The Brewers Journal is the professional magazine for the beer brewing industry. It is a brand new bi-monthly publication designed to give UK breweries, distributors, and suppliers an essential insight into the issues that matter to them, and also how to take advantage of this growing market.
If you have a database of customers, former customers, mailing lists, information on current or former employees; or indeed another database with information on individuals, then you will need to adhere to GDPR.
The regulations in brief
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU wide regulation that extends the scope of the UK’s Data Protection rules.
Becoming law on 25th May 2018, failure to comply with the regulation could incur hefty fines of up to EUR 20 million, or 4% of a company’s turnover, whichever is higher.
Greater rights of anyone that’s on any of your databases or computer systems
Individuals, such as your customers, prospective customers, former employees, interviewees etc., will have many more rights, including: the right to have data held on them erased, if it’s no longer relevant to the purpose it was originally collected; to be able to access and correct data; to be informed if there is an issue (for example the loss of data); the right to restrict processing (for example not to receive direct marketing); and to have compensation if they have suffered damage due to an infringement of the GDPR.
Legal perspective: be prepared for individuals to exercise their rights; only hold data on individuals that you really need to
Consent to be on your databases
After the introduction of the GDPR, where data is processed on the basis of consent, consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. It requires a statement or clear affirmative action. Effectively, consent requires ‘opt-in’ rather than ‘opt-out’.
If you have already obtained consent to certain types of processing from your employees or current customers, then this may not be an issue.
But, this could prove to be a thorny issue for any brewer that has an active marketing campaign that relies on “opt-out” consent as a basis for processing, as both former customers and prospects, including any databases that you buy-in, must now ‘opt-in’ to receiving communication from you.
Legal perspective: start changing your documentation on sales and marketing material now to opt in. Take appropriate advice on the wording. Instead of relying on consent to process personal data, review whether another basis for processing is appropriate.
Keeping the data safe – governance and accountability
Businesses are responsible for how they collect, store and use personal data and must demonstrate that they are complying with the data processing principles. Larger companies must keep detailed records of their processing activities. You must give more information to individuals about how you will handle their data and must also carry out impact assessments when using new technology or high risk processing. Staff training is essential to ensure businesses comply with their governance and accountability obligations under GDPR.
Legal perspective: pay special attention to sales and marketing department, HR and anyone that interviews staff and may receive CVs and the like – ensure that they are appropriately trained in the new requirements of GDPR.
Data breaches and mismanagement
The new regulation is particularly stringent around loss of data, unauthorised disclosure or access to data. You should therefore review the way in which you handle data to ensure there is no possibility of data being mishandled, misused or lost.
Any cases of breach of data where a breach is likely to “result in a risk for the rights and freedoms of individuals” must be reported to the Information Commissioner.
Legal perspective: check where personal data is held and the risks e.g. make sure your sales staff don’t keep unencrypted databases on their laptops.
You now need to document what personal data you hold, including the source of data, who has access to it, and where it has been shared. This could, for example, include marketing agencies employed to direct mail customers on your behalf.
Legal perspective: carry out a data audit
Your employees and HR
The same issues apply to your employees. Whilst most records, such as payroll will be centralised, a lot of other data is decentralised, and often unstructured such as recruitment records, recruitment consultant resumes, appraisals and disciplinary reviews.
Legal perspective: look at the data held and possibly centralise it and consider deleting old records that are no longer required.
With data breaches set to become increasingly costly, both in terms of financial penalties and reputational damage, creating a culture of taking data protection compliance seriously could go a long way to minimising the risks of falling foul of the regulations.
Our recommendation is to get ahead of the game now by carrying out an audit on the data you hold, and the way that data is stored and managed. Rectifying any issues now before the regulation comes into force could pay dividends down the line.
John Keeling, the former head brewer and now global ambassador, has been adorned with the ‘Silver Tankard’ Lifetime Achievement Award by SIBA.
Buster Grant, chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), commented: “John Keeling’s commitment and passion for quality beer is evident to anyone that meets him, and his work for one of the UK’s most iconic brewers over the last 40 years has seen him dust off the brewing records and revive historic recipes as well as look to the future, inviting some of Britain’s finest independent brewers to join him at the mash tun.
