Blog: Lucy BritnerPeople want to drink beer in cafes

Lucy Britner | 6 May 2016

The rules have changed. The goal posts have... gone?

In 2005, new licensing laws that offered flexible opening hours were introduced to the UK. Less than two years later, smoking was banned in public places. In the years that have followed, drinking establishments have evolved. For one, before the changes, it was rare to get a decent coffee in a pub. Now, it's feels like it's rare not to.

Research released today by trade organisation the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) suggests a fifth of UK consumers would visit coffee shops more often if they served a range of British craft beers.

"The UK’s craft brewing industry has never been stronger or more exciting," says SIBA MD Mike Benner in the report. "There is a clear fit between coffee shops and craft-brewed beer - particularly craft canned and bottled beers, which are small, light and easy to store, but offer amazing flavour and quality.”

The study points to several examples across the country - from bike shop/cafe/craft beer outlets in East London to Bier Cafes in Yorkshire. And, the move is not limited to kooky independents - massive coffee chains such as Starbucks have also started selling booze in the UK.

“Beer from craft breweries lends itself to being drunk in a variety of outlets and increasingly we are seeing crossover businesses fusing British independent craft beer with a coffee shop style," says Benner. "These outlets are popular with a wide and diverse demographic and offer beers which present a true range of flavours meaning there really is something for everybody to enjoy - from punchy, intense and bitter to smooth, roasted and full-bodied - the flavours associated with great beer could just as easily be describing coffee."

I think the interesting bit here is about 'wide and diverse demographics' - arguably one thing the traditional pub wasn't very good at.

One thing, though: What will we call these places? Beer cafes? Craft coffee pubs? Craft cafes? It seems like there's plenty of scope for us all to agonise over the definition.

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