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Beers and Lagers

As consumers we are becoming increasingly knowledgeable and demanding about what we spend our money on. For years, our high streets have been changing as world cuisine landed on these shores and café culture grew exponentially. As a category, beer is also seeing changes. While trusted beer brands remain popular, craft beer is on the rise as drinkers seek new tastes and experiences.

Guinness goes with the flow

Responding to changing consumer demand, Guinness recently added two new products to its portfolio:

Guinness Dublin Porter

– a sweet, tasty, smooth beer with warm notes of caramel and a lower ABV. This beer is designed to appeal to a broader market of seasoned beer drinkers who are looking for a more characterful beer. It also goes well with food.

Guinness West Indies Porter

– with its lingering notes of toffee, the complex beer offers consumers a real depth in flavour with a distinctive yet rounded taste.

“Beer is currently experiencing a ‘craft revolution’, driven by consumers demanding more authentic and rewarding experiences from the products they are purchasing,” observes Stephen O’Kelly, Marketing Director for Guinness Western Europe. “The launch of Guinness Dublin Porter and Guinness West Indies Porter taps into this trend and is set to ignite the category by making it more accessible to new customers through the trademark.

“Today’s consumers are seeking a richer value or experience from what they consume. They are interested in the stories, ingredients and provenance of products – this is a trend we are seeing across food and drink as a whole, and it is influencing purchase decisions.”

Guiness Golden AleGuinness Golden Ale

The very latest addition to the Guinness family is Guinness Golden Ale, so called because of its distinctive golden colour. Released in March, the new Golden Ale is brewed using Guinness yeast, Irish barley, hops, and a specially selected amber malt that gives the beer its golden hue.

Peter Simpson, the brewer behind the Golden Ale, said: “My ambition was to create a beautifully balanced ale from Guinness that would appeal to a broad range of people and introduce them to the exciting world of premium ale. The release of a golden ale from Guinness is a bold new step and I’m really proud to have created a great new beer that is worthy of the Guinness name.”

Carlsberg assists with Crafted Handbook

Last year Carlsberg launched its Crafted Handbook, which seeks to help outlets and licensees capitalise on the opportunities in the craft category; and which has already won an award from the British Guild of Beer Writers for its content.

“The handbook serves as a guide to the category and is a valuable source of support both for experts in the field and publicans who recognise the latent opportunity, but need a little extra support to get a handle on the category,” says Kathryn Purchase, Director of Customer Marketing at Carlsberg UK.

San MiguelSan Miguel 0,0%

“As a leading beer and beverage company in the UK, we constantly monitor consumer demand and respond to current trends with innovations in our portfolio,” comments Kathryn. “Over the past few years there has been a boom in the popularity of healthy and healthier-for-you products, which has fed through into various drinks categories, with demand from consumers wanting lower or alcohol-free drinks. Previously, there was a lack of variety and innovation when it came to alcohol-free drinks, however these days, as product quality is improving, consumers are more willing to try them.”

Carlsberg UK has added alcohol-free beer to its San Miguel range with two new products – San Miguel 0,0% and San Miguel 0,0% Limon.

Independent brewers offer variety

The growing number of drinkers demanding interesting beers from independent brewers presents an outstanding opportunity for pubs, clubs and bars that can offer an appealing range of quality beers, served in optimum condition. With 1500 British brewers producing thousands of beers in cask, keg, bottle and, increasingly, cans, there is no shortage of options to put on the bar or in the bottle fridge.

The independent brewing sector is thriving, according to the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), which represents 800 brewers across the country. Last year, volume production by its members grew by 15.8% to 2.99 million hectolitres, or 526 million pints. Added to the 9.4% increase in 2013, this broadly translates into a 25% uplift in volumes since the Beer Duty Escalator was abolished in March 2013.

Although the majority (70%) of SIBA members’ output is currently in cask, other packaging formats are becoming more widely used: in 2015, bottled and canned beers are expected to account for 25% and keg for 7% of production.