“A fervent defender of the lunchtime pint, the winner of this year’s lifetime achievement award is not only an extremely worthy recipient, but someone we’d recommend you grab a beer with.”
The award could have marked a SIBA double-whammy for Fuller’s on the Thursday of the Liverpool event (15th March) however members of the body voted against proposed changes to its membership charter.
The motion that which was voted down by three votes (66 to 63) had suggested raising the body’s membership threshold from its current 200,000hl to 437,340hl.
As a result, breweries such as St Austell and Fuller’s are unable to join the body.
Commenting on his award, Keeling said: “I’ve dedicated my life to brewing great beer – and I’ve loved every second of it – so being recognised for doing something you enjoy is a double delight.
“I’d like to think that in some small way I’ve helped and inspired a number of the craft brewers who are producing such interesting beers today.
“It’s over 40 years since I first set foot in a Brewery and some 37 years since I joined Fuller’s. Reg Drury, the legendary former Fuller’s Head Brewer, was instrumental in my success and I hope, and am confident, that I have passed the same degree of knowledge and passion on to Georgina Young and the next generation of brewers at Fuller’s.”
Alex Smithies is a name that will long resonate with fans of Huddersfield Town A.F.C. The goalkeeper’s heroics ensured The Terriers were promoted to the the second tier of English football in the play-off final of 2012.
However it was scoring them, rather than attempting to prevent them, that carried Huddersfield past the finish line when they defeated Sheffield United 8-7 in a penalty shoot-out thanks to Smithies’ winning strike. It was the longest shoot-out ever to be contested in the League One play-offs.
The following July, Huddersfield were one month away from kicking off their second term in the Football League Championship under the guidance of manager Mark Robins. The same month, Russell Bisset launched a business he called Northern Monk.
Fast-forward four and half years and Northern Monk is one of the UK’s most respected breweries. It’s also making serious impressions on the global stage, becoming one of the Top 100 best new breweries in the world at the prestigious RateBeer Awards.
And for Brian Dickson, head brewer at the Leeds-based business, his beloved Huddersfield Town are doing pretty damn well, too. The team he is so passionate about are holding their own in The Premier League, the top tier of the English game
“I’d love to speak at your event, I just need to think to discuss other than Huddersfield!” he replied when yours truly asked asked if he’d deliver a talk at the recent Brewers Lectures event held in Leeds at Northern Monk’s very own venue, The Old Flax Store.
His love for football is real, very real. But for Dickson, so is his commitment and passion for making the best beer he possibly can.
“Being recognised by RateBeer was a huge delight and a shock. It matters a lot because we’ve put our heart and soul into this, but I don’t want it to stop there,” he explains. “We are in great company with UK breweries like Beavertown and Magic Rock in that Top 100 list. But sustained success would mean seeing Northern Monk beers in as many fridges and on as many taps as something like Gamma Ray or Highwire is on such a regular basis.
He adds: I’m under no illusions either, though. It’s up to us to ensure our beers have the quality and consistency to deserve those taps and shelf spaces. And I think we’re there, or at least very, very close to it.”
Dickson and the 30-strong team at Northern Monk are suitably proud of their output but despite the diverse range the brewery puts out, its with numbers like the 4.1% Session IPA Eternal and its 5.4% American Pale Ale, Faith, that you sense they are truly at ease.
“We are happy and proud with those beers. They’re the house beers on the brewery floor and they’re helping drive our canned growth, too,” he says.
Dickson glows when he explains that distributors such as James Clay and Cave Direct are bringing them into their core offering, while Eternal continues to enjoy great success through its sales in supermarkets such as Marks & Spencer and Morrisons.
“Working with supermarkets is a welcome part of what we do,” explains Russell Bisset. “Those accounts make up around 10-15% of what we do and we’ve turned down opportunities to work with others because we want to ensure we’ve putting out the best beer we can, and we have room to grow within those arrangements, too.”
Bisset states that Morrisons is the cheapest place to buy Northern Monk beer. And it’s something he holds as a badge of honour.
“We want our beer to be available. We want people to enjoy it and not find it prohibitive. If you can find it in a supermarket then that’s surely a good thing,” he adds. And there’s something to be said for a beer like Eternal being available in a four-pack, too. It is something you can enjoy several of. That’s not something you could say about our Strannik or Death stouts.”
