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I was reading the comments on Dave Bailey's blog about beer duty and one comment by Dave himself said "There is an argument that says there are too many very small brewers who aren't very good." Curmudgeon replied "that's because of the smoking ban". No he didn't actually, but what he did say was this: "Yes, while it has helped good brewers, it has also brought too many half-arsed brewers into the industry" Stringer's Beer sharply retorted "These half-arsed brewers pointed up by Curmudgeon - who's buying (and drinking) their beer? Would that be half-arsed publicans and their half-arsed customers?"

Now when we welcomed the explosion of micro brewers brought about by Progressive Beer Duty (PBD), did we imagine we'd end up with so many? Did we imagine them all to be good? Is it though just PBD that has caused this, or is it the loosening of the tie that we have also seen, leading to an increase of outlets than can take a wider variety of beer? Is the (apparent) view of free houses that you always need to have new beers on the bar a contributing factor and that some breweries,that many of us could name, exist solely it seems on the basis that they can get their beer in a pub, irrespective of quality, as long as it is cheap enough? For most small brewers - and I talk to quite a few of them - it is a dog eat dog situation of continual phoning of pubs, pleading with them to take beer, always at a discount. There is probably getting to be as many breweries now as the market will absorb - at least until the tie loosens further and tied house beer lists expand.

Of course the other side of the coin is that there are small breweries making excellent beer that do not have to discount to a great extent, as their reputation is such that they can sell what they produce. Here we are talking the Dark Stars and Pictishes of this world, but for many it is a relentless slog of seeking customers against fellow strugglers trying to do the same.

Are there half arsed breweries about? Of course there are. Why don't they go bust? Probably because they sell their beer so cheaply, to the same "half-arsed publicans and their half-arsed customers" that buy and drink down to a price.

Dedicated pub goers like me and say, Tyson, have a list of breweries in our heads that screams "Avoid" when we see them. It isn't a small list.