MORE than 400 beers are available to buy in York, a huge survey of the city's pubs has revealed.
Dozens of enthusiasts and researchers battled through the rain on Saturday to take part in the second York Beer Census, to gauge the variety and price of beers being sold in the city.
The returned forms are still being processed, but the latest total shows 422 different beers available from 188 pubs or bars. Results from another 25 bars are still to be confirmed.
The results mean that while health officials would advise against it, drinkers could choose a different beer every day for a year - and for another two months beyond.
The number of real ales has risen by 35 since the last such survey two years ago, reflecting the boom in York's beer scene and in the number of breweries in Yorkshire, which has risen rapidly in recent years.
The census was organised by the city’s branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), The Press and York-based academic Dr Ignazio Cabras, an expert on the economic impact of pubs in their communities.
Dr Cabras hopes the survey, combined with similar exercises in other cities and in future years, can be used to help measure the impact of national policies and tax changes on the industry, and to measure how the price of beer varies between neighbourhoods and cities.
When the first York Beer Census was held in 2012, it was pitched as a contest with Norwich, which carried out a similar survey the same day, but Camra has moved to promote cooperation rather than competition. Further surveys will be carried out later this year in Norwich again, Nottingham and Sheffield.
In 2012, York had 247 different real ales, but the 2014 figure is already 282 and could rise further.
This year the surveyors also counted keg beers, including those from major national and international brewers, and also by some smaller brewers who have begun using keg instead of - or as well as - cask.
The distinction is the source of debate among many enthusiasts, as real ale continues to ferment in the cask, while keg beers have gas added for carbonation, to the dismay of real ale purists.
The keg beer tally is currently 140, with more results to come.
Lucy Buykx from York Camra said: "I'm delighted to have been part of York Beer Census team again this year and am absolutely thrilled with the results - they show that York is better than ever for beer lovers.
"More than 200 pubs to survey in a single day is a monumental task, especially in the rain, but our volunteers did us proud so a huge thanks to them and to the York Brewery Club for our HQ."
Dr Cabras, a reader in economics, business and management at Newcastle Business School in Northumbria University, said: "The Beer Survey has been an exceptional event and an invaluable exercise to evaluate the beer scene in our city. The information about the type, range and prices of beers available within pubs in York today will be now compared against the same type of data collected by the Beer Census 2012.
"It appears there has been a significant increase in the number of real ales available among pubs in York in the past two years. If these preliminary results will be confirmed, then there are about three different real ales every square mile. This means more choice in our locals and more opportunities to try something new and different.
"It is also a sign of the good health of our local brewers who have growth in number and innovative ales, which again are supplied to in our pubs."
He said more analysis may help reveal the impact national policies were having on the industry.
Yesterday's event was supported by York Brewery, which provided a base for the organisers and free beer and sandwiches for the volunteers.
- The Press will report on the price data from the survey, once final results are confirmed.