Why is craft beer on the rise in 2019?

Craft beer has continued a steady rise over the last decade, and doesn’t look like it will be going anywhere anytime soon. But what is it that has us so attracted to this specific type of beer? We take a look at the factors behind the incline.

Retro trends are still in

There’s something a bit retro about craft beer – the idea of going back to our roots and how it was before big corporations got into the game. Back in the past, individual breweries were the norm, providing special brews which were only available in the local area. As industrialisation increased and more automated processes were created, brands were able to ship to wider ranges, and eventually worldwide. We’re now pushing back against that with a yearning for nostalgia, which does not seem to be on the wane. Also benefitting from this nostalgia are things like polaroid cameras and vinyl records.

Nationalism is a growing movement

Nationalism states that we should be proud of our country, and show our patriotism by supporting local and national businesses. In other words, buy British! This is allowing a lot of smaller breweries to gain more support across the country. There are extremes of nationalism visible in our politics, but even on a less extreme level, the threat of Brexit and uncertainty is pushing buyers towards local brands.

Customers want variety

It’s tough to go back to just one flavour when you’ve been introduced to the possibility of endless options. While previously, customers may have been brand loyal to just one beer or brewery, now there’s a growing interest in choice. People want to try out new beers every week, and craft beers allow them to do this.

Craft is now mainstream

Another important factor is the idea of availability. Previously, craft beers might have been available directly from the brewery, at local independent pubs, and maybe online. In other words, you had to be a beer aficionado who deliberately wanted to track them down. Now, however, craft is more mainstream and more readily available. Big chains like Wetherspoons have focused on bringing in craft beers to their selections, rotating the choice as well as holding special nights and events on which they are cheaper.

Advertising pullback

It’s getting a bit harder for big brands to reach their customers through advertising – gone are the days when an ad shown during a popular show would reach almost every household in the UK. Many of us are watching streaming services like Netflix without ads, or fast-forwarding on recorded television. On the other hand, small businesses are able to take advantage of the surge of social media marketing and advertising, making themselves better-known. A huge budget is no longer the arbiter of which brand will be the most popular. Now, a clever campaign can be run on a shoestring.

 

6 of the smallest pubs in Britain

When choosing a pub to visit, there are normally a number of factors that come into play. You’ll want to know what the ambiance is like, whether they serve food or not, and what kind of beers they have on tap advertised by their pump clips. It might matter to you that they are family-friendly, or you might even be looking for an establishment that allows dogs. For these six pubs, however, their big draw is the fact that you might not even manage to get inside – thanks to their tiny size.

pump clips in pub

1. The Nutshell

Officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest pub in the UK in the 90s, the Nutshell is located in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. It opened in 1867 and claims some interesting curious collected over the years, from a mummified cat to currency stuck on the ceiling. There’s just enough room for a bar, benches under the windows, and – well – not much else! At 15ft by 7ft, it can hold around 15 customers if they all like each other a lot. It no longer holds the title, which has since been claimed by another venue…

2. The Gardener’s Arms

Only available during John Lewis’ annual summer pop-up rooftop garden on Oxford Street in London, this is the smallest rooftop pub you will find anywhere. It measures just 6ft by 8ft and serves wines, beers, ciders, and cocktails, all with a summer theme. It’s never guaranteed that they will bring it back, so enjoy it if you get the chance!

3. Platform 3

Located on the Claygate train station, Platform 3 is definitely a tight fit. It offers seating for one, or alternatively standing room for three. They serve real ales directly from the cask, chosen from Brightwater Brewery, as well as a selection of snacks. It is only open from Thursday to Saturday, although sometimes bonus days are announced via social media. Despite its tight squeeze, it was voted CAMRA Summer Pub of the Season 2016.

4. The Signal Box Inn

Another pub that claims to be the smallest – this time on the planet – is the Signal Box Inn in Cleethorpes. It is right next to the Cleethorpes Light Railway and was deliberately built in the same scale as the trains. It has five hand pumps serving real ale as well as a beer garden – much needed for patrons to actually have somewhere to sit!

5. The Little Prince

This new pretender to the throne was awarded the UK’s smallest pub title by the people at Guinness in 2016. It measures 6ft 6 by 11ft and can be found in Margate. The owner took over a former sushi bar to create what he called a “novel” pub concept. Clearly it works as it generated a lot of extra publicity for the business to be the holder of a new record!

6. The Dove

Claiming to be the smallest bar in London, The Dove is located in Hammersmith and took over what used to be a coffee house. It measures just 4ft by 7ft 10, which makes it a good contender for the crown against The Little Prince. However, it has not officially yet been recognised.