Upcoming expansion is also on the cards for Northern Monk.
The brewery’s main facility, located on the same estate bang opposite Leeds Brewery, houses four 50hl and two 100hl fermenting vessels. Its 50hl brewhouse takes two turns to fill up one of the larger tanks but come October, that will responsible for double turns at least four days a week.
The brewery has lined up eight additional 100hl tanks, investment that will enable the brewery to output 12 double brews a week, producing four times the amount of beer in the process.
“We started by looking at the addition of two more tanks, then four more tanks, but we took a step back. We’ve been through it at the Old Flax Store and each time you make that decision, you have to break into your pipes again and also the drain the system, then its the flooring issue and more utilities,” says Dickson (above left). “Instead, we’ve taken the step to expand in a big way and grow into it. I don’t think we’ll fill the capacity off the cuff but we’re presently in a position where we are selling everything we make so the opportunity is obviously there.”
Dickson attributes the consistency Northern Monk has achieved with beers like Eternal, Heathen, New World IPA and Faith for the constant increase in demand. But he also pinpoints the feverish reaction for its Patrons Project line of beers as a key catalyst, too.
“They’ve gone off the scale. More than we expected they would and I feel we have a strong record on those, now. We still experiment, we play around and have lots of opportunities to try things out. And we’ll continue to do that, but we won’t compromise on quality when we do, either,” he adds.
65% of Northern Monk’s output is now in canned format. Something that will no doubt increase once a new canning line arrives later this year. While they can currently output 2,000 cans per hour on a good day, that’ll go to anywhere between 6,000 and 12,000 when the new kit is up and running.
The aforementioned Patrons Project beers primarily reach their adoring fans in this format, with most produced at the smaller brewing facility on the ground floor at The Old Flax Store. Some IPAs in this series, warrant housing in one of the 100hl tanks at the main site though, such is the demand.
“That’s the beauty of having two sites,” says Dickson. “We’re in a position where we can offer a core and offer specials, too. Hopefully we’ll always be in a position where we can offer both and I think you need to. You can’t guarantee the success of specials forever, so you need a consistent core. And equally, tastes towards your core can change so you need to be able to offer something new and fresh.”
Expansion with the addition of the new FVs will free up some tank space at The Old Flax Store, which means more Lagers and greater experimentation within its Imperial Stout offering. Consumer reaction to its latest release, the 12% Death, will see variants released in the future.
“We want to sit this beer on coffee beans, sour cherries, cacao nibs. I think it’ll give it an extra dimension and something different to the addition of, say, cold brew coffee in the tank or fruit puree,” says Dickson. “Not like there’s anything wrong with those, of course”
Dickson would know. It’s 10% Strannik Imperial Stout has taken on a life of its own at Northern Monk. Sticky Toffee, Black Forest and Campfire Marshmallow are also versions that have gone down well with the paying public and, according to Dickson, cater for the demand for the on-trend ‘pastry stouts’.
Russell Bisset speaking at the Brewers Congress in November, 2017.
And it’s from speaking to Bisset (above), you get the impression that he’s happy with the variety of beers Northern Monk put out, but its nailing quality that it his ultimate goal, and one he has for the collective industry at large.
“I do think the UK has ground to make up with consistency across range of styles. But I will temper that by saying beer is also all about experience, too. So I’ve been blown away with something in the US when you’re in the middle of NYC or in country road in Vermont,” he explains. “Still, nobody can come close to somewhere like Hill Farmstead when it comes to consistency of styles. Here in the UK we tend to be doing certain styles very, very well. But not all.”
He adds: “I think that has something to do with the maturity, too. The scene is more mature there and many breweries stemmed from strong home brewing backgrounds. They often enjoy the best direct sales opportunities, too. Which makes it a lot easier to feed back into QA and QC sooner rather than later.”
“We’ve drained five or six beers in the last year, and that has a big impact on the bottom line but you need to do it. However I truly believe a positive driver for the bottom line is looking at that US approach to taprooms and direct sales. You speak to successful breweries. They don’t want to replicate their brewery. They want to replicate their taprooms on a regional basis. So if you can do it, do it.”
