Get ready for summer and its thirsty customers!

WITH cold drinks and refreshment very much the order of the day during the summer months, beer and cider can usually be expected to be big business in licensed premises. 

And in 2023 brewers and cider makers very much expect the trend to continue, with lagers, IPAs and fruit ciders among the products tipped for the top. 

“Beer is continuing to gain value share from wine and with the warmer weather bringing outdoor socialising, we expect this to continue being a popular choice amongst those looking for a refreshing drink that pairs well with food,” said Martin Neil, regional on-trade sales director for the east at Tennent’s.

That was echoed by Steven Sturgeon, head of marketing at Belhaven, who said the company sees its IPAs, lagers and golden ales become more popular during warmer weather. 

“We know that during the warmer months consumers will opt for a cooler, more thirst quenching drink, and this is the same for beer styles,” said Sturgeon.

“During the summer, we see our consumers choosing pale and golden beers, such as an IPA or a lager where the keg format offers lots of cold refreshment, but still packs a great flavour and Maltsmiths, brewed at Belhaven Brewery in Dunbar, offers both styles for consumers to enjoy in the sun.”

On the cider side, fruit giant Kopparberg is gearing up for another big summer season. 

The company’s senior customer service manager, Tom Holmes, said although fruit ciders are performing steadily year-round, there is always an uptick on warmer days. 

“It is a common misconception that fruit cider is just for summer, when in fact it performs well all year round,” said Holmes. 

“Whilst there are definitely seasonal spikes in consumption, these are more around social gatherings than purely because of good weather; be that sport or music events, or seasonal events like Christmas, when consumers are looking for refreshing, flavourful and easy to drink options, they often turn to fruit cider first. 

“That being said, weather does play a bigger role in fruit cider consumption than many beer, wine and spirits categories; as temperatures rise and beer gardens fill, consumers seek out refreshment and sessionability and fruit cider served over mountains of ice is a go-to drink for these consumers.”

And while alcoholic beers and ciders will almost certainly account for the majority of sales, companies advised licensees not to neglect the growing no and low-alcohol sector. 

“In addition to offering a range of alcoholic beers and ciders, many consumers continue to seek low and no alcohol options and these should form an important part of an outlet’s offering this summer and into the rest of the year,” said Neil at Tennent’s. 

“There is now a greater mix of low and no alcoholic drinks available and operators should consider offering a choice of both beer and cider.” 

Holmes, at Kopparberg, agreed, stating that the alcohol-free cider category has grown 400% in value over the past five years.

Holmes reckoned 36% of British consumers have tried an alcohol-free alternative to their favourite drink in the past year. 

In order to maximise sales, visibility – on menus, chalkboards or on the bar itself – is likely to be a big factor. 

“In outlets, it’s all about point of sale and making sure that the brands are visible to the consumer,” said Crawford Sinclair, commercial director at Innis & Gunn. 

“[Licensees] should be asking their suppliers and brands for support to help promote the various products they stock that are targeted at summer drinking.”

Holmes, at Kopparberg, agreed. 

He said: “Visibility on the back-bar and the front of fridges for the big-hitters is key for consumers, so they’re able to see the range that is available. 

“76.5% of cider drinkers said the range of cider stocked is important when deciding where to visit in the on-trade.”