 

There are a lot of other great contenders for the smallest pub in Britain, with many of them only able to fit 30 or fewer people inside their spaces. So, next time you fancy a quiet, cosy drink, you know where you need to go. Just be warned that you might be getting up close and personal with a stranger if the place isn’t empty!

Europe’s most popular Christmas ales

During the festive season, everyone wants to try as many Christmas-themed products as they can. From mulled wine to mince pies, there’s a product in every category that we only really enjoy during our winter breaks. So, which ales are the winners at Christmas in Europe? Let’s find out.

Affligem Noel

Translated as ‘Christmas Ale’, this beer is a seasonal strong ale from Belgium. It has 9% ABV and looks tawny when poured, with a light brown foamy head which lasts a while. It has a bready malt aroma and flavour, with notes of caramel and toasted grains to put you in mind of warming yourself by the fire with a festive treat.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

This is another Belgian ale which appears a deep mahogany colour when poured, and attracts a light brown head which also lasts. There’s a cookie, caramel, plum, baked apple, and brown sugar mixture in the flavour. Sounds like the perfect Christmas dessert, right? It has a creamy and fizzy texture, with a slight element of festive spice and a bitter finish. Definitely one to have a few hours after the Christmas feast has started to go down.

Gouden Carolus Noel

This is an interesting ale, as it was on hiatus for 35 years before being brought back in 2002. It is only brewed in August, and looks mahogany with a tan froth. The flavour combines roasted caramel and nuts with warmth and spice. You can also detect notes of maple, sugar, port, and even bubblegum, with medium bitterness.

Corsendonk Christmas Ale

Another ale with a rich history, this was originally brewed by monks at the Priory of Corsendonk. However, it was amongst the recipes resurrected by Du Bocq who then decided to launch the ale themselves. It has a slightly bitter citrus flavour with added smokiness, and also has fruity notes with a rich chocolate malt. This will definitely put you in mind of the traditional Christmas pudding. It’s a bit more of a mature and quiet choice than some of the louder ales.

Fantome Hiver

This is a bit of a wild card, as the brewer at Fantome actually changes the recipe of their winter offering very year. Some of the previous incarnations have been heaped with praise, and it’s always exciting to see how they will turn out this time. Usually you will see a clear orange colouring with an off-white head, and the notes can include pepper and pear. This one gets a lot of attention even if only for the novelty factor, and the fact it’s always a one-off for that season only.

There are plenty of ales which are only produced at Christmas, and lots of wintry flavours share similar characteristics. Whatever kind of flavour you prefer, there are bound to be plenty of other brands you can try throughout Europe which will give you the chance to compare and contrast. This makes for a fun exploration of each year’s offerings!

 

 

 

How can I get more customers to my venue?

If you aren’t seeing the footfall that you would like at your pub or bar, then you are probably missing a few tricks that would help to increase the number of customers you get in through the door. The key is not just to entice them in, but also to make the experience so good that they want to come back again. Here are some tips to get you started.

Offer more popular ales

This is a really key point, especially with the way that the market is going right now. Customers want craft ales and beers, as well as a few of the bigger brands who are still popular. If you don’t carry the drinks that they enjoy, or at least the ones they would like to try, then people won’t come back a second time. You can also use the popular ales you serve as a selling point when advertising your venue, so make sure you stay abreast of the latest trends and know what your customer wants.

Make the venue more visually appealing

When a pub looks dingy and old-fashioned inside, not many people will want to come in. At this stage, you’ll have regulars who keep coming back because they barely notice what it looks like anymore, and hardly anyone else.

Clean carpets with a fresh appearance are a good start, or you could go for a wooden or tiled floor. Hang new posters and artworks on the walls to freshen everything up, and make sure there is no peeling wallpaper or chipped paint. Make sure everything is clean, and install softer, bright but not too bright lights to make it look welcoming. Have bright and cheerful pump clips on display so customers can see what to order when they walk in, and ask your staff to wear a simple uniform – such as black trousers and white shirts – so that they look neat and professional.

Freshen your signs

What does the outside of your venue look like? Your business name should be clearly visible on the outside of the building, and you also need signs or menus which let potential customers know why they should come in. Mention the food and drink you serve, your ambiance, and any other selling points you may have, such as a pool table or darts area. Make sure that your signs are bright and cheerful, or at least that they hit key marketing points for the demographic you are targeting. For example, a venue that serves an alt crowd might use strong black, white, and red colours, gothic fonts, and even satanic symbols to draw attention. The important thing is that they look new, clean, and inviting to the right people.

