The monthly online
magazine for all
catering professionals
Essentially Catering Magazine

Article Archive - For this month's articles - View magazine »


Beers and Lagers - Embracing diversity

As in all areas of the on trade and foodservice in general, the beers and lagers sector is shifting in response to today’s consumer who seeks different experiences. With the boom in craft beers, spirit beers, low-alcohol beers and a plethora of other beers, how can today’s licensee ensure that their offer is optimum for the bottom line


With his finger very firmly on the pulse, Phil Montgomery, Senior Account Manager, CGA Strategy, takes us on a whistle-stop tour of the changing landscape of beer in the on trade.

‘Evolution’ is a word that so aptly describes the current trajectory of the GB on trade: from the continued march of the food-led provision, through the use of premium brands to drive margin and satisfy an increasingly discerning consumer, all the way to the utilisation of coffee and WIFI to grow revenue in the earlier day parts.

The biggest reflection of the change in the on trade is the current state of the beer category. While current total beer performance, which declines -3% year on year, would suggest an offering that is losing relevance to the on-trade consumer, scratch beneath the surface and you can see elements of the category in rude health.

The implication for the modern licensee is how can they ensure that their beer range is aligned to capitalise on this momentum. Of course, mainstream lager and ales have a heavy influence on the beer category; for many licensees this will make up a large element of their sales. A tap or two on the bar for standard lagers or ale is always going to be a staple in an outlet. However, licensees can also complement their mainstream lager/ale provision with other offerings to drive consumers to trade up into more expensive products, boosting margin and overall revenue returns.


Premiumisation has cemented itself in the on trade in recent years. Spanning across spirits, beer and wine, the visibility of premium brands has grown markedly. This effect has led to the emergence of several product and category offerings in beer that derive their success from their brand heritage and provenance.

World lager and premium 4% lager were initially the main drivers of this focus on heritage and provenance and their value to the modern licensee continues to make them a detinite consideration in any beer range. The world lager category has increased its availability in recent years and is currently seeing 7% volume growth vs. last year, while premium 4% brands see growth of 1%. Incorporating these offerings into a beer range allows licensees to develop a natural beer pricing ladder and gives opportunity to offer higher margin products to drive additional revenue, while also accommodating that ever-more discerning consumer at the key point of purchase.

BeersCraft beer

Beyond world and premium 4%, craft beer is one of the most talked about trends in beer. The category currently grows at 32% and has captured the imagination of the industry – indeed, the CGA Peach business leaders survey ranked craft beer as the number one hot tip for 2016.

Given the continued interest of the major suppliers in this space, craft beer is likely here to stay. Category success is again based on the pillars of heritage and provenance of the brands as locality and a niche image wins stocking and consumption in outlet.

At present, the packaged format gains most traction with a variety of craft offerings commonplace in outlets across GB. However, the draught format is also gaining traction, increasing its presence by 47% over last year and now being available in 10% of all on trade outlets. Ultimately, utilisation of this format will depend much on whether a licensee feels this will attain the necessary throughput to make it justifiable. However, there is no doubt that craft will certainly add to a licensee’s premium beer range and give further scope to create a beer pricing ladder that will drive additional revenue.

Speers and spiders

Outside of the rise of premium beer offerings, ‘speers’ and ‘spiders’ have captured the imagination in the past few years. Typically an infusion of spirits and cider/beer, they have seen much growth recently, although current category trajectory shows decline. However, as suppliers continue to launch brands into this area of the market and consumers strive for more unique on-trade experiences, there may be more of a role for Speers to play.

Friends drinking beerKnow your customers

The beer category, like the on trade, is alive and kicking. It is continuing to undergo a rebrand as the perception of mainstream beer gives way to the exciting premium, craft and flavour-led offerings that are currently flooding the market. The key for the modern licensee is ensuring that their beer range is suitable for their outlet proposition and clientele. Some licensees will have to rely on mainstream beer as the staple of their offering, while others accommodate more premium brands.

Integral for licensees is that they have a beer range that has a clear hierarchy, inclusive to some degree of craft, premium and mainstream beer. This will help to satisfy the ever-more demanding on-trade consumer while also helping to drive additional revenue to the outlets. Capturing these beer trends will be imperative to ensure that your outlet beer range doesn’t go flat.

Stocking advice

“We always recommend offering a range of products behind the bar that suit a variety of tastes,” says Scott Parker, Trading Manager for Beer and Cider, Molson Coors. “Outlets should dedicate a significant portion of fridge space to bottled beers. By stocking premium brands, outlets can ‘premiumise’ the choice available for their consumers, driving increased rate of sale across the beer category.

“In terms of cask and craft, the beauty of this sector is in the sheer variety of tastes and styles available. Well-known, familiar ales such as Sharp’s Doom Bar will appeal to those who are new to the category, while those with a more distinct taste profile will appeal to seasoned ale drinkers who have a good knowledge of the category – a great example of this is Sharp’s Atlantic.

“Despite this move towards ‘premiumisation’, it’s worth remembering that a significant proportion of consumers will always be happy to turn to their familiar favourites. Mainstream brands still make up the largest segment of the beer category, and remain a key revenue driver for outlets.”

Awareness of competition

“It’s very important nowadays to try and differentiate yourself from other operators, and to stay one step ahead of the competition,” advises James Armitage, Director of Sales and Marketing at Enterprise Inns. “This can be achieved by keeping on top of current trends and speaking regularly with your customers to understand better what they’re looking for from a beer menu.

“One area operators can create a point of difference is by matching beer and food. Although wine and food pairing has been commonplace for donkey’s years, beer, with its subtle taste profiles and diverse range of tasting notes, is becoming a popular option to match with food.”

