Yorkshire '˜a capital' of new craft beer trend

A boom in the popularity of small-scale breweries means Yorkshire has emerged as a capital of craft beer.

Roosters craft beer brewery in Knaresborough - Commercial manager Tom Fozard and head brewer Oliver Fozard.
Roosters craft beer brewery in Knaresborough - Commercial manager Tom Fozard and head brewer Oliver Fozard.

Nationwide, new figures show, the number of breweries has risen eight per cent in the last year - and 65 per cent in the last five years. And with dozens of new breweries opening in Yorkshire, experts say the region has become a centre of excellence for one of the country’s most booming industries.

“Beer has become fashionable and trendy in a way it wasn’t before,” said Simon Jenkins, award-winning Yorkshire beer writer and member of the British Guild. “It’s become phenomenally popular. The price of a pint is important to people, but increasingly the quality is too.

“It’s seen across Yorkshire. Leeds certainly has become a capital of craft beer. The number of breweries has increased exponentially in recent years.”

There are now an estimated 1,700 breweries in the UK, the study by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young found, and with rising profits they are becoming a target for acquisition and expansion on an international market.

The rise in popularity of craft beer, alongside other luxury items such as fine wine and high quality cheese, is driving the success of the UK’s boutique food and drink market, the report said.

“Craft beer is leading the way in the surging popularity of artisan products and has pushed aside other brands in high street bars,” said James Simmonds of UHY Hacker Young. “Many are now firmly established household names. This increasing popularity has transformed many microbreweries into highly profitable businesses for entrepreneurs looking for a niche position in the food and drinks market. As a result of their success, microbreweries across the UK have also become attractive acquisition targets for larger breweries.”

The latest figures, from the British Beer and Pub Association, show there were 73,681 jobs supported by the beer and pub sector in Yorkshire in 2015.

Tom Fozard, from Roosters Brewery in Knaresborough, said the growth was phenomenal.

“Five years ago we thought interest peaked, when there were suddenly breweries left, right and centre,” he said. “But in the last couple of years it’s really stepped up. There’s been a real shift away from mass production to really looking at where your food comes from. It’s evolving constantly.

“A lot of traditional pubs have closed in the last decade. On the back of that is a new school of bars and micro-pubs, where the offering isn’t just alcohol - it’s food and beers and wines all brought together under a focus on flavour. The numbers are just growing and growing.”

This, he says, is good for the region’s economy but also for the country as a whole.

“The production of beer is one of the UK’s last standing industries,” he said. “I can’t begin to imagine how much it’s grown in Yorkshire.

“We’re a part of something really exciting happening here in Yorkshire. And I don’t think it’s going to go away any time soon.”