Establishment of the National Brewing Library

  • Towards the end of the 20th century, the professional and technical organisations which supported the UK brewing industry were being rationalized.

    In January 2001 The Institute of Brewing (founded in 1886) and The International Brewers' Guild (founded in 1906) merged to form The Institute and Guild of Brewing (now the Institute of Brewing & Distilling ( At about the same time The Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association (formerly The Brewers' Society, founded in 1822) reviewed its objectives and, as The British Beer and Pub Association (, moved to new premises where they could no longer house their library.

    Under the auspices of The Institute and Guild of Brewing, the libraries of the Institute of Brewing, The International Brewers' Guild and the technical reference library of The Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association were brought together. These were supplemented further by books held within the extensive Whitbread Brewing Archive, following the decision of Whitbread to sell its brewing business.

    The IGB advertised for an academic partner who could house and jointly manage the book and journal collections and interest was generated at Oxford Brookes University from both academic and library staff. Key in the project were Dr Katherine Smart through her role as Head of the Brewing Research Group (within the School of Biological and Molecular Sciences), Dr Helen Workman (University Librarian), Tom Martin (Brewer) and Chris Marchbanks (Brewing Technologist). Following acceptance of Oxford Brookes’ proposal by the IGB, from January 2002 the collections were successfully merged, and, in December 2002, the combined library – now named “The National Brewing Library at Oxford Brookes University” was officially opened.

    More recently, the collection was augmented further by the addition of books and journals from the Brewery History Society Library, following its closure and dispersal.

    The National Brewing Library continues to be added to, both by individual donations and an on-going programme of purchase, and comprises more than 8,500 volumes. The National Brewing Library is the most significant English language collection in a single location, of books and journals relating to brewing, other alcoholic beverages and dependent trades. About one quarter of the items are unique to the National Brewing Library and do not appear in the catalogues of The British Library or other major collections.

    The Institute of Brewing & Distilling is pleased to associate the National Brewing Library with Oxford Brookes University. The National Brewing Library works in parallel with the Michael Jackson Collection ("The Beer Hunter") and complements The John Fuller Collection of catering, cookery and gastronomy literature, the Jane Grigson Collection, and other food and gastronomy collections also held in the University Library. These collections support major areas of teaching and research across the University and externally.