UK. One in two drinkers have tried real ale

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The number of UK drinkers trying real ale has risen by 40% since 2006, with more than 200 new breweries opening in that time, says the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

The figures have been released as CAMRA prepares to open its annual Great British Beer Festival at London’s Earls Court, which runs from today (Tuesday) until Saturday.

The CAMRA Omnibus Survey, carried out in June, showed that 52% of UK drinkers have tried real ale. In 2006, that figure was 37%. Since then, the real ale market has increased 25%, with 200 new breweries entering the market.

There are now over 800 breweries operational across the UK, CAMRA said.

Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s national chairman, said: “It’s strange to think that at the turn of the 21st century, the real ale market was in decline, and many predicted a further downturn in fortunes. Yet in the present day, real ale brewing is recognised as one of the most vibrant areas of the small business sector, and we now enjoy more brewers than at any time since the end of the Second World War.

“There are promising times ahead for the industry when a new era of discerning consumers are demanding quality products that are locally produced and represent good value for money.

“The fact many brewers in the current climate are reporting record like for like sales increases shows this renewed interest is not about to end, and the Great British Beer Festival is the showcase for the present growth of the industry.”

According to the group, 65,000 people are expected to visit the festival, which will showcase 300 British beers.