The market for craft beer is showing no signs of slowing down in the UK, with consumers often choosing local, independently brewed beverages over the mainstream lager choices available in bars and pubs these days.
In fact, the Morning Advertiser suggests that many of the big brewers are taking a greater interest in craft breweries – and acquiring them where they can – to help combat falling sales of mainstream lagers.
The publication points to the revelation by Carlsberg chief executive Julian Moman earlier this month that the company plans to buy up a UK craft brewery by the end of 2017. He told the publication that local craft beer in particular is important for any large beverage business.
“Local craft in the UK is actually growing faster than international craft and it doesn’t exist in our portfolio right now,” he explained.
Of course, Carlsberg is far from the first big business to take an interest in one of its much smaller competitors, and is unlikely to be the last to try and tap into the local craft beer market by acquiring a brand that’s doing well in the space.
However, Jane Peyton, drinks educator and founder of Beer Day Britain, told the Morning Advertiser that simply buying craft breweries won’t necessarily provide a magic solution for the larger companies with the cash to invest, because a large part of the appeal of products from microbreweries is their independence and the fact that they’re brewed locally.
In an interview with the publication earlier this month, Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver suggested that brewers in the UK should make use of the flavours and produce available in their own country to make their beers.
He pointed to the quality of British hops as an example, noting that many brewers in the US use this if they can.
“Parts of Britain have actual flavours, they have their own terroirs and it would be really cool to see more British breweries channeling that,” he observed.
When you’re setting up a microbrewery, you have more to think about than just the ingredients you’re using in your beer, although that’s a big part of creating your own flavours. Choosing the right beer filters, brewing equipment setup and even packaging are all part of the process.
In fact, the right equipment is a key factor for microbreweries, with the Society of Independent Brewers’ most recent member survey highlighting the level of investment many small brewers are making in upgrading equipment.
According to their research, which was published in March this year, the majority of breweries questioned made capital investments last year, with much of this money being ploughed into modernising equipment, expanding production, or increasing the size of their premises.
The survey also found that nearly one in six brewers intend to double their current production levels by 2018, which means more of them will be putting money into new equipment in the coming months. Another key area was training, with 77 per cent of those surveyed stating that they plan to invest in staff training in the future