Beer and sandwich

Beer and food pairing

“In food-led venues, pairing beer and food is becoming increasingly popular, and is an important means for pub owners to broaden their offering and consumer base,” observes Jessica Markowski, Head of Trade Marketing - North Europe, Ab Inbev.

“Due to the diverse flavour portfolio of beer, it pairs incredibly well with almost any food. To boost beer sales, pubs can encourage customers to choose a beer with their meal by providing both a selection of beers that pairs nicely with each meal on the menu and the tasting notes – similar to a wine list.

“Working alongside groups such as There’s A Beer for That, or independently, venues can tap into this food and beer trend by creating food and beer pairing events. These events need not focus on traditional pairings, but rather unique experiences for customers, such as beer and bread tastings or beer and chocolate pairing.

“Bring in a beer sommelier to explain each drink, have the key ingredients of beer scattered around tables and have your chef on hand to explain each dish to give a fully immersive experience for your guests.

“Glassware is also important for serving beer. Brands like Leffe and Stella Artois should be served in their signature glassware to create a premium experience for consumers. Like wine, publicans should invest in different glassware for different beers – rather than sticking to the stock standard pint glass for every lager, ale and stout.”

BeersAlcohol-free beer on the rise

New research conducted by AB InBev UK has revealed that the low and alcohol-free beer category is growing by 5% in the UK on-trade overall, with outlets such as pubs and bars enjoying 10% growth. The company’s Beck’s Blue is the market leader, contributing to 58% of the category.

The research coincides with the launch of AB InBev’s new set of Global Smart Drinking Goals that aim to empower consumers to make smart drinking choices and reduce the harmful use of alcohol by the end of 2025. The company has committed to ensuring that at least 20% of its global beer volume will be alcohol-free or lower-alcohol by 2020.


UEFA Euro 2016 10 June - 10 July

“UEFA Euro 2016 is a huge opportunity for pubs,” says David Scott, Director of Brands and Insight at Carlsberg UK – the Official Beer of UEFA Euro 2016 and the England team. “Football tournaments are worth +£60 million to the on-trade and live football can add an uplift of 60% to an outlet’s rate of sale.

“We know that 75% of pub goers watch football, presenting publicans with the perfect opportunity to engage existing customers and draw new ones in. This year is particularly important for the home nations with England, Wales and Northern Ireland all having qualified, meaning there are more matches and more opportunities for pubs. Licensees must capitalise on this as an opportunity not to be missed.”

The tournament will see 51 matches played with each expected to attract an estimated 150 million live spectators.

Football fans in the pub

Desperados on draught

Having identified a gap in the draught market for spirit-flavoured beers, Heineken launched Desperados on draught in March this year. A new glass has been introduced to support the launch of Desperados draught which, at two thirds the size of a pint, will help operators to boost their profit margins. The launch is further supported with branded bar runners and a striking illuminated steel font, creating strong standout at the bar.

As the UK’s 4th biggest packaged lager brand, Desperados has added £18M value to the on-trade since its launch in 2011, including £5M in the last 12 months.


Cobra and peroniWorld beers have driven consumer interest with Cobra and Peroni emerging as two of the most popular consumer choices

Budweiser twist capp

In April, Budweiser launched Twist-Offs in the UK – making it the first major beer brand in the UK to introduce twist-off bottle caps, thereby increasing ease of serve for the on trade.


Foster’s is now the Official Lager of England Cricket having recently signed a two-year deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board. The partnership sees Foster’s return to sports sponsorship for the first time in a decade

Bestway raises the bar with premium on-trade drinks guide

Reflecting the latest on-trade premium drinks trends such as booming sales of wine, craft beer and spirits, Bestway Wholesale has launched its first ever Drinks Product Guide.

As well as Including drinks available exclusively for delivery to on-trade customers from Bestway Wholesale, the guide also lists complementary categories such as soft drinks, snacks and bar sundries.

To support licensees in a changing market, the guide also includes a selection of super-premium spirits, craft and speciality beers, and soft drinks targeting the licensed sector. Bestway Wholesale also supplies a wide array of standard and premium lagers and spirits, which are listed within its newly launched Catering Product Guide.

The Bestway Batleys Drinks Guide is available from local sales managers, from Bestway or Batleys depots, and by calling the Bestway telesales line on 01738 646 666.

Your feedback is important to us – please comment any time. Leave feedback »

Previous issues - For latest news & articles view this month's magazine »

Inside this issue

Sign up for more

Sign up today and get Essentially
Catering Magazine delivered every
month to your inbox.

You’ll also get:

  • Weekly news updates
  • Exclusive catering product offers
Sign up »
Advertisement BB Foodservice
Follow Essentially Catering Magazine on Twitter

Essentially Catering @MagazineEC 19 MAY

RT @ChefGruel: When the shutdown ends, I’m inviting everyone who retweets this to my chicken concept Two Birds. Double birds on me. https:/…

Essentially Catering @MagazineEC 28 APR

NEWS!! After 13 years EC magazine is closing on the 30th April, it’s a decision from the top, nothing to do with CO…

Follow Essentially Catering Magazine on Facebook

Article Archive

Mental Health

Christmas may be heralded as a time for customers to be jolly and let their hair down, but the extra pressure on hospitality workers can take its toll. This year has witnessed an unprecedented amount of media attention being given to mental health. Read more >


Back in the day, the availability of cocktails out of home was very much limited to eponymous bars where your drinks were served by expert mixologists with a flair for spinning and twirling bottles as they created their offer. Read more >

View previous articles > 191
Advertisement Cooking oil offer