Run some events

Whether you put on live music, invite the community in for a charity drive, or just partner with other pubs for a pub crawl event, it’s important to get some action going. Events like these are more likely to bring people in, and what’s more, they might be customers who have never visited before. This makes it your perfect chance to show them what you have to offer and make them want to come back another time.

 

7 of the world’s most popular ales

Almost everyone likes a good ale. But which ones do we like the most? These are seven of the most popular ales, according to statistics from a recent poll.

Sharp’s Doom Bar

Doom Bar is, understandably, the flagship ale for Sharp’s Brewery, based in Cornwall. It’s named after a sandbank in north Cornwall which is known for being very dangerous. It is brewed at Rock, then bottled in Burton Upon Trent. It has won many awards within the industry.  

Old Speckled Hen

When Morland Brewery launched this ale in 1979, it was named after a battered old MG which drove around the factory with lots of paint chips missing. It was made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the MG factory in Abingdon, right next to the brewery. They have since been bought out by Greene King, and it is now made in Bury St Edmunds – and sold in more than 20 different countries around the world.

Hobgoblin

This characterful brand comes from the Wychwood Brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire. It was the first beer in the UK to have an illustrated label on the bottle, rather than just text. David Cameron met Barrack Obama in 2010, when both were still in their respective positions of leadership, and presented him with 12 bottles of Hobgoblin as a gift, since it is brewed in his constituency.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Launched in Newcastle in 1927, Newcastle Brown is sadly now produced in the Netherlands instead after being purchased by Heineken. In the late 1990s, it was the most widely distributed alcohol in the UK, but is now sold more in the US. Trends have changed and other brands have overtaken it in the UK.

Fullers’ London Pride

In 1959, this ale was first produced by Fuller’s Brewery beside the River Thames. It is still sold worldwide from that same site, in both bottle and cask form. It takes its name from a flower which was seen to bloom on sites that were damaged during the Blitz.

Spitfire

Shepherd Neame is the brewery that launched Spitfire in 1990, from Faversham in Kent. It was created to commemorate the Battle of Britain’s 50th anniversary, and is named after the British aircraft that took part in this battle. It has Protected Geographical Indication status.

Old Crafty Hen

The only brewery to appear twice in the list, Greene King made a good decision to launch this ale in 2008. It was made as a combination of Old Speckled Hen with Old 5X, a now defunct ale from Greene King. It is much stronger than Old Speckled Hen with a flavour that can vary from batch to batch, and is considered the super premium version of the two.

 

It appears that British ales are a real treat for many people around the world, as they are enjoyed in such large measures and exported in huge numbers. Is your favourite ale on this list, or do you like something less well-known?

Brewery industry trends to look for in 2018

The brewery industry is subject to trends, just like any other industry, and keeping up with them is important if you want to stay relevant. These are the trends which industry experts have predicted for 2018 – and beyond.

The rise of choice

Choice is going to be the keyword for 2018. Consumers want to try a lot of different options, so flagship brands will continue to decline in favour of independent labels. In order to keep up, small breweries need to bring out new flavours at least a few times a year and consider doing special limited edition flavours. They should also invest in marketing to ensure that they are stocked in bars, restaurants, pubs, and stores.

High-quality fruit brewing

exotic fruit brewing

Using fruit in barrel-aged and funky beers has been a trend that we saw rising in 2017. Throughout 2018, it will take shape all the more. High-quality fruit and exotic or unusual flavours are going to be key to help brewers to stand out. There is a lot of diversity on offer here, so independents should be creative and really go all-out on their own answers to this trend.

Creation of milkshake IPAs

Adding lactose sugars to already-creamy IPAs is going to create a range of thick and creamy IPAs that are more like milkshakes. This is a real taste sensation and a huge trend that breweries should not ignore. Customers will be looking for oats, vanilla, and high-pectin varieties of fruit along with fruity hops. The jury is out on how long this trend will last, but initial forays suggest that consumers will be going wild for these new blends.

Visual identities

Brands are also expected to focus more strongly on their visual identities this year. This means strong and bold designs which will tell consumers everything they need to know about the brand from looking at labels and marketing. Beer selections are constantly rotating, so breweries need to stand out. They can’t simply allow a plain design to advertise the beer and let the taste speak for itself. If the branding isn’t strong, consumers won’t choose the beer – and they will never experience the taste. Breweries are expected to lean more heavily on artwork, and bring in artists to the creative design process much more than previously.

Retro callbacks

With all of these new beer types on the market, some breweries are also leading a trend that takes us back to retro basics. Creating a strong, simple beer that harks back to early days work in a brewery’s favour. Having new styles as an adaptation of an “original” flavour will give consumers a reference point that they understand, as well as creating a strong foundation for brand identity.

