Beer Blogs

09 July 2020

Beer Blogs
  • Chancellor’s positive Summer support package is a welcome first step on the long road to recovery
    09 July 2020

    BBPA highlights that more financial help will be required to help thousands of community pubs where food is not a focus, as well as the nation’s 2,000 breweries

    The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today warmly welcomed Rishi Sunak’s positive package of support as a helpful first step on a long road to recovery, especially for food led pubs and those with accommodation and will help secure jobs.

    However, it has also highlighted that further support will be required to help the thousands of community pubs and more than 2,000 UK breweries get back on their feet.

    The Chancellor announced a cut to 5% on VAT for accommodation and food in hospitality. He also announced a ‘eat out to help out’ scheme to run during the month of August, but which will only apply to food and non-alcoholic drinks.

    The trade association said the sector-specific VAT cut, which it had called for, would be beneficial for pubs that serve food and offer accommodation, and would also help compensate for an expected long period across Summer and beyond of reduced sales and revenue compared to before lockdown.

    It also said the Chancellor’s ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, where Government will cover 50% of the cost of food in hospitality up to £10 per person per visit, will help encourage pub goers back to their local pubs where they offer food. However, for those pubs where revenue is more drinks led, the announcement today provides less help, the BBPA said.

    The trade association also welcomed the Job Retention Bonus, stating it hoped it would help the sector to bring back as many of its furloughed staff as possible. It had previously estimated that 90% pub staff were furloughed.

    The trade association also welcomed the announcement of the ‘kickstart job scheme’ for young people aged between 16 and 24 on Universal Credit, subsidising the costs of work placements for them in businesses. Pubs already directly employ 600,000 people and 43% of them are under 25, making them a vital source of jobs for young people.

    The trade association highlighted that the pub and brewing sector has huge potential to create thousands of new jobs and employ more people, but to do this it needs to be thriving, not just surviving. This requires more support in the medium term directed at all pubs and brewers so they can help lead with the economic recovery. These measures include a significant cut to beer duty to bring the UK in line with other European countries who pay far less tax on beer, and a fundamental review of the business rates system so that pubs no longer pay an unfair share of them.

    Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

    “The chancellor has communicated clearly that pubs and hospitality are safe and open for business.

    “The positive measures announced today are a welcome first step on what we believe will be a long road to full recovery for our sector.

    “These initiatives, which we have been calling for, will be beneficial for pubs that serve food and offer accommodation, and will also help compensate for an expected long period of reduced sales and revenue for pubs.

    “The ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, taking place in August, will also help stimulate visits to thousands of pubs that serve great food. It will help show to consumers that our pubs are back open for business.

    “Of course, for those pubs that do serve significant amounts of food or offer rooms to stay in, the cut to VAT for these to 5% will be a welcome boost. Whilst the measures announced today will help food led pubs, those who just serve beer may feel they are left wanting.

    “The Job Retention Bonus will help our sector to bring back as many of its furloughed staff as possible – with 90% of pub staff furloughed, it should help protect many jobs.

    “Our pubs directly employ 600,000 people – 43% of which are under 25, making them a vital source of employment for young people in communities across the UK. We therefore welcome the ‘kickstart job scheme’ announced today for young people on Universal Credit.

    “The pub and brewing sector has huge potential to create thousands of new jobs and employ more people, but to do this it needs to be thriving, not just surviving. This will require more support in the medium term directed at all pubs and brewers so they can help lead with the economic recovery. These measures include a significant cut to beer duty to bring the UK in line with other European countries who pay far less tax on beer, and a fundamental review of the business rates system so that pubs no longer pay an unfair share of them.

    “Such measures will ensure our pubs thrive and continue to bring together people from all walks of life as they have done for centuries. We look forward to these measures being announced in the Government’s planned rebuild phase.”

    ENDS

    Notes to editors:

    The beer and pub sector in the UK employs a total of 900,000 people – 600,000 of which are directly employed in pubs.

    The British Beer & Pub Association is the leading body representing Britain’s brewers and pub companies. The Association is more than a century old and was originally founded as the Brewers’ Society in 1904. Our members account for some 90 per cent of beer brewed in Britain today, and own around 20,000 of the nation’s pubs.

    For further information, please contact:

    David Wilson, Public Affairs Director, BBPA: 07557 405815

    Nick Lawrie, Digital Communications Manager, BBPA: 07824 359 013

  • Black Sheep Brewery announce the appointment of new ‘home grown’ head brewer
    09 July 2020

    Black Sheep Breweryhas announced the appointment of Dan Scott Paul as its new Head Brewer.