And in recent years Northern Monk have adopted that can-do attitude. Last year saw the addition of Colin Stronge, formerly of Buxton Brewery to its ranks. A coup for any brewery and one that Blisset feels shows that people of all experiences are buying-in to their vision.
“We are passionate about beer but we needed more experience. He gives us 15 years experience.
When we set out in the early days it was Brian and I. We had little experience but we set out to make some of the best beer in the UK,” he says. “Call us naive, but that’s been at the core of what we wanted to do and I think we are getting recognised now.”
He adds: “We don’t want to look back now. We’ve talked internally about the pride of growing and each step in the business has been met by an increase in quality, which seems quite rare. We’ve gone through 1000% growth since the early days but the beer has only got better. We will continue as we are. We won’t look down and we won’t look back. We set out to be a progressive Northern brewery and want to ensure we remain that. And that means being honest to ourselves and honest to everyone else. Let the beer, and the story behind it, do the talking.”
14 of the finest female brewers are collaborating with Heriot-Watt students and lecturers to brew a kettle sour beer that will showcase the very best in brewing.
The project is spearheaded by Jenn Merrick, formerly head brewer at Beavertown Brewery and founder of community-based brewery Earth Station.
The collaboration will be hosted by Katie McCain, brewer at London’s Pressure Drop Brewing and welcomes brewers from Truman’s Brewery, Cloudwater, Wiper & True, Fuller’s and Burnt Mill among others.
These brewers will work with the next generation of female brewers from Heriot-Watt University to combine the seasonal fruits, herbs and botanicals to produce the beer.
Those present on the day will be working in partnership to decide its flavour profile, final recipe, and name.
Commenting on the collaboration, Heriot-Watt assistant brewing professor Rachel Sutherland said:
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our female students to collaborate with some of the leading female figures within the craft beer industry.
“Beer has, throughout history, been crafted by women. Our students are proudly upholding this tradition, showing the next generation what they can look forward to.
“There’s a real community in craft beer and our kettle sour collaboration is testament to that – and definitely not one to be missed at any of the craft beer festivals happening across the UK.”
Greg Wells, founder of We Are Beer, the company behind the London, Edinburgh and Bristol Craft Beer Festivals, who commissioned the project, commented: “We identified that 35% of our festival attendees were female and this is growing year on year.
“We believe most people still perceive ‘beer’ as quite masculine, but in actuality, that is changing dramatically, which is good for this fast-growing sector and something we’re striving to push forward.
“We want to profile the incredible female talent and influence on modern brewing by creating a collaborative beer with past, present and future female brewers from across the industry.”
The beer will be available at each of the craft beer festivals being hosted in Edinburgh (25th-28th May 2018), London (3rd-5th August 2018), and Bristol (14th-16th September 2018) and will be released in limited edition small pack.
The full brewing team on the project is:
· Jenn Merrick – Earth Station – Founder
· Katie McCain – Pressure Drop – Brewer
· Sophie de Ronde – Burnt Mill – Brewer
· Kath Stratford – Howling Hops – Brewer
· Alix Shaw – The Five Points – Lead Packaging Manager
· Charlotte Cook – Truman’s Brewery – Co-lead Brewer
· Rachel Sutherland – Assistant Professor at Heriot-Watt. (Formerly Sensory & Quality Manager of Innis & Gunn)
· Margaux Huismann – Heriot-Watt Alumni and current PHD student at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling studying the role of dry hopping on the flavour, aroma, and haze characteristics on Scottish craft beers
· Dr Dawn Maskell – Head of International Centre for Brewing & Distilling (ICBD) at Heriot-Watt
· Seven Heriot-Watt students on the undergraduate and master’s degree courses
Conversely, kettle sours are much more straightforward to produce and their dwell times are pretty much that of any standard beer. That’s not to say kettle sours don’t come without their own particular challenges and this article will discuss my approach to producing this style, rather than the more complex barrel aged sour beers mentioned above. I first tasted a kettle sour, or simple sours as I refer to them, when I was in Philadelphia a few years back. The first impressions of the kettle sour I tasted were clean, sour and relatively one-dimensional, and I guess this is where the term simple sour comes from. On my return I did my research and attempted to brew our own kettle sour.
