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A New Sort of Tied House

Beer author Pete Brown has a new entry on his blog about a new sort of tied house that's popping up in the UK.

The article: http://petebrown.blogspot.com/2010/11/brewery-tap-next-generation.html

Tied houses are an old practice that used to be used here in the US and still exist to an extant in the UK. The basic idea: breweries used to own the whole of the distribution chain. They brewed it, packaged it and ran the pubs and saloons that poured the beer. In the run up to Prohibition the US was full of Anti-Saloon movements that focused on the admittedly wretched excess of the bars at the time. So the breweries at the time played it smart and divested themselves of their saloons.

In the UK, the practice of tied houses was common place until the 1980's and new pub laws put into place by the Margaret Thatcher administration. Breweries with their giant pub chains ironically divested themselves of their breweries to focus themselves on the more profitable enterprise of selling to the public. Now British micros are wanting back into the pub business to put their beers in front of the public. Not surprisingly, the micros don't have the money to own their own pubs. So now, they're teaming up with other groups to retrofit old pubs and sort of "co-tieing".

Could we see that sort of thing here in the US? Recent breweries, like our friends at Eagle Rock, have found great income and promotion opportunities in running their own tasting  rooms where they can control the guest's experience and the presentation of thier beer. Already we've seen established breweries like Sierra Nevada run their brewpub, Stone's Bistro (and their soon to open San Diego branch), the Bruery's newly opened Provisions store front. These are all self-owned, but would you go for a bar owned effectively by two breweries? For all the love, peace, happiness and general get-togetherness we talk about in the Craft Beer Movement, could two American business owner actually manage a joint effort?

It's an interesting thought. Regardless of where the idea may (or not) go here, I'm glad to see new channels and ideas being forged to keep good beer alive anywhere and everywhere.

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