Brewers put quality ahead of ‘category’

Great taste named the key to success in year with bumper beer potential

 The beer category is said to be “evolving rapidly” as consumers are “discovering quality beer”.
• The beer category is said to be “evolving rapidly” as consumers are “discovering quality beer”.

BETWEEN the big brands, world beers and the emerging craft beer segment, publicans are spoilt for choice when it comes to purchasing beer.

But, regardless of the style of beer, brewers agreed that quality will be the key factor when it comes to keeping customers happy.
Petra Wetzel of Glasgow-based brewery West said today’s beer drinkers are “more discerning” than they have been in the past.
“Quality and provenance are becoming the two main draws in the premium beer category,” she said.
“It’s no longer enough to just have a stylish looking product; people are interested in where their product comes from, and what exactly it is made from.”
The growing consumer interest in quality has been key to Edinburgh beer firm Innis & Gunn’s inroads into the on-trade, according to national account manager Jeremy Houston.
“Consumers are continuing to move away from mainstream world and traditional beers and lagers into specialty, more local offerings,” said Houston.
It’s not all about craft brands, however.
Ian Risby of Wells and Young’s said that while craft beer is “the new buzz word of the moment” larger brands remain vital to the category.
“Looking at smaller brewers and brands, their share grew from 3.5% of value to 4.5% in the last 12 months, however, there is certainly still an important place on the bar for big brands which continue to innovate,” said Risby.
Ian Moss, of Czech brewer Budvar, said the traditional definitions of beer are falling by the wayside as the category enjoys “a great renaissance”.
“The beer industry is going through this revolutionary time that the old certainties and the old definitions have been swept away,” said Moss, adding that while beer categories remain “ill defined” there is a trend towards operators considering the quality of the beer, rather than the category.
Acknowledging that the beer market is “evolving rapidly” Tim Clay of Miller Brands said these changes support the view that customers are “discovering quality beer”.
And he reckoned that this year’s Commonwealth Games and World Cup “offer a fantastic opportunity” for publicans to grow their beer sales.
David McGowan, of Guinness parent firm Diageo, agreed that this summer’s big events present a considerable opportunity for the Scottish trade.
“Savvy landlords should be looking ahead already and thinking of ways to promote their pub as the place to catch the action,” said McGowan.
“It is important for publicans to differentiate their outlets from the competition by creating an attractive offer and environment which provides a unique and memorable on-trade experience.”
Justin Wylde of wholesaler Matthew Clark highlighted Budweiser’s World Cup sponsorship deal and Carlsberg’s sponsorship of the England team as having the potential to “raise the profile of such beers and encourage pub culture”.
Wylde expects international visitors arriving for the Commonwealth Games will be “keen to try local produce and drinks” but also predicts that world beers will play their part, with some tourists opting for familiar brands.
“2014 is definitely the year for beer,” he added.