    Dan, who first joined Black Sheep in 1998, has held the role of Interim Head Brewer since January, and has now been appointed on a permanent basis to lead the brewing team and drive innovation at the Masham-based brewery.

    He has enjoyed a successful 19-year career with Black Sheep, spanning a number of positions starting as a 16-year-old on the cask racking line, which he did alongside his studies at Agricultural College.

    Returning in 2002 as Brewing/Process Operator, Dan progressed his career to QA Brewer then Second Brewer, before securing the role of Interim Head Brewer earlier this year.  His experience with Black Sheep gives Dan extensive knowledge of the specialist brewing techniques required to brew its core range of beers as well as its creative and diverse portfolio for its seasonal calendar.

    Dan, who obtained his IBD Diploma in Brewing in 2013, and is currently in his final year of a five-year Master Brewers course, said: “I feel very privileged to have been appointed Head Brewer at Black Sheep.

    “As a 16-year-old working on the racking line I wouldn’t have dreamed that one day I would achieve this position, and I want to thank the whole team at the brewery for the support I have had throughout my time here.  I am fortunate to have gained a lot of experience with previous Head Brewers, and look forward to taking up the mantle to drive innovation and creative brewing with the support of our amazing production team.”

    Rob Theakston, managing director at Black Sheep Brewery said “We’re really excited for Dan to be leading the brewing team. He has been part of the Black Sheep family for almost two decades, and perfectly represents our values, traditions and forward thinking approach.

    “His knowledge and expertise will allow us to continue to drive innovation and fresh thinking, which is epitomised by our 5 Barrel Project, an initiative led by Dan to create a range of new wave beers that have no constraints on style or ingredients.

    “Dan has also been instrumental in the development of a number of award-winning beers in his tenure at Black Sheep, so we’re excited to see him continue to push brewing boundaries and create exciting brews.

    Alongside his unique style and approach to our iconic brew kit, he will, of course, maintain our core brands and ensuring they continue to be consistent and of the highest quality.”

    ENDS 

    NEWS RELEASE: ISSUED ON BEHALF OF BLACK SHEEP BREWERY

    For further information contact Jamie Collis 01325 363436

     

    Editors’ Notes:

    The Black Sheep Brewery is one of British brewing’s most famous stories and has grown from humble beginnings to become a multi-award-winning company, with its beers enjoyed around the world.

    Black Sheep has grown to become one of Yorkshire’s most recognised brands, with its beer distributed both nationally and internationally. Black Sheep continues to champion the county of Yorkshire and is the official brewer of the annual Tour de Yorkshire.

    Black Sheep is a multi-award-winning brewer, having enjoyed numerous accolades in recent years including:

    • The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) Beer Champion 2017
    • International Brewing Awards – Milk Stout – Overall Champion (International Dark Beer)
    • World Beer Awards 2019 – Milk Stout – UK Winner
    • World Beer Awards 2019 – Pathmaker – Gold Award
    • World Beer Awards 2019 – Black Sheep Ale – Silver Award
    • World Beer Awards 2019 – Guzzler– Bronze Award
    • World Beer Awards 2019 – Pineapple Milkshake IPA- Bronze Award

    Based in Masham, in the heart of North Yorkshire, Black Sheep brewed its first beer in 1992 after being built up by Paul Theakston, whose family had brewed in the area for six generations.

    In a world of ever-increasing bland, mass-produced beer, Paul saw an opportunity to return to what his family had done best since 1827, making real beer in the time-honoured fashion.

    An old maltings building, once part of Lightfoot’s Brewery, became the Brewery’s home. This landmark building, which stands high over the banks of the Ure, had fallen into disrepair as years of neglect as a semi-redundant grainstore had taken its toll. Paul assembled a small team around him to fight the rats and build a traditional country brewery.

    The Visitor Centre, at the site of the iconic brewery, has grown to become an award-winning attraction for visitors to Yorkshire, with tens of thousands of people flocking to Masham each year. In 2018, the Visitor Centre had a thorough refurbishment and offers the general public a menu of locally sourced Yorkshire food, its range of award-winning beers and tours of their iconic brewery.

    In 2018, Black Sheep announced the purchase of York Brewery, which included the acquisition of four pubs in the business and key cask brands, including Guzzler and Yorkshire Terrier.