SIBA winnersSIBA Managing Director, Mike Benner, said: “Independent brewers Beer and food pairing Beer’s diversity also means it is the perfect partner to a wide range of foods from seafood to chocolate, as increasing numbers of food operators are realising. “Beer lists are becoming more widely available to guide customers towards a beer match; a growing army of beer sommeliers in restaurants, pubs and hotels are experimenting with new beer and food pairings; while chefs are using beer as an ingredient in a number of dishes,” adds Mike. have transformed the British beer market over the last couple of decades, turning it from one dominated by large, homogenous brands into the one we have today, with a staggering diversity of quality, flavoursome beers.

quality, flavoursome beers. “Over the last few years, customers’ expectations of the beers on offer in a pub or bar have risen dramatically and any operator who is serious about their beers should be finding space on the bar or bottle fridge for products from an independent brewer.”

Beer and food pairing

Beer’s diversity also means it is the perfect partner to a wide range of foods from seafood to chocolate, as increasing numbers of food operators are realising. “Beer lists are becoming more widely available to guide customers towards a beer match; a growing army of beer sommeliers in restaurants, pubs and hotels are experimenting with new beer and food pairings; while chefs are using beer as an ingredient in a number of dishes,” adds Mike.

BenBeer according to Ben


The permanent beers are consumer driven - if we have a drastic decline in trade on any of them, then we will change them.


There seem to be new breweries opening up every month somewhere in the UK so the choice is amazing at the moment.


Beware, not all breweries sell good beer.


A cask ale should really be on sale no longer than three days as the quality starts to deteriorate.


Craft keg ales can be on sale a lot longer as they have a longer shelf life.


Craft ale is a very cool product at the moment; it is a lot more appealing to a younger market than ale has been in the past and so is helping to bring in new customers.

Case Study: The Bodega Pub, Newcastle

Real ale enthusiasts recently voted the Bodega on Westgate Road in Newcastle ‘The Tyneside Pub of the Year’ for the second year running. Voting was open to over 1600 branch members in the CAMRA Tyneside & Northumberland Pub and Club of the Year Awards.

The Bodega, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is one of several pubs and bars owned by Sir John Fitzgerald Ltd, one of the best-loved family firms in Newcastle, according to the company, and a North East institution dating back to the 1850s. The company owns 21 bars and restaurant venues throughout the region and employs 550 staff.


“I select our guest ales mainly by doing research via social media or various ale tasting websites,” says Ben Rea, Manager, The Bodga Pub. “If a customer asks for a specific beer then we try our best to source it for them. We have four hand pulls that are used for guest ales, and four that are used as permanent ales.”

Mark Bullock, Operations Manager for Sir John Fitzgerald, comments: “Over the past few years across our estate I have noticed a considerable rise in our craft beer sales, our portfolio is constantly expanding both to meet demand and stimulate sales with locally produced ales and beers from all continents.”

The group acknowledges that the boom in the UK of craft beer has a direct association with a previous boom in the USA and there has been a visible effort in the UK of replicating American beer styles and themed bars

“As with food, people are more conscious of what they are consuming, where it originates and how it is produced; people are also more open minded about trying out new things,” observes Mark. “On the back of the recession, people have had less money to spend on beer, some naturally looking for cheaper options, but our experience is that people actually look closer at what they are getting for their money and are prepared to pay extra for a superior product. Across the Sir John Fitzgerald group we have a much larger emphasis on quality and variation as a result.”

The industry is awash with innovative offerings. In April, brewer and pub operator Brakspear launched Honey Bee - a 4.4% ABV honey beer, brewed at its microbrewery in Henley, Berkshire - in support of Friends of the Earth’s ‘Bee Cause’ campaign to protect the bee. The honey is from beehives at Orwells, the award-winning Brakspear pub at Shiplake near Henley; 20p from every pint sold will be donated by Brakspear to Bee Cause.

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