Well end of 2011 anyway! HA! How's that for SEO? It's well past that too as I wrote this quite some time ago and forgot about it... 1000 apologies.
Yes and what a year it was, and how huge was it for British beer? Well if I were to tell you that currently British bottled beer is pushing out US craft beer and Belgian beer in the fridges of North then perhaps you'd understand. In a beacon of world beer with 15 keg lines and 4 cask lines British cask is still the best selling product by a good measure. Despite the sustained influx of beer from the US, new craft products from Denmark, Norway and well, Scotland (that top bit is almost Scandinavia in my book) as well as sleeping giant Germany starting to experiment with newer styles the renaissance in British brewing is growing, becoming more diverse and very much going from strength to strength.
British cask and bottles are here to stay folks DO NOT underestimate cask beer and slag it off at your fucking peril. The British cask tradition is the heart of our beer scene and pretty unique, when done well it'll knock spots off any serving method - I triple dare anyone to show me an imperial stout that tastes better on keg than in cask.
Don't get me wrong, I've been pretty closed lipped on this subject, perhaps because I serve a hell of a lot of keg beer, perhaps because all the fuff going round last year is just that. It's certainly a distraction if not a complete waste of time to gibber away over format. Just as in North bar, the holy triumvirate of cask, keg and bottle must and will remain.
There's shit out there for sure, and however unfortunate for smaller local brewers a consolidation will doubtless occur soon. With new and interesting powerhouses of British brewing emerging it will become harder to sell dull beer, which to be honest everyone should be happy about. Beer can and should be outstanding and delicious, indifference is not an option.
I strongly suspect that 2012 is likely to be a bit of a new dawn for beer as the press and recognition people in the industry have been madly craving is slowly coming through. Trade publications (yes the ones with wine and cocktails in) have been gradually increasing their coverage and savvy entrepreneurs are cutting swaths through the traditional image of the beer drinker and leaving old stereotypes by the wayside.
It's a great time to be in the industry and what with some big plans for North's 15th anniversary this year as well as the mega coup that is getting the EBBC in Leeds - it's gonna be fun!