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'Staggering' increase in breweries

The number of breweries in Britain has increased four-fold over the past 30 years after scores of new ones opened in the past year, research has shown.

Real ale campaigners Camra said there are now a "staggering" 767 breweries operating in Britain, four times as many as when the group was founded in 1971.

Camra's new Good Beer Guide has reported that 78 new breweries have opened in the past year, a net increase of 56 after some others closed.

Good Beer Guide editor Roger Protz said: "The real ale revolution goes on in spite of all the problems facing the brewing industry such as the often anti-competitive behaviour of the large pub companies, the heavy and continuing rise in tax on beer, grossly unfair competition from supermarkets, and the smoking ban in pubs.

"Yet, against all the odds, craft breweries continue to sprout like mushrooms at dawn. The main reason is a simple one - craft brewers are responding to genuine consumer demand.

"Beer in pubs may be expensive compared to cheap supermarkets but drinkers are prepared to pay a bit extra for beer with taste and quality."

Camra also published a list of its top 16 pubs in Britain, all selling a variety of real ales, often from micro breweries nearby, including the 160-year-old Dove in Bury St Edmunds and the Brewery Tap in Chester, which is situated on the first floor of a former Jacobean banqueting hall.

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