    The outlets bought by Black Sheep, as part of the deal, are as follows:

    • Last Drop Inn, York
    • Mr Foley’s Tap House, Leeds
    • The Three Legged Mare, York
    • Tap and Kitchen, Leeds

    The addition of York Brewery complements the strong, iconic Black Sheep brand and its existing award-winning beers and brands.

    In 2018, Black Sheep also purchased the Chapel Allerton based bar, ‘Kith and Kin’ which they have since refurbished and renamed the ‘Black Sheep Tap & Kitchen’, which was officially launched on 28th February 2019.

    The Black Sheep name derived from Masham’s association with sheep, but ‘Sheep Brewery’ didn’t quite sound right, so with a little creativity from Paul’s wife, the Black Sheep Brewery was born – a name that sat well with the area, spoke volumes about the business’ maverick attitude to the multi-nationals seeking to dominate the brewing industry and captured the essence of the family struggle that led to its birth.

    Black Sheep’s beers are full of character derived from the best possible brewing materials, plenty of time and patience in the brewing and its very special Yorkshire Square fermenters.

    Black Sheep Best Bitter is now one of the best-selling cask session beers in the UK and many of its creative brews, over the course of its 25-year history, have collected numerous awards – ranging from Black Sheep’s traditional ales to its up and coming craft beers.

    2017 marked the launch of Black Sheep Brewery’s first lager, 54 Degrees North, created in homage to its hometown of Masham, which sits on 54’ 13’ 24” N; 1’ 39’ 20” W longitude and latitude lines, as the company embarks on an adventurous new chapter in its distinguished history.

    In 2019, the brewery diversified their offering and entered the world of spirits by producing their own Black Sheep Yorkshire Dry Gin. The gin is distilled in Masham and within the production it features classic brewing ingredients including malted barley and Lemondrop hops.

     

    www.blacksheepbrewery.com

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/BlackSheepBrewery

    Instagram: @blacksheepbrewery

    Twitter: @BlackSheepBeer

  • 2G or not 2G
    09 July 2020
    This is the two thousandth post on this here blog. Instead of breaking out something fancy from the cellar I'm celebrating with my old reliable, the brewery that got me interested in beer as a lifestyle almost a quarter of a century ago: The Porterhouse.

    First of their newbs is a session IPA called Sundown, 4% ABV and boasting of Citra, Simcoe, Magnum and Mandarina Bavaria, which sounds fun. It is indeed sunny: a bright orange and hazy without going full opaque. It smells citric, of zesty oranges in particular. The flavour doesn't quite work. While that pithy citrus thing is still there, there's also a harsh phenolic twang -- burnt rubber and TCP. Behind this is something big and savoury -- onion bread or burnt corn. It's not good and I think that's for serious technical reasons rather than just my personal taste. Suddenly I'm on edge about the other three new cans.

    Rambler settled me down. This 4.6% ABV "juicy pale ale" makes good on its promise. Tangy tangerine and pithier jaffa mingle in the flavour, created using El Dorado, Enigma and Ekuanot hops. All is clean and there's a crispness in the finish which makes it extra refreshing. While the bitterness is low, it's not overly sweet, and completely lacking in east-coast off flavours. My guess is that this was designed to be served by the pint in the pub. I look forward to when that'll be possible.

    They go full New England with the third new one, Renegade. That said, it's golden rather than custard-yellow and only just hazy. There's not much aroma, and the flavour is very dessertish: meringue and sweet summer fruits. A silky mouthfeel contributes to the style authenticity and also makes the 5.3%-er very easy to drink. It's done without oats too, just barley and wheat. What's missing is hop intensity. The line-up is the same as in Sundown but I was expecting more impact from them: concentrated oils and resins. Instead it's another accessible and quaffable job, low on bitterness, rounded in texture and simple of flavour. The Porterhouse reputation for safe and reliable beers is fully protected by this one.

    This new range includes one Porterhouse old-timer, their classic dry and bitter stout Wrasslers, its name slimmed down to XXXX. Having not had a pint since the beginning of the year, of course I picked one up. It seems... softer than the nitro version, the green Galena bitterness less intense and the chocolate and espresso more to the fore. That said, there's still enough hop bittering going on for this to be unmistakably Wrasslers, the beer I know and love and missed. It's great that there was room for it in amongst the pale 'n' hoppy ales.

