Sales of real ale have bucked beer’s downward trend. According to TNS, a market-research firm, the volume of real-ale sales has grown by 3% over the past year, whereas total beer sales were flat. Among all alcoholic drinks, only cider and wine performed better. Around 600 breweries now produce real ale, says Adrian Tierney-Jones, a journalist and beer expert. Their number has doubled in 15 years.What is the driving factor of this growth? The Economist offers several explanations:
Beer boosters argue that consumers prefer a higher-quality product...
Others point to the backlash against big business and globalisation that also fuels sales of organic food and locally-grown vegetables... Patriotism plays a part as well: one T-shirt at Earls Court flaunted a bulldog relieving himself on a European Union flag.
But perhaps the most likely explanation is that despite its folk origins, real ale is "mostly imbibed by the same rich or aspirational classes who helped to popularise (non-native) wine." It's this driving force which, in my opinion, will open up opportunities for craft brewers throughout the developing world as middle classes grow and their aspirational tastes become more sophisticated.