Home brewing in the UK was exempted from beer duty in 1963 by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Reginald Maudling. During the 1960s and 70s it enjoyed a surge in popularity, as it offered the chance to drink beer stronger than that available in pubs at a much lower price. However, it gained a reputation as something that was at the same time unpalatable and of rocket fuel strength, and in the 70s and 80s was often the butt of comedians’ jokes and sitcom stories. It was also increasingly seen as the preserve of the suburban bore, dressed in sleeveless pullover and forever pottering about in the shed.
From the 1980s onwards, it declined in popularity, as the supermarkets made more effort to discount beer for the take-home trade, and the booze cruise to Calais became more commonplace. It became more the pursuit of the genuine enthusiast than people who were mainly interested in the price.
However, with the weakness of the pound against the Euro, and regular above-inflation duty rises, it looks as though home brew is coming into its own again. One home brew shop in Norwich reports a 400% increase in trade over three years. And there is every prospect of this trend continuing, especially if we ever get minimum pricing in any form. No doubt, though, the authorities will then be looking at ways of banning it or taxing it.