By Gillian McKenzie
Black Wolf Brewery, the new guise for VC2 Brands’ Traditional Scottish Ales which was unveiled last month, takes its name from the wolf that is said to have alerted the people of Stirling to a Viking invasion, saving the town.
The name was chosen by VC2 in a bid to reflect the Throsk brewery’s Stirlingshire roots.
We’ve got great beers that are attractively packaged with a good story to tell.
It also signified a new era for the firm after Andrew Richardson joined fellow VC2 Brands directors Graham Coull and Carlo Valente on the management team.
Richardson is no stranger to the brewing industry, having previously worked for Courage and Diageo, which included stints on its Guinness brand abroad and at its Seychelles Breweries company.
Since Richardson joined VC2 earlier this year, he said the three directors have made a number of changes to the business – the most visible of which is perhaps the rebranding of the brewery.
“With the name, we thought we needed to reflect where the brewery is,” Ricardson told SLTN.
“We wanted a strong name with strong links to Stirling.
“Black Wolf Brewery works really well. There’s the story of the wolf during the Viking invasion and a black wolf on Stirling’s coat of arms.
“From a marketing point of view we could reflect that on the labels.”
With the new identity in place, VC2 merged its heritage and premium beers from the Traditional Scottish Ales era with five new craft beers and a premium craft lager under the Black Wolf Brewery umbrella.
The craft range comprises Rok IPA, Big Red ruby beer, wheat beer Tundra, Florida Black wild oat stout and blonde beer Gold Digger; the beers are available in cask and bottle formats, with a four-pack available to the off-trade, and Richardson said the craft beers could also be available in keg “in time”.
William Wallace 80/-, Nevis IPA, Glencoe stout and Lomond Gold make up Black Wolf Brewery’s heritage portfolio; the beers are also available in cask and bottle formats, with the pump clips and bottles featuring contemporary new Black Wolf branding.
The brewer’s premium range includes Valente’s Double Espresso beer and 1488 – a whisky beer produced in partnership with Tullibardine distillery; new premium craft lager Coulls is available in bottle and keg format.
While Richardson hasn’t ruled out adding more beers to the Black Wolf line-up, he said the focus for now is on building distribution across all channels, particularly the on-trade and independent off-sales.
And he reckons there’s plenty of scope to grow craft beer sales further – especially with the expected influx of visitors to Scotland this summer, who Richardson reckons will be keen to try Scottish beers.
“There is growing demand around the world for interesting beers,” he said. “People want different products and I think people coming to Scotland this summer will expect good quality Scottish beers.
“You’ve got to be innovative and stand out from the crowd.
“We’ve gone from not launching beer for a while to launching a lot of beers at the same time.
“Craft beer is moving and we need to move with it.
“We’ve got great beers that are attractively packaged with a good story to tell.”