6 tips for establishing yourself in the brewery industry

The brewery industry is a tough one, with a lot of players currently jumping into the market. It seems to be a golden age for craft beer, but that means everyone wants to get in on the action. If you want to survive and establish yourself well, you will need these six tips to get you through.

1. Industry experience

You need to know the science of making beer, the exact processes required, how to market yourself, what local, national, and international regulations you need to follow, and how much it will cost to establish yourself. You also need to have that capital, which may mean raising investments – and no one is going to invest in you if you don’t know what you are doing.

2. Be an entrepreneur

Although breweries may be a specific category of business, they are still a business like any other. That means you need to go into this with the attitude of being an entrepreneur. You have to have a professional approach, confidence in your own abilities as a leader, and the strength of mind to know your weaknesses. You have to run your brewery like any professional business – with accounting, marketing, employees, partnerships, and so on.

3. Have goals

You are much more likely to succeed if you have specific goals for your business. Set milestones and goals that you need to reach by certain dates, and then work out a plan for how you can get there. Work backwards to set out when you need to achieve each part of your plan. In order to reach the goal of getting your beer into a local pub, there are many steps required – like meeting the pub owner, creating samples, perfecting your process, right the way back to coming up with your concept.

4. Build a concept

Ah, yes – the concept. This is so important if you are going to stand out. Come up with a concept that will define your brand and the beers that you make. For example, certain craft breweries have a quirky image that allows them to name their beers with spectacular and weird phrases. Some breweries are based around an animal theme, or a mystical creature, or so on. This concept will be a strong part of your identity and it should tie in to your flavours. Imagine you are creating Mexican-inspired beer: your concept might be linked to Dia De Los Muertos celebrations or other Mexican cultural touchstones.

5. Adapt quickly

Make sure you are able to adapt to the market as it grows and changes rapidly. You can’t learn marketing techniques and then keep using them for three years without any changes or updates. The market changes, the techniques change, and you have to keep up. It’s even better if you can get ahead of the crowd.

6. Be visible

Make sure that your products are as visible as possible. Invest in pump clips, have an Instagram account, give out t-shirts and enamel pin badges, put up banners in pubs if they allow you, and so on. Make sure that as many people as possible can discover your products right from the start. This will build an audience and create fans who want to buy your beers.

How can pump clips help market your beverage?

Click here to order pump clips with your design

Click here to order pump clips with your design

Pump clips printed with your beverage name and logo are an essential for all brands, whether fully established or indie. Even if you only have one establishment serving your beverage, you need a pump clip – and here’s why they are so important for marketing.

Increase sales

The first point you need to be aware of is that a pump clip will directly increase sales at the pump. Customers like to look at the pump clips to get an idea of what is on offer, and they may not know what they want to drink before they take a look. They will then choose from the brand names they can see, allowing them to pick something that sounds good to them.

Sometimes, a customer may even stand at the bar with an idea of what they want, see your pump clip, and change your mind. So long as you have carefully considered your brand name and beverage name, the pump clip will do the job of converting customers who would be in your ideal target group. This will directly increase sales at the bar, even without staff explaining your brand or what your beverage tastes like.

Of course, they can also help to increase your sales – but we’ll talk about that later!

Increase brand recognition

Especially for an indie or up-and-coming brewery, it is very important to get some brand recognition going. This is all about increasing your exposure to customers and getting them to recognise your logo and beverage name from pump clips.

The more they see your pump clips, the more they might be tempted to give your drink a try. After all, not everyone is brave enough to try something new the first time they see it. It might take a few tries for them to be convinced. What’s more, just having that recognition in the first place might convince them that you are worth a try. They know your name, have seen you around, and know that you are a popular option – so they decide to order a drink.

Brand recognition can be an important factor in conversion, particularly for consumers who are a little more nervous about trying something new. Having that name printed in front of them, rather than simply said out loud, also means they have the chance to look you up on social media or on your brand website to follow you and find out more for the future.

Start conversations

A pump clip is also a conversation starter between customers and staff. Having seen the clip, a customer might be interested to know more, and they will ask staff behind the bar about the origin of your beverage or what they think about it.

Opening up a conversation allows staff to then go ahead and sell your drink. They will almost always talk about it in positive terms no matter what their personal preference – their job, after all, is to ensure that their establishment does a good turnover and sells as many drinks as possible. A recommendation as well as full details about the drink is sure to follow when a customer asks a question.

There are lots of ways to market your beverages, but when customers are standing at the bar, a pump clip is one of the best options. It helps to convert customers, increases your brand recognition, and allows bar staff to offer recommendations about your brand. All of that adds up to more sales, more customers, and more people interested in finding out more about you as a brewer or brewery.