The number of new breweries opened in the UK has increased by 55% in 2016 to a record high of 520, according to a report of accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.

An increase from 336 new stores in 2015, UHY Hacker Young was reported as saying that more and more entrepreneurs are starting their own craft beer businesses as the segment continues to build its position as an increasingly important part of the drinks industry.

Prominent craft beer company BrewDog opened its 18th overseas branch in February, its first in the US. According to UHY Hacker Young, recent major acquisitions of craft beer companies by mainstream drinks giants have made it easier for entrepreneurs to attract funding to expand their breweries.

Larger brewers have been willing to pay relatively high prices for independent brands that have proved they can deliver high sales growth and achieve premium pricing.

Among the recent high-profile takeovers of craft breweries are AB InBev's acquisition of Camden Town Brewery and SAB Miller's purchase of Meantime.

Large drinks companies have been concerned by slow growth of their mainstream brands and the failure of their own premium brands to achieve as high price points as independent brewers.

"Both supermarkets and pubs realise they are going to lose sales if they do not make way for some craft brands."

Recent figures have indicated craft beer now accounts for between 8% and 9% of the total beer sold in licensed premises in the UK. However, even that huge market share is some way behind the 21% market share that the US craft beer industry has achieved, with sales of $22bn.

UHY Hacker Young's partner James Simmonds said: “Craft beer has proved it is no flash in the pan. Both supermarkets and pubs realise they are going to lose sales if they do not make way for some craft brands.”

“So far, the pricing discipline of cult beer brands has held steady; they are have been largely untouched by the supermarket wars that have savaged margins elsewhere in the food and drinks sector.”

“Recent high-profile takeovers by larger breweries have given entrepreneurs and their backers proof of what can be achieved and proper benchmarks of how craft breweries can be valued. It is a long way from the cottage industry of a decade ago.”

UHY Hacker Young added that the Small Brewers’ Relief schemes, which provide a reduced rate of alcohol duty to brewers producing below 60,000 hectolitres per year, provides a helping hand to new entrants into the market.

According to the firm, the reduced rate should be expanded to higher volume start up breweries as well.