The basis of a kettle sour is that a standard, unhopped wort is produced. The reason the wort needs to be unhopped is because lactic acid bacteria are sensitive to the iso-alpha-acids in hops, depending on the strain to varying degrees. The wort is then inoculated with lactic acid bacteria for 24-48 hours, until the desired pH is reached. The beer is then boiled to kill off the lactic acid bacteria and is then finished off like a normal beer by the process of a standard fermentation.
The method of souring the initial wort can be approached from different angles. A common approach is to hang a bag of malt in the wort which will have natural lactic acid bacteria on the husks of the grains. I was very hesitant to employ this method, as I was concerned that the inoculum of lactic acid bacteria would be too low and this would enable wort bacteria to join the party. Another popular method is to simply pitch in a sizeable quantity of good quality natural yoghurt! While these methods achieve a degree of success for some brewers, the lack of control over the process is not ideal in a brewery like ours.
My preferred method of souring the wort is to pitch a decent size pure inoculum of lactic acid bacteria. This ensures rapid acidification, greatly reducing the risk of wort bacteria joining the party. We initially propagated at the brewery using ‘Homebrew’ vials as starter cultures. Unfortunately, we often found the starter cultures to be pre-infected with yeast and the wort would sour but also ferment in the kettle. This reduced the overall ABV in the finished product. I decided to then buy in pitchable volumes from the USA from a reputable company, which we have found to be the best approach to producing a sour wort quickly.
The second dilemma we came across was the strain of bacteria to employ. We initially used Lactobacillus Brevis. However, this strain is the predominate strain which infects standard beers! It gave us a good flavour profile and an assertive sourness; but I really didn’t feel comfortable with having that strain around the brewery, despite us having robust QA and procedure to sterilise everything involved with the kettle sour production. We trialled various different strains of lactic acid bacteria, but finally settled on L. Delbrueckii. This strain gave us the flavour profile we were looking for and is very sensitive to iso-alpha-acid, so if it was inadvertently introduced to a standard beer it would cause less of an issue.
There was also the problem with the wort residency time in the kettle. If this was the last brew of the day, it wouldn’t be sour enough to finish off the brew the next day and holding up the brewhouse in a production brewery isn’t really an option! So, we came up with a plan to send the wort over to a dedicated souring tank and dedicated transport hoses etc. We could then leave the wort souring in there; when the pH was in specification, then we could fit it back into the brewing plan at our convenience. The other advantage of this method is that we could send the wort through the heat exchanger and make sure the temperature of the wort was optimum for the lactic acid bacteria.
I have to say the main faults I pick up on kettle sours are due to the infection of the initial wort during souring. Two of the main off flavours I often detect due to wort infections with sour beers can be described as cheesy and ‘vomit-like’. These two flavours can be attributed to the presence of two short-chain fatty-acids called butyric and isovaleric acid, which are produced by wort bacteria. In fact, both of these compounds are present in Parmesan cheese and are the very same ‘sweaty feet’ chemicals contained in our vomit and body odour smell. Preboiling of the wort prior to souring and a fast drop in pH are key to minimising these off-flavours. The aim of the process is to produce a clean, lemony, crisp sour beer which is most refreshing, so the main advice I can give is don’t scrimp on your inoculum!
La Trappe brewmaster Lodewijk Swinkels has left the Dutch Trappist brewery to join Ontario’s Brunswick Bierworks as its brewmaster and head of operations.
He is the seventh generation of brewers and for the past 14 years, has been the brewmaster at De Koningshoeven Brewery (La Trappe).
Here, he won numerous international brewing awards and established La Trappe’s world-renowned barrel aging program.
Swinkels’ relationship with Brunswick Bierworks goes back decades to the Technical University of Munich in Weihenstephan where he received his training and befriended Brunswick Bierwork’s Senior Brewing Advisor Christian Riemerschmid von der Heide.
He commented: “I was drawn to the passion here and to be honest, I was drawn to the beer. To be able to brew with some of the most iconic and innovative brewers in a brand new, world-class facility is something you dream about.”
Mike Laba, partner at Brunswick Bierworks, added: “It is truly an honor to have one of the world’s best brewmasters coach, train and mentor the Brunswick Bierworks brewing team.”
