About Us

Our History

The history of the IBD is the history of Brewing and Distilling.

Our History

Trusted Knowledge Since 1886

The IBD was originally formed as The Laboratory Club in 1886; a time when the world of brewing and distilling was very different.

The IBD was originally formed as The Laboratory Club in 1886, a time when the world of brewing and distilling was very different.

There were nearly 20,000 licensed breweries in the UK with the two largest being Arthur Guinness in Dublin and William Bass in Burton-on-Trent. Dark, porter style beers had been the most popular for decades but these were beginning to be superseded by lighter, pale ales from Burton, which were easier to drink and quicker to produce – Brettanomyces fermentations were being overtaken by Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. Beer quality was often poor, with tonics and remedies being sold to counteract the side-effects of impurities which included high levels of arsenic.

In distilling, Coffey Stills were being used to produce high quantities of gin and whisky for the few distilleries who had them installed. However, the majority of distilleries still used pot stills. Usher and Dewar had introduced blended whiskies, increasing the reach and popularity of this drink.

Technology-wise, external mash mixers were finding their way into the industry as was sparging and the use of cast iron vessels in the brewhouse instead of wood. Wooden fermenters were beginning to be lined with copper to improve sanitation. Bottling was still done by hand and with no method of forced carbonating, all beers were secondary fermented in the serving vessel.

Science was just beginning to be accepted in the industry, which had long run on the principles of “we’ve always done it this way”. With many chemists being employed in a consulting role, there was friction between them and the brewers who claimed they lacked practical knowledge.

Pasteur had published “Etudes de la Biere” in 1876 and further works by the likes of Hansen, Lintner, Siebel and Tabberer Brown were making their way around the industry.

Timeline of key dates

View our history with the timeline below.


The Laboratory Club was formed.


The Transactions of the Laboratory Club are first published.


The Laboratory Club changed its name to 'The Institute of Brewing' on November 13th.


Gained members from South Africa and New Zealand.


First member from a distillery. The North of England Institute of Brewing was formed.


The Yorkshire Institute of Brewing was formed.


The Institute had grown to 414 members, including its first American. The Midland Institute of Brewing was formed.


The four Institutes were federated and the first 'Journal of the Federated Institutes of Brewing' was published. The Institute’s first staff member was employed as an editor for the journal.


The Institute of Brewing found its first permanent home – two rooms of the Hall of The Brewers Company, allowing it to establish a library/reading room and an office. The Yorkshire Institute became the first Section of the London Institute.


All four institutes were amalgamated into one, with a Scottish Section added. The Institute now had over 1000 members and hosted Lord Kelvin as the guest of honour at the annual banquet.


Malt Analysis Committee publishes first standard methods.


The Operative Brewer’s Guild (a separate organisation) opens in Yorkshire. Its aims are the provision of financial help for redundant brewers, the establishment of a benevolent fund and the provision of a list of vacancies and those seeking employment.


Institute membership declining, with poor finances.


Two new types of membership available: Diploma (requiring 6 years experience and an exam) and Associate (2 years experience and exam). First 'Index of the Journal of the Institute of Brewing' spanning 1887 to 1910 is published.


Membership increased by 200.


In profit.


Authors paid for Journal papers.


1247 members (748 Diploma).


Burton-on-Trent Section opens.


Journal opens up to more practical as opposed to purely scientific papers.


Journal opens up to more practical papers as opposed to purely scientific.


Methods of Analysis update to include SO2 after government limit imposed.


Guild has 743 members.


First female member of the Institute.


'Standard Methods of Malt Analysis for Commercial Purposes' published.


International members now include Australia (21), USA (16), Europe (15), South Africa (14), Canada (9), New Zealand (8), India (8), 'Other' (4).


Coat of Arms awarded.


IoB offices and library destroyed in an air raid (which also destroyed one-third of the year’s hop harvest, stored in a single warehouse).


1481 members.


First diet of examinations.


Examinations undertaken from POW camps.


John S Ford Award begins.


IoB becomes the UK’s representative at the new European Brewers Congress.


IoB opens the Brewing Industry Research Foundation in Lyfell Hall, Surrey, with 80 staff.


IoB offices move to 33 Clarges Street, Piccadilly.


First international section opens in Australia.


'Recommended Methods of Hops Analysis' published.


First JiB paper on Whisky.


Life membership offered for those who have been members for over 50 years.


William Waters Butler Awards begins. IoB has 3365 members.


Central and Southern African section opens.


IoB is part of a new online Brew-Info database containing over 30,000 articles on brewing science.


IoB begins to issue Ferment magazine, containing committee and section reports, upcoming events, education and training information and raw material and technological innovation reports.


First ballot on combining the Institute and the Guild fails to achieve a majority by 0.4%.


IoB starts to offer CPD (Continuous Professional Development) points for attendance at events, symposia and lectures.


Australia and New Zealand Section becomes Asia Pacific Section.


36 worldwide examination centres established.


IoB’s first distilling qualifications offered. 33 Clarges Street is connected to the internet. 41% of members now from outside of the UK. Central and Southern Africa section becomes Africa section.


IoB offers distance learning courses in response to changing work patterns.


Foundation in Brewing course launched for new starters in the industry.


IoB has >1000 examination candidates sitting examinations at 75 centres worldwide.


Institute of Brewers and International Brewers Guild amalgamate to form the Institute and Guild of Brewing.


Institute and Guild of Brewing becomes the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.


The IBD purchases The Beer Academy.


Over 2000 students take IBD exams.


IBD moves to new offices at 44A Curlew Street, London.


Over 3000 students take IBD exams.


Jerry Avis becomes CEO of the IBD.


The Beer Academy becomes The Beer and Cider Academy. First Master Distiller exams undertaken.


The IBD begins offering courses through an online learning environment.


IBD launches a major update to its website and database systems.


Brewers and Distillers by Profession

By Raymond Gale Anderson

As we approached the 125th anniversary of the Laboratory Club, the oldest component of what has become the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, we decided to celebrate the event by commissioning a new history. A book on the history of the Institute of Brewing was already in existence - this covered the period up to 1951 and marked the Institute’s centenary. There had, however, been no published history of the Brewers’ Guild which amalgamated with the Institute in 2001. A fresh look at the circumstances of the birth of what became the IBD, and the totality of events since 1886, was the most attractive if also the most demanding approach. Telling the story of two organisations whose activities overlapped - and sometimes collided - before they hesitantly came together, adds particular challenges. No apology is made for rigorously documenting the sources used in this book, but it is my intention to temper scholarship with humanity and perhaps even humour; to provide insight into the personalities involved.