REAL ALE MICROBREWING AND RELATIONS OF TRUST: A COMMODITY CHAIN PERSPECTIVE

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ABSTRACT

This paper examines the nature of supply chain linkages for microbrewing and contributes to existing geographical work on the specialist brewery industry. It argues that a commodity chain and, more specifically, a ‘whole chain’ approach, can be employed to examine such linkages and to contextualise economic relations. After outlining the main features of a whole chain methodology, the paper applies it to a case study of a real ale microbrewery in Northumberland in the North East of England. As well as examining the ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ nature of the microbrewer's own business supply chain, material from interviews with wholesalers, bottlers, pubs and other brewers is included to develop a locally sensitive cultural economy perspective. The paper reveals the complex nature of economic relationships and organisation for microbrewing, the different forms of trust that typify such supply chain relationships and tensions between difference and localness in relation to selling real ale.

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