Richard Frost is calling time on 40 years in the brewing industry when he retires at the end of this month.
Mike Unsworth will succeed Frost, joining the business from Carlton & United Breweries in Australia.
Frost joined the Kent-based business in 2012 after being approached for the role following a career that began as a trainee brewer with Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries in 1978.
He explained: “I studied biology at Nottingham University and went on brewery visits as part of the course which I found really interesting.
“I wanted to do something practical with my degree, so going into the brewing industry after my studies seemed the perfect choice.”
Frost worked in a number of roles for Wolverhampton and Dudley, including shift brewer, packaging manager and technical services manager, before being promoted to site director of Camerons Brewery in Hartlepool in 1998.
He was then appointed head brewer at Banks’s brewery in Wolverhampton in 2003, and remained there for nine years before joining Shepherd Neame.
During his time at Shepherd Neame, Frost oversaw major expansion of the beer portfolio, including introducing the Whitstable Bay Collection, extending the Spitfire range and winning a Gold International Brewing Award for the cask variant of the new Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale.
He added: “It is a really good time to be a brewer, as the surge in microbreweries and craft brewers in recent years has prompted consumers to become more knowledgeable and interested in beer.
“After 40 years in brewing, I know that things will go wrong, but the key is to remain calm and deal with it. Work with your team to sort out the problem and then think about how to stop it happening again.
“I am looking forward to being able to finally switch off and have the opportunity to play golf and see more of the world, though I will miss the variety and challenge of my work, and most of all, the people I work with.
“But I plan to keep in touch with everyone, and of course I will continue to drink Shepherd Neame beer, to check it is still of the highest quality!”
Chief executive Jonathan Neame commented: “Richard is well-respected throughout the brewing industry, and has been a huge asset to Shepherd Neame.
“We would like to thank him for his dedication and hard work during the past six years. He will be greatly missed, but he leaves the brewery in excellent shape for the exciting times ahead.”
“I want to be different, like everyone I want to be like.”
The lyric, found in US band King Missile’s track ‘It’s Saturday’, was written 25 years ago. But for Alex Troncoso co-founder and head brewer of Bristol’s Lost and Grounded Brewers, it also has a particular relevance to the brewing industry of 2018.
“I think it must be a really fascinating time to be someone like Bart Watson (chief economist at the Brewers Association) at the moment because the way the brewing industry is going, it is like economics playing out in front of our very eyes,” explains Troncoso. “So I felt it was fitting to start with the quote above.
“Wanting to be different, like everyone else, is something of a teenager complex. But when does different stop being truly different?” he asks. “There are thousands of breweries offering a range of similar products so who is different? And are we different because we primarily produce pale lager but then that’s a ridiculous notion because 90-something percent of the beer produced in the world is of that style, so I’m not so sure.”
Troncoso co-founded Lost and Grounded Brewers with partner Annie Clements in the summer of 2016. Although the Bristol outfit only celebrated its first birthday last year, they have already made their name with excellent beers including their flagship Keller Pils.
And head brewer Troncoso’s brewing journey itself is more than 20 years in the making. A home brewer from 1992, he graduated as a Chemical Engineer in 1996 from the Colorado School of Mines, but always dreamed of brewing. Troncoso subsequently completed a graduate degree in brewing as well as a Masters in Business. He played an integral role in the monumental expansion of Little Creatures in Fremantle, Australia, overseeing three production sites, and also served as brewing director at Camden Town Brewery.
“We started Lost and Grounded Brewers in mid-2016 following about a year and a half of planning. We have seven employees, paying them the real Living Wage, and we are primarily known for our Keller Pils that accounts for at least of what we produce,” he explains. “I’ve studied, and have brewing experience, in lots of different countries. Having that perspective makes me agree with John Keeling of Fuller’s, who’ says that a great brewery should having a brewing philosophy. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience that at Little Creatures. That set the tone for me and I hope Lost and Grounded Brewers has that, too.”
So let’s look at the UK briefly….“The UK is the number two producer of beer in the EU, producing 44 million hectolitres (The Brewers of Europe – Beer Statistics released Nov 2016 using data from 2015). But we’re in a declining beer market with consumption down 4.6%, equal to 2.1HL. That is no small figure, and one that is greater than the output of many small UK producers combined,” he explains. “But the number of breweries in the UK are growing too. In the same period, the figure rose from 828 in 2010 to 1880 in 2015. And that’s higher still, now bringing it closers to 2000.”
