The Rise of Craft Beer In The UK

craft beer reading artis

To fully appreciate the range of craft beer Reading has to offer, we thought we’d take you back to the roots of craft culture and explore the history of this brewing revolution.

US Origins

The end of the 1970s saw a decrease in the size and shape of the American beer industry. Overrun by corporate production, the taste and diversity of beer reached a standstill, with large conglomerates controlling an increasingly uniform, watered-down industry. Let’s just say the industry was about as flat as a pint that’s sat in the sun for too long…

During this time, however, President Jimmy Carter made a move that would ultimately save the beer industry from hopeless monotony. He deregulated the brewing industry (hurrah!) allowing hundreds of Americans to begin developing a homebrew culture. Giving way to tastes and traditions from far beyond the US, these became the original craft beers.

One of the main movers and shakers was the New Albion Brewery in Sonoma, California. Founded by a homebrew enthusiast, the company only produced for six short years but the inspiration others drew from these guys lasted much longer and rising craft breweries of the time followed in New Albion’s footsteps.

The 1980s and 1990s saw momentum surge for American craft beers. A movement defined by passion, vision and dynamism of taste, the home brewers of the era were driven by their desire to rebel against the mass-produced commodity mainstream beer had become.

Since 2005, there’s been a resurgence of this movement as more beer drinkers began to identify with smaller, local brewers. Thus, craft beer became the cult staple it is today.

Crossing The Pond

The move from this American grassroots campaign to the rising cult of craft beer in Reading and the rest of the UK today took place along a surprisingly similar timeline. While America was struggling with mass produced corporate beers, the UK was facing threats to its long established tradition of British cask ale. In 1971, a group of British ale enthusiasts formed CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. CAMRA had an enormous impact on the preservation of traditional beer production and still stands today as a strong force in the industry.

It wasn’t until 2002, however, that the craft beer scene seriously stormed the UK. Good old Gordon Brown instated the Progressive Beer Duty, which allowed smaller breweries to pay less tax and, inspired by our friends across the pond, the industry exploded. The growth of small breweries in the UK grew exponentially, with 2005 marking the true surge in craft beer popularity across the country. While we like to think of craft beer as a small cult movement it is, in part, these figures and political moves we have to thank for the incredible array of craft beer Reading and the UK can enjoy today.

Why We Love Craft Beer

Beer should be about individuality, heritage, tradition, exploration, taste and smell – all values that are distinctly lacking in mass-produced beverages, which prioritise profit margins.

Creativity is at the heart of craft beer production, from the brewing processes and ingredients to label design and marketing. Craft brewers spend time focusing on taste and quality. They are invested in producing a unique and great tasting product. Every brewery is different and you’ll find exclusive tastes in each delightful bottle of craft beer. Reading alone offers a number flavours from all around the world, right on your doorstep. Exploration and experimentation are fundamental to the craft beer industry, and that’s something we whole-heartedly encourage at Artigiano. 

We also love choice. There are so many great beers out there to try, each with wildly different influences, traditions and tastes. Each bottle becomes an experience, rather than an accompaniment to a night with friends or a means to an inebriated end. Challenging and developing your own taste buds allows you to step away from the traditions you have become comfortable with and opens you up to a whole new world. The assortment of craft beer on offer has even become the focal point of social gatherings for some – trying new flavours with friends and discussing each one.

The tight-knit community of the craft beer cult is another reason to love this exciting industry. Encouraging creativity and obliterating boundaries, brewers and drinkers alike work together to ensure craft breweries will continue to survive and flourish.

For all these reasons and more, we offer a wide range of craft beers. Reading, Exeter, Oxford and London’s Artigiano all benefit from a diverse line-up of local breweries. So pop in for a drinking adventure that might just change the way you view beer itself.

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