Sir: I couldn’t agree more with Andreas Falt that UK supermarkets are far too conservative in their approach to beer.
While it’s wonderful to encourage domestic breweries as Sainsbury’s have done with their beer hunt and Waitrose have throughout their range, there is a world of undiscovered beer styles and breweries awaiting the adventurous drinker.
When I introduced a revolving range of American craft beers (Alaskan, Dogfish Head, Goose Island et al) to Safeway in 2001, the effect on sales was electric. The beer sold at a 35% premium but price was no barrier, and it always surprised me Safeway kept the market to itself.
I’m just back from my 11th year judging at the Great American Beer Festival. I remain the only supermarket buyer from around the world to have been invited to judge.
I would advise the multiples’ beer buyers: hunt the beer, don’t wait for it to come to you.
Glenn Payne, beer buyer, Safeway, 1997-2004