Troncoso adds: “But we know things aren’t that straightforward, either. Drinking patterns are changing. People are wanting less, but better. So I think it’s also interesting to look at the figures for Germany in that time. While the UK enjoyed a 127% increase in brewery numbers, the figure only grew 4%, which is hardly any change at all.
“There are a number of reasons for that. You could argue that the barriers to entry are far higher in Germany, and the investment required to get of the ground are more, too.”
So what has happened in the USA?
“I find this graph really interesting as it demonstrates the rise and decline of beer categories that have taken place in the US in the last few decades,” he says.
Troncoso points out that the market share of old regionals and value brands fell dramatically from 1950 to the modern day. At the same time, the premium brands start with a 19.4% market share in the 50s and enjoy steady growth to a high of 64.3%, concluding at 43.1% at the end of 2016. Elsewhere, segment three, which comprises craft, import, SuperPremium, Flavoured malt beverages start the graph with 6.5% market share, growing to a high of 35.1%.
He also points out the importance of the quote below.
“What the next cycle will bring is anyone’s guess, but brewers who proactively recognize that challenge and focus on what they can control (quality and consistency, for instance) will be better positioned to ride the wave rather than watch it crash over them,” Bart Watson, said in the article ‘Premiumization, pricing and positioning, December 2016).
Troncoso explains that he thinks it’s important that all of of the breweries operating on a small scale and he even includes someone like Fuller’s in that, because they are all “tiny compared to big internationals” and so to operate on a small scale, you need to give people a reason to buy your beer.
“Sure, you might nail the consistency side of things as much as you’d like compared to a bigger brewery with the resources they have, but what we have is the benefit of character and there is a certain beauty in not being quite perfect all of the time,” he says. “ There is a beauty and having that element of change.”
The economics of brewing
Supply and demand is a fundamental principle in economics and it is fundamentally important to all of us involved in brewing. Using the figure overleaf as a reference, it’s key to remember that in recent years there has maybe a scarcity in that space which helped drive up price a little,” explains Troncoso. ”But as more players enter the market, it’s possible that prices can be forced down, which can present an issue to brewers. We are unable to control what happens as we don’t have the economies of scale that larger breweries can benefit from so once more, you need to focus on what makes you different, what makes you unique, what makes you special.”
He adds: “At the end of the day, the world has enough cover bands, people want some originals. As smaller breweries, we need to be prepared to branch out and do what others aren’t prepared to do. Let’s be honest, starting a brewery in the first place is a blend of ambition and stupidity, with maybe a tiny bit of courage thrown in, too.
“Yes, there are a lot of new players entering the field but I don’t think there is room for more. But the beer has to be good, it has to be considered, it has to be thoughtful. And that can be done in many ways.”
Troncoso explains that we look at how competitors in the market (Principles of Marketing, Brassington and Pettitt, Pearson Education, 2006.) is mirrored in the brewing industry.
“Even though I think a lot of us would like to think that we’re in the ‘Pioneer’ bracket, the reality is that most of us are in the group of ‘Early Differentiators’. So if we’re doing our Keller Pils, then it needs to be the best pale lager we can possibly make. The same if we were doing an IPA,” he says.
Troncoso adds: “If you then look at the ‘Late Entrants’ group. If you’re a brewery that falls into that group, that says to me that you’re likely to be a big brewery. You need to be efficient, have national access, good distribution, and economies of scale to be a success in this bracket. If you’re a small brewery that’s late to the market, then it’s going to be more difficult. You need to have quality, you need to have the lot.”
The acceptable price point of a beer may eventually be dragged down unless it is offset by other forces such as an increase in demand or the positioning of the brand.
“A common path to growth, which is pretty common, is seeking out free listings for your beer. These are commonly found in free of tie lines or those that offer rotational taps,” he says. “There is a lot of us fighting for those so one way of looking at those long term is by offering discounts to the buyer as, let’s be honest, it’s a buyers market. If you need more growth? Then you’re in the position where you have to offer additional discounts, or you have to pay for installations at bars and pubs that will then pour your beers. Finally, the high profile/high volume accounts will require you to pay for listings, provide discounts, and then perhaps offer further volume discounts, too.”
