Rosie Davenport
Interbrew has put beers from its Belgium homeland at the heart of its campaign to accelerate the UK market for speciality brews.
The brewer, more commonly known for Stella Artois, wants to make its niche brands from the Continent more mainstream. To complement its existing portfolio of Belgian brands, Hoegaarden and Leffe, it is introducing three more beers from Belgium and a fourth from Germany.
Unusually, the brews ­ Belle-Vue Framboise, Belle-Vue Kriek, Diebels Alt and Hoegaarden Grand Cru ­ will make their debut in the off-trade where the brewer hopes to help retailers manage the category more efficiently with special units.
Designed to house the new range, which is priced between £1.29 and £1.99, the units are on trial in Safeway's St Albans store and Interbrew hopes to place 250 in other multiples, independents and wholesalers.
The units also have room for branded glasses costing up to £2.99 and leaflets educating shoppers about the brews.
Interbrew's take home sales MD, Steve Kitching, said the glasses could form part of retailer promotions but that he did not expect retailers to discount the beers as consumers would be happy to pay a premium price.
Safeway's head beer buyer, Glenn Payne, said: "Up to 120 of our stores could make use of the units and I would have thought our competitors will make space for them. Speciality beers have higher margins than most other beers and are an untapped reservoir. It won't be long before other brewers, such as Heineken, go in this direction."