Locally sourced beers are experiencing a revival as retailers are keen to support local brewers.
And new products have been flying around the category. Fuller’s Brewery revealed its first blonde beer, Discovery Blonde, in a move away from its traditional strong ales portfolio.
David Spencer, Fuller’s brands marketing manager, says: “Since its launch on May 9, Discovery has been a huge hit with ale and lager drinkers and we are expecting positive things over the summer.”
St Peter’s Brewery, based in Suffolk, also reported a strong year with 37% growth in UK and export sales for its bottled beers. It was recently invited by Asda to regionally stock its Suffolk Gold and Cream Stout as part of the retailer’s local sourcing programme.
Meantime Brewing Company has launched a range of branded beers on the back of the success of its relationship with Sainsbury, for
which it produces beers under its Taste the Difference range. The beers include Grand Cru Wheat, London Porter, India Pale Ale, and coffee and chocolate flavours.
Badger Ales is also expanding its portfolio with the launch of Badger First Gold as a cask and bottled ale from August.
Badger hopes the 4% abv ale, developed over 12 months, will bring new consumers to the category. It is not alone in targeting the ‘dining with beer’ market. Kent brewer Shepherd Neame has packaged its Bishops Finger Kentish Strong Ale in a table-friendly 75cl bottle.
Chief executive Jonathan Neame says: “Bishops Finger complements a wide range of foods, both sweet and savoury, and it’s ideal for sharing. That’s why we have introduced the 75cl bottle.”
Areas of growth last year were in its Spitfire beer and its Bishops Finger 500ml bottle, which has high quality, transparent labelling for better shelf stand-out and “which has had a positive response from retailers,” says Neame.
The Greene King Brewing Company has a strong commitment to developing the association of beer with food, through its sponsorship of Beer with Food Week last March as well as its Beer to Dine For.
Retailers are also positioning beer with food. Interbrew UK MD of take-home sales Stuart MacFarlane reflects that retailers have been supportive of linking specialist beers with more mainstream category brands in grocery.
“In joint collaborations we have tried positioning brands such as Hoegaarden with the retailer’s premium food ranges, such as cheese or mussels, and this has worked really well.”
Ged Futter, Asda’s beer buyer, notes: “We are going to put more focus on sampling beer and food together, offering customers a complete meal solution with beer as an alternative to wine.
“For example, at the end of June we held a Taste of Italy event, promoting ambient and chilled products together with a co-ordinated beer sampling programme.”