at a BBPA-organised post-Budget celebration.

We have much to celebrate. Our brewers continue to produce fantastic new beers – I had the pleasure of sampling a good number yesterday in my stylish third of a pint glass. I was blown away by the Brains ‘Bragging Rights’ and the Courage ‘Russian Imperial Stout’ from Wells and Youngs is something to savour. As a Swindon boy, I had to sample the new Arkells’ beer ‘Bramling X’ and really enjoyed ‘Proper Job’ from St Austell.

Whilst beers from around the world were available at the festival, it is clear that British beer is more than holding its own up against trendy US and veteran continental European competition. GBBF is an important window on the world for the cask ale element of the British beer market. It provides a platform for the national media to talk about beer and pubs in a positive way.

There seems to be a gradual but growing awareness in the media of the huge diversity of beer styles and flavours and how they match with different foods - evidenced by the array of food and drink writers I spoke to at the festival’s Trade Day.

Even at GBBF the demographic profile of beer consumers is getting younger and more balanced. Whilst there were characters at the festival who clearly conform to the lazy media stereotype of a beer drinker, the diversity of attendees had notably increased.

We have still some way to go but I left GBBF feeling that we may be turning a corner in how our industry is perceived by politicians and the media alike. Let’s drink to that.


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