    Despite all the changes that have ripped through the drinks industry in recent months, The Porterhouse seems determined to continue making accessible flavoursome beers, the occasional mishap notwithstanding. I hope they'll still be doing that when I'm another two thousand posts down the road.
  • The Government has turned its back on thousands of local community pubs
    09 July 2020

    The Campaign for Pubs, the national grassroots campaign to promote, support and protect pubs, has responded to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s announcement in the summer statement that VAT will be cut to 5% for 6 months for food and accommodation and offer a midweek food voucher scheme, with no support at all of thousands of ‘wet-led’ community pubs up and down the country.

    The Campaign for Pubs have been campaigning for a 12-month VAT cut for all hospitality, so that all the nation’s pubs would be assisted through the current crisis. With trade restricted and uncertain due to the Covid-19 crisis, all pubs are facing reduced trade for months to come and many of the worst hit are smaller, community locals that don’t serve food – the very pubs excluded from any Government support today.

    The Chancellor also announced a midweek food voucher system, something that again does nothing to support wet-led pubs and will give a big advantage to pub chains that already serve food Monday to Wednesday, something many independent pubs simply can’t do.

    So today’s announcements will be a boost to pub chains and large companies operating pub-restaurant chains, but is another body blow for many independent pubs and licensees, already facing the double whammy of ongoing fixed costs with reduced trade and profit.

    Today’s announcement also shows that the Government is listening only to the voice of those representing pub and restaurant chains and the large pubcos and giant breweries and not to actual pubs and publicans, the very people who are having to deal with the Covid-19 crisis in their pubs on a day-to-day basis.

    The Campaign for Pubs exists to provide a real voice for pubs, bringing together publicans, customers and brewers and all who value our pub culture. The Campaign for Pubs has been formed precisely due to the lack of a real voice for pubs and publicans and to campaign for the needs of pubs and publicans, not the large property companies, big brewers and pub chains. The Campaign for Pubs campaigns for a better, freer and fairer, more sustainable pub sector as laid out in the mission statement.

    Commenting, Campaign Director of the Campaign for Pubs, Greg Mulholland said:
    “The Chancellor’s announcement is very mixed news, what was needed was what the Campaign for Pubs have been calling for, a 5% VAT cut for all hospitality. Instead Rishi Sunak has decided to help only pubs that do food and overnight accommodation and has done nothing at all to help thousands of beloved community locals up and down the country, which is unfair.

    “The Government appears to be turning its back on the traditional community local, many can’t trade profitably due to Government restrictions and yet are being offered no support by the Government. We urge the Chancellor to think again, or we will see the closures of many valued pubs, including in his own constituency.  So we welcome the help for pubs serve food and offer bed and breakfast, but are dismayed at the lack of any support for all other pubs and we will now be lobbying the Government to help all pubs through the ongoing crisis, not just some of them”.

    Dawn Hopkins, Vice-Chair of the Campaign for Pubs and licensee of the Rose, Norwich (a wet-led pub) said:

    “There are thousands of community pubs up and down the country who are dismayed at today’s announcement. Wet-led pubs like mine, with restricted and reduced trade due to Government rules, have been given no support from the Government. In truth the Chancellor hasn’t tried to help pubs, he’s just decided to help tourism and whilst that is important, so are pubs in other areas and so is community and today the Chancellor has turned his back on many community locals. The message is that wet-led community pubs don’t matter and that is deeply upsetting when we’ve been working so hard to try to survive this crisis. We urge the Government to reconsider or many of our most beloved pubs will close their doors over the coming months”.

    Commenting, Paul Crossman, Chair of the Campaign for Pubs and licensee of 3 pubs in York said: 

    “The measures announced today will be of little benefit to thousands of small-business wet-only pubs operating at the heart of their communities. Many small community pubs still cannot even open yet, and demand for those that can remains low in many areas as public confidence is seemingly yet to return. Wet-led community pubs serve a vital cultural and economic purpose and our communities and local independent supply chains desperately need them to survive for the future. Today’s announcements on VAT and midweek food vouchers will mainly provide a boost for pub chains and large companies operating pub restaurants, but will come as another blow for many independent pubs and licensees, who are already facing a calamitous double whammy of ongoing fixed costs, including rent, with reduced trade and profit. The midweek voucher scheme feels like an expensive, tokenistic gimmick. This money could and should have been invested in meaningful support for all pubs. It seems clear that once again the Government has listened only to the trade associations of large pub chains and not the real voice of grass-roots pubs and publicans, and this must change or many proper pubs will not survive”.

    ENDS
    Notes to editorsThe Campaign for Pubs website is https://campaignforpubs.org.uk/, Twitter and Facebook are @campaignforpubs

    Campaign for Pubs costs £25 a year to join, or £40 for a couple and members become part of a national network of those who care about pubs and their future.

