Thanet venues included in Good Beer Guide 2021 – as ale campaign group warns of Covid impact on breweries

The 2021 Good Beer Guide has been released

Eleven Thanet venues have been included in the Good Beer Guide 2021 – including  four that have been listed for the first time – bucking a national trend as breweries close for reasons including the impact of the pandemic and the threat of changes to Small Brewers Relief.

Kent as a whole is the only region which has had new openings, including Xylo in Margate, despite one of the toughest years in living memory. Another two isle breweries opened just too late for inclusion in the guide which is produced by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

These were Shivering Sands brewery and tap room at Maple Leaf Estate, Manston and Floc. Brewing in Thanet Road, Margate.

Nationally a decline of breweries is reported for the first time in nearly two decades.

There are a total of 27 new local pub entries in this year’s Guide across Kent. Thanet features 4 new entries among the 11 listed.

Martin Knight, current Thanet branch chair as well as newly elected Regional Director for Kent, said: “I want to thank all the local volunteers who have worked tirelessly to gather the most up to date data for inclusion in this guide.

“Whilst the beer scene in Thanet appears to be buoyant and the majority have survived the first lock down, trends in breweries no longer producing (for whatever reason) raises concerns the real impact of COVID has yet to be felt.

“Therefore, CAMRA continues to call on government to put together a robust support package for all pubs and breweries, to ensure the numbers are not substantially lower when we print the next guide.”

Listed in the guide for Thanet were:

Bake & Alehouse is the isle’s top CAMRA pub
  • The current Thanet CAMRA pub of the year, the Bake & Alehouse in Westgate
  • New entry, the Red Lion, Ramsgate
  • New entry, Ramsgate’s Royal Victoria Pavilion
  • A first time entry for The Pub Micropub in Broadstairs
  • New entry, the Artillery Arms in Ramsgate
  • The Old Bay Alehouse in Birchington
  • Fez, Margate
  • Two Halves, Margate
  • Hair of the Dog, Minster,
  • Montefiore Arms, Ramsgate
  • The Four Candles, St Peters

Delighted Four Candles micropub and microbrewery boss Mike Beaumont said: “It is great that our micropub and Britain’s smallest brewery has made it into the guide. Thanet has a healthy micropub industry and we are pleased to be a part of that with the Four Candles and our newly taken over Conqueror in Ramsgate which was the isle’s first micropub launched by Colin Aris.”

Photo Phil Bay

Royal Victoria Pavilion manager, Chris Whitbourn, said: “I am delighted that Royal Victoria Pavilion has been recognised for the quality of its real ales by CAMRA members.

“We offer our customers an excellent range of real ales at all times, including those from regional brewers and microbrewers, as well as hosting our own beer festivals.

“Staff at the pub work hard to ensure that the real ales on offer are kept in first-class condition at all times and the pub’s inclusion in the guide highlights this.”

The Two Halves and proud owner Shaun Smethers

The 2021 Guide has found the total number of independent UK breweries has dipped from 1,823 in 2019 to 1,816 in 2020 – a dramatic shift since the explosion in UK breweries started in 2008 and a reflection of the impact COVID-19 has already had on the industry.

The Good Beer Guide is the Campaign for Real Ale’s premier publication, featuring the very best pubs in which to find a great pint across the UK. Despite being hampered by a national lockdown and ongoing restrictions, thousands of independent volunteers have worked together to compile this year’s entries, helping to identify significant trends and themes locally and nationally.

Family business: John, Max and Luke are at the helm of The Pub

This year, celebrity chef Tom Kerridge penned the foreword, urging the country to ‘stay strong and stay positive’ despite the ongoing challenges.

Nik Antona, CAMRA National Chairman added: “This is truly a pivotal time that could make or break the industry. Our pubs and breweries are going to need significant, long-term support and funding throughout this transition period and in the months to come to survive.

“Breweries have all but been forgotten as new restrictions have been introduced, yet heavily rely on pubs as a key outlet for their products. Simultaneously, the Government is considering changes to Small Brewers Relief, which would result in higher taxes for many small brewers. Simply put, this couldn’t come at a worse time – our brewers need all the support they can get to stay afloat.”

The Good Beer Guide 2021 is now available from the CAMRA shop at https://shop1.camra.org.uk/product/the-good-beer-guide-2021 and there is an updated app version available for download on both iOS and Android devices.

Small breweries unite to fight change that could ‘kill industry’