Before canals and railways developed as a major transport network, it was seldom profitable to transport beer inland over more than a few miles. In country towns and villages, therefore, beer would be brewed either by a small 'common' brewery that supplied a handful of pubs and private customers, or in an even smaller brew-house attached to the pub itself. Many families also brewed their own beer. However, large-scale mass-production did make sense in the major urban centres - and above all in London, with its ever-growing, thirsty population. Over the course of the 18th century, a handful of London breweries began to boast plants, outputs and distribution systems far greater than anything previously in existence. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.