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Drinkers are ditching mass-produced lagers in favour of local brews, which means that Britain now has more breweries than before the Second World War, says the Good Beer Guide 2009.

Editor Roger Protz reports that 70 microbreweries have opened over the last two years, adding to the 80 in 2006 and 80 in 2007.

"Britain now has more than 550 craft breweries, and many of them are enjoying spectacular growth," he says. "The reason is simple -- more and more drinkers are looking for taste and character in beer rather than the tasteless fizz."

The guide says that the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) reports an average increase in sales of 11% in 2007, while sales of Stella Artois, the country's biggest-selling premium lager, fell by 10%.

Says Protz: "Major brewers, including Marston's of Burton-on-Trent and Wolverhampton, and Fuller's of West London, have applied to join SIBA despite already being members of the British Beer and Pub Association.

"More and more consumers are concerned with how beers are made and the ingredients used. They prefer beers made and sold locally rather than driven thousands of miles. The success of craft brewing really fits the green, carbon-conscious attitudes of modern consumers."

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