So what is happening in the USA?
“This is interesting because growth is geared towards the higher end of the average case price. That demonstrates that you can make money from your beer if it’s a quality product and grow at a good rate, too,” says Troncoso. “But quality extends to the bigger picture as well. Quality is how it looks, the taste and the aroma to the way you invoice the customer, how you deal with them, and how you keep them happy. There are many things you must deal with way before the consumer tastes your beer. These all tie into what people consider quality.”
The road ahead
For Troncoso, craft is about assembling a team of people that care about the process from the start to the finish. To make a good product and have everything else flow on from that.
“The industry continues to develop at a great pace with so many breweries opening, so many new beers, so many events… it is crazy! I think there will be a trend towards good lager (ha, of course I would say that!), and increased opportunities for small brewers to enter more into the mainstream as consumers and the trade develops. As that happens, however, I think pressure will increase on pricing as it is really a buyers market,” he says. “The greatest challenge will be to continue gaining distribution to reach our targets – we set up Lost and Grounded Brewers to become a regional brewer, and that takes focus and time. The most exciting opportunity we have now is growing sales: we have a full team, state-of-the-art brewery, excellent wholesalers and quality that is top notch.
He adds: “We will press ahead without distraction and get loads of delicious beer into people’s hands. We also want to see Bristol continue to develop as a beer destination and look forward to working with our fellow brewers to form a united front to put us firmly on the map.
“We are operating in a very crowded market, and conditions require all of us to be as efficient as possible while operating on a small scale. Consideration must be given to all aspects – making good beer is not enough. You need to also focus on culture, marketing, team, branding, sales, distribution and production.”
BrewDog has released a new beer, dubbed Beer for Girls, in a bid to targeting gender pay inequality and sexist marketing.
It’s the brewery’s “clarion call”calling to close the gender pay gap in the UK and around the world and to expose sexist marketing to women, particularly within the beer industry.
The beer itself is BrewDog’s Punk IPA but packaged in pink, something the brewery explained was a “send-up” of the lazy marketing efforts targeting the female market.
The beer will be sold will also be serving the beer at 20% cheaper in BrewDog’s bars to those whoidentify as women.
For four weeks from today, BrewDog will be also be donating 20% of its proceeds from bottled Pink IPA and Punk IPA to causes that fight against gender inequality.
Sarah Warman, BrewDog’s global head of marketing, added: “The fact that the gender pay gap is still an issue in 2018 shows that a lot of lip service is being paid, but not enough action is being taken to tackle inequality.
We want to accelerate change by empowering more women to make their voices heard and calling out industries and employees that need to do more. With Pink IPA, we are making a statement the only way we know how – with beer.
“Women make up a small but growing percentage of my peers within the beer industry, and with Pink IPA we are hoping to welcome more people who identify as female into craft beer.
It’s an incredible industry to be a part of, and the more women we can get working behind the bar, the more women we can hope to see the other side of it.”
Petainer has unveiled its latest one-way petainerKeg, which can be filled by hand or through an automated system.
The Hybrid can be used with universal coupling systems, with flat fittings compatible with Micro Matic A and G systems and well-type fittings compatible with Micro Matic S and D systems, so customers know their product can be dispensed anywhere in the world.
Once empty, the keg is easier to depressurise and disassemble than other PET kegs – the chimes simply unclip from the keg body so that all parts can be recycled as part of the waste stream.
It can withstand an operating pressure of 3.10bar (45psi), with maximum operating pressure of 4.14bar (60 psi).
Erin Corstanje, group director NPD & technical support, explained: “We set out to design and develop a versatile PET keg which provides the best user-experience and compatibility with existing systems which lowers the barrier to entry for draught products.
“We have achieved this and maintained the significant cost and sustainability benefits which are so important to our customers’ CSR objectives, such as reducing the carbon footprint and water use.”
Nigel Pritchard, chief operating officer at Petainer Group, added: “Petainer is the global leader in one-way PET kegs.
“The launch of Hybrid marks another step in our growth plans as we continue to invest and innovate to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our customers across all of our key markets around the world.”
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