Peter Austin was the pioneer of the microbrewery. Born in Edmonton, north London, Peter’s family was closely involved in the brewing industry and he grew up holding brewing jobs at several breweries including: Friary, Holroyd and Healy in Guilford, Morrells in Oxford, and Hull Brewery.
Austin had a few beer industry influences in his life with his great Uncle owning a brewery on the south coast in Christchurch, and his father working for the main beer equipment supply corporation, Pontifex. Despite his involvement in the beer world, Peter Austin’s first love was not beer, but boats. He constantly sailed in Poole harbor, and joined P&O from the Conway, but contracted TB and was deemed unfit to fight in the second world war, so he was sent home from Australia. This is where he transitioned to the beer world.
Peter Austin worked in several other breweries from 1945 to 1975 when he left being the head brewer at Hull Brewery to move to Hampshire. In 1977, Peter accepted an offer to work with Terry Jones and Richard Boston, and construct a miniature brewery in an old cattle byre in Herefordshire.
Merely one year later, in 1978, Peter founded the Ringwood Brewery located in what used to be a bakery, with his business partner David Walsh. The Strong Ale Old Thumper winning the Champion Beer of Britain award in 1988 put Ringwood and the idea of microbrewing on the map.
Less than a decade later, in 1986, Peter Austin and David Welsch moved out of their first Ringwood Brewery location to a larger site that was once occupied by Tunks Brewery. TThis officially put Ringwood on the map as a significant business that could generate 80 barrels of beer per week for pubs all through the south and south west.
He eventually sold his share to Welsch, and spent the next decade assisting in the establishment of around 40 new breweries all over Britain. However, his greatest impression on the beer industry occurred in America, where 74 breweries developed while exercising his brewing system. Today there is an incredible amount of craft breweries with thousands across the world and a number that is ever-growing.
Peter William Austin died in 2014 at 92 years old, leaving behind four children, two step children, and the greatest choice and abundance of craft beers there has ever been.