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In these days of economic unrest, with tales of financial gloom and doom, one part of the economy looks to be doing fairly well, in fact exceptionally well. Real ale brewing seems to be on the increase.

This month's copy of the 'Imbiber' shows, as it does every issue, the number of new breweries that have started out since the last copy of the Good Beer Guide was published. I have counted 128 new breweries that have started in the last 12 months, with several more likely to come on stream in the next few months.

I am not saying all these breweries are going to be good, and some of them will only be serving a small part of the beer world, maybe only one pub, but there are plenty of people out there prepared to risk their money in creating breweries, and brewing beer.

The problem that I can envisage is that although we can applaud their desire to brew, and hope they succeed, is there enough spare money about to make them successful ? Disposable income is shrinking, we are all having to make savings, and one of the areas that savings will be made is in a person's social budget. The price of beer is continually rising, that does not mean the real ale drinker will stop drinking, just that his well earned pennies will not stretch as far. It means that he will not trip out as often as previously, whether that be to his local for a couple of pints, or to different towns to sample what's on offer.

Not only that but these new breweries are on top of the 1000 or so breweries already in existence and all are fighting for an ever decreasing slice of the customer's money. Obviously all think they will do well or they would not have invested in the equipment or ingredients to start up. And I hope they do succeed; for as we all know competition is a good thing, and I, for one, enjoy walking into a pub with a selection of beers I have never come across before, and sampling breweries new to me.

All we can hope is that the ambition of these new brewers is not misplaced, and that in a few years time, these new breweries have gone from strength to strength, we will all benefit. But I am not so sure, sometime the bubble will burst, and the market will level out. I just hope that we are not bemoaning the loss of 128 breweries then.