Craft beer might be expensive but that’s also driving its status as a luxury good.
According to a report by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, the perception of craft beer as an “aspirational” item has boosted its demand.
This has seen the number of new breweries in London jump 24% from last year to 36.
‘Craft’ beer is defined as beer produced in ‘microbreweries,’ which are small scale, independently owned breweries that sprung up in Britain in the 1970s.
They have had a resurgence in the UK and US over the last decade, placing an emphasis on taste and quality over profit. But some microbreweries have been so successful they have been bought by bigger companies.
The highly popular Camden Town Brewery was purchased by Belgium beverage conglomerate AB InBev for a rumoured £85 million ($121 million).
James Simmonds, of UHY Hacker Young, said that craft beer had cemented its popularity beyond “hipster areas of Shoreditch and Hackney:
“It’s not surprising that London has such a large amount of new microbreweries, with the high numbers of young professionals working within the City. Because craft beer is viewed as a luxury good, customers are prepared to pay a higher price in comparison to other more commercially branded beers. [Microbreweries] have become household names and this in turn has only spurred more entrepreneurs to try their hand at brewing.”
Elsewhere in England, the number of new breweries opening actually decreased. 249 opened compared to 278 in 2014, down 10%. However Wales saw a jump of 35% to 17 new breweries.
Anyone thinking of starting their own microbrewery may be encouraged to know about the government’s Small Breweries Relief Scheme, which provides tax relief for brewers that produce fewer than 10.6 million pints of beer a year.
However a licence to make anything stronger is required, as the penalty for ‘illegally made spirits’ (“moonshine”) is £1,000 ($1,443) and a confiscation of equipment.