    The Campaign for Pubs is a member organisation of the British Pub Confederation (the Confederation of independent organisations representing pubs and pub campaigners) and the Campaign for Pubs will administer and support the ongoing work of the Confederation to further strengthen representation for pubs and publicans.

    For more information, contact media @campaignforpubs.org.uk.

     

  • West Coast Black Market Trader by West Coast Brewing
    09 July 2020
    West Coast Black Market Trader is a 6% kettle sour from West Coast Brewing, based in Shizuoka, in Shizuoka, Japan. It’s part of their regular lineup and can be found in both cans and on tap. West Coast Black Market Trader is brewed using sour cherries and pink guava as well as being dry hopped with Citra and Idaho 7....
  • 2 Towns Ciderhouse Acquires the Shuttered Nectar Creek Meadery
    09 July 2020
    After shutting its doors this past October, Nectar Creek has found new life as the brand has been acquired by its friends at 2 Towns Ciderhouse. This new acquisition will bring together two beverages that complement one another and are both gluten free. 2 Towns Ciderhouse, the fourth largest cider maker in the United States […]
  • Von Ebert Brewing Releases its Latest Heritage Beer – Shaku Yamame
    09 July 2020
    Later this week on Friday, Von Ebert Brewing will release Shaku Yamame as part of the brewery’s Heritage Beer lineup. Brewed at Von Ebert Glendoveer, Shaku Yamame is a blended beer that consists of a foeder-fermented, mixed culture beer and a puncheon-aged, mixed culture farmhouse ale. Using the same foeder-fermented base beer from the same […]
  • Navigating the move to online retail
    09 July 2020

    The challenge of COVID-19 has accelerated the move to online retail, but navigating consumer demands, appropriate platforms and stockist relationships as breweries digitise can be a minefield.

    Recently Carlton and United Breweries faced criticism from publican Rob Comiskey, owner of major Queensland venues Eatons Hill and Sandstone Point Hotels as well as numerous bottle shops. He accused the brewer of undercutting its own stockists by listing on third party sites and cutting prices on CUB-owned platform BoozeBud.

    “They’re the wholesaler, the manufacturer and now they want to be the retailer. It’s pure greed,” Comiskey told 7News Brisbane.

    CUB responded saying that losing a pub customer would be very disappointing.

    “Like most businesses in a rapidly evolving market CUB constantly reviews its business strategies, including ecommerce. We are assessing our ecommerce strategy during the second half of 2020 to determine whether it’s right,” a CUB spokesperson told Brews News.

    CUB went on to say it had already ruled out pursuing a direct-to-consumer subscription model, but the dispute highlights the difficulty of getting the balance between manufacturer and venue or bottle shop right, especially as brewers expand into digital platforms to compete for an ever-greater slice of a finite pie.

    It’s a multi-faceted issue. Big brewers and smaller independents face different challenges, and brewers are still learning to get it right.

    Flood of online platforms

    During COVID-19, online alcohol platforms flooded the market as businesses attempted to capitalise on a captive home-based audience caused by lockdown restrictions.

    Third party or aggregate platforms such as Get Drinks Delivered, Bopple, Hello Drinks and Amazon’s Beer Wine and Spirits platform have sprung up both during COVID-19 and prior providing overwhelming choice for consumers, and brewers have seen them as a chance to get some of their core range beers to a wider audience.

    Sam Holloway, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at the University of Portland and creator of online curriculum Crafting A Strategy, said that while COVID-19 forced craft breweries into unfamiliar online territory, it also opened up new markets and customer segments previously not on their radar.

    He said that innovations in sectors as disparate as airline tickets sales, grocery shopping and investments had forced incumbent firms to create new purchasing experiences, as consumers increasingly expect to complete purchases via mobile.

    “Craft beer was late to this game because we all loved the experience of visiting taprooms… and while people like me still love taprooms for these experiences there are other segments who prefer to bring that experience home,” he said.

    Holloway explained that this could also provide a competitive opportunity for independent brewers to level the playing field with major brewers and their “craft” acquisitions, many of which already had platforms set up.

    Swinburne University of Technology lecturer Dr. Jason Pallant agreed and said that the trend is a smart move for the whole industry.

    “If we look across the broader retail service sector, we’ve seen everybody going through the same evolution, and the same speeding up of things that were already happening over COVID-19.

    “What it comes back to is that this is how consumers shop and how they evolved – they see an example and then they expect that.”

