The boom in UK breweries – which bubbled over the 2,000 mark in 2017 – means that a beer drinker’s ‘locals’ are as likely to refer to beers as pubs, with millions now opting for reduced ‘hop miles’ when they buy and support brewers closer to home.
Using its 210 branches and 1,800 line beer range, Majestic has charted this phenomenon to create a unique tasting map of Britain that picks up all the styles, flavours and sizes right down to niche brews that can be found at just a single store.
The map shows how IPA and Pale Ale styles now dominate, with over two-thirds of Majestic stores stocking these hoppy styles from local brewers. However, less predictable results appeared at local levels, with Yorkshire a region eponymous with its traditional bitter styles showing an unexpected leaning towards big fruit flavours – such as Marmalade Porter and Grapefruit IPA.
London almost unanimously opted for IPAs whereas Wales is a hotbed of dark-beer lovers. Meanwhile, at the two extremes of the country, Cornwall and Devon went for lighter Pale Ales, whilst the Highlands opted for big brooding, hop-driven Indian and American Pale Ales.
The style guide was based on selections by Majestic store managers, who research and select their own local beer ranges reflecting tastes and demand in their surrounding area based on popularity, typicity and locality. Each of the company’s 209 branches carries a core range of national beers, supplemented by a unique selection from breweries found in the surrounding region. This gave each manager over 75 beers to choose from, with over 1,500 beers assessed in total.
“Local beers are thriving as never before and people’s tastes are changing reflecting the huge supply now on offer. We also think that the environmental angle which means less ‘hop miles’ than those wracked up by huge international brewers is becoming more important. Many of our best national listings start out in a store not five miles from the brewery.” says Beth Pearce, beer buyer at Majestic.
Asked if the results would help change Majestic’s national listings, Pearce added: “we constantly monitor patterns of taste right across our estate – it’s a great way of picking up on the local trends as our customers are the ones telling us what to buy. Many of our top sellers, like Thornbridge or Twickenham Ales, started off this way”