While many of us in the blogosphere are getting a bit tired of all this "what is craft?" stuff, a long foreseen development is, well, developing. Greene King is to open a £750,000
“innovation brewhouse” at its Bury St Edmunds brewery for experimenting
with different craft beer styles.
"Now this isn't new" you'll hoot - and it isn't, as some other fairly large breweries have done so, not least of all, Thwaites and Brains, who have both produced excellent stuff from their breweries within breweries. But GK is much bigger and the very entrance of such a big brewer to the so called craft market may dilute (in the eyes of some at least) the value of the term even more than it already is. As the brewery will include a packaging plant, it seems clear they are aiming at the take home trade as well as the on trade and are looking to compete across all boundaries. Muddy waters are going to be even more muddy soon it seems.
One thing the big breweries do have is fully trained brewers with a huge back up from technical and laboratory boffins, sales and marketing. They are unlikely to produce dodgy beer and if they give the brewers their head, they'll take market share. A worry for some perhaps? While you may view this as a good or bad thing depending on your point of view, the setting up of this brewery is evidence at least that the big boys are sitting up and taking notice and as these things take time to procure and set up, they have clearly been sitting up and taking notice for quite some time.
Everyone else should too. Set to open on 20 November and beer available from next year. Photo from GK's own website.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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