In the last ALE we bemoaned the shortage of locally brewed ales in the area's pubs. To get another perspective on this sad state of affairs, we spoke to one of those local brewers, Richard Naseby from Milton Brewery.

Richard founded the brewery in 1999 and its beers have an excellent reputation; Pegasus, the flagship best bitter, was East Anglian Beer of the Year in 2003. The main problem for Richard is that the vast majority of local licensees simply can't take his beer even if they wished to. Many are tied to a brewery like Greene King or a big pub company like Punch who restrict the ales their tenants can buy. Even those pubs which claim to be free houses in many cases aren't - they're owned by some pub company or other. Out of the 109 pubs in Cambridge, Richard can think of three, possibly four, where the licensee is genuinely able to choose which beers they want.

Richard is heavily involved with the Small Independent Brewers Association (SIBA) who have been able to strike deals with some pub chains, notably Enterprise, to get better distribution for their members' beers. The downside is that the "middlemen" in the deal take a significant cut so that the brewer gets a low price and landlord pays a high one - but its better than nothing.

In the rural areas around Cambridge there are more proper free houses. However, there's also a lot of competition from other brewers chasing trade. The increasing tendency for pubs to open their own mini-breweries is making the cake even smaller. Although new breweries continue to spring up, Richard feels saturation point can't be far away.

As well as pubs, Milton supply to some Cambridge colleges, a few pubs and to the Bacchanalia off-licences. They also have an advantage over many brewers in having three pubs of their own - the Coalheavers Arms in Peterborough and two in London. Richard would dearly love to buy a pub in Cambridge but so would a lot of other people.

Milton also do reciprocal deals with other small brewers whilst beer festivals are a significant outlet. Richard doesn't sell much ale through beer agencies, mainly because of the problems in getting his casks back.

Something which Richard is keen to pursue is helping new outlets for real ale. For instance Milton supplied the equipment which allows the ADC Theatre in Cambridge to serve cask beer - and all that beer is from Milton. Richard has a number of targets in mind.

We drinkers can of course help Richard and his fellow local brewers by drinking their beers when we find them and asking licensees to obtain them if they can. Get to work!