    But signing up to third party platforms or launching your own direct-to-consumer model can have its pitfalls, as New Zealand’s Garage Project found out when it moved into the Australian market with its own platform.

    Direct-to-customer – a natural evolution

    If moving to more diverse sales models is inevitable and has only been accelerated by COVID, then it’s up to brewers to traverse the space and keep customers and bricks-and-mortar stockists happy too.

    Dr. Pallant said that for smaller brewers, different channels, from retail stores and venues to aggregate or brewer’s own websites, satisfy different consumer demands which can work in a brewer’s favour.

    “To me they serve very different needs and purposes, and actually the overlap and competition is not as much as we might think,” he said.

    “It doesn’t change stockist sales that much, allowing more hardcore fans to support that brewery directly.”

    Pallant said that it was a balancing act, but it’s a space that brewers need to be in.

    “You don’t want to miss out on anyone that has evolved to become an online shopper, you’ve lost them if you can’t offer that.”

    But as the Comiskey example has shown, one of the main issues with diversifying your sales platforms is pricing.

    “It is an important discussion for people to be having, as we don’t want to anger stockists as they’re such a massive part [of a brewery’s trade],” Dr Pallant said.

    While it’s important to get this balance right, it might not be a dealbreaker for breweries wishing to support their venues and other stockists whilst also opening another channel for themselves.

    “As we’ve seen in fashion, if I take Nike as an example, you can buy the brand direct or from Footlocker and usually they’re the same price.

    “The view that you can’t sell direct because you have stockists, that’s a view that evolves over time. It will become more commonplace in brewing – it comes back to this idea that this is where the consumers are so we have to all be doing it.”

    Diversifying your offering so limited releases and alternative offers are available on your own direct-to-consumer channel will reduce crossover and cater to a loyal fanbase, while a shifting mainstream audience will be serviced on other platforms and outlets.

    “Someone coming directly to you, they know you and your beers so you need to offer your core range, but they are also interested in stuff they can’t get elsewhere – experimental sours and that kind of thing.

    “So that’s a very different proposition to the couple of parts of a range that will be in a mass stockist.”

    Having a smaller section of the core range on major platforms will allow people to be exposed to the brand, before they go on to explore the brand further on a brewery’s own platform.

    “The best way is a combined strategy where things support each other,” Dr. Pallant said.

    Accessing new customers

    Dr. Gavin Northey, lecturer at Griffith University, said that the online trend will also bring in new consumers to the growing industry.

    With Australia’s changing demographics comes a focus on ‘premiumisation’ trends implying people are drinking ‘less but better’, as well as major influence from Asian cultures which, he explained, tend to be more modest drinkers as well as more technologically-engaged.

    “[We are seeing the influence of] cultures which are way more accepting of e-commerce.

    “That changes things for a brewery. If that’s the case then the younger generation might not be the types to go to those live venues bars and clubs, they may still be going to restaurants, but they might get the types of people more willing to use their mobile phone to buy something.

    “It’s a social change that we’re seeing happen in the developed world, and one that’s important for breweries to keep at front of mind.”

    However there is a danger of fragmentation with so many different platforms – sending customers to multiple different platforms can induce fatigue in buyers – a ‘death by choice’ situation which may lead to one final ‘winner’ in the vein of Uber or AirBnb. But Holloway was not concerned.

    “[A] benefit of fragmentation increasing is that innovation and access to market increase for more firms and more diverse firms,” said Holloway.

    “Consolidation has historically ruled many industries – as soon as new sources of value are created, incumbent firms swoop in and roll-up the industry to use scale advantages.

    “While these may drive prices down they also remove the number of choices a consumer has. In craft beer in particular choice is king. We’ve created a very promiscuous consumer base who expects to try something new every time. These new online channels really capitalise on promiscuity and fragmentation.”

    Independence and major platforms

    One of the hallmarks of Australia’s craft beer scene has been its focus on independence. But when an online platform like Amazon (which has similar attributes to corporate brewers in that it is owned by a foreign entity with profits going overseas and pays minimal tax in Australia) features independent companies, it can problematise the concept of independence.

    Dr. Pallant suggested that the question really centres on what a brewer values in its business and brand.

    “It is a tough one and I think it depends. There are two ways you can look at it. Independence implies that no one is controlling what the brewery does, in terms of telling them that they must produce this because it is the most profitable or sells the most, whereas distributing through Amazon is just a way of people being able to access your products, so there is a slight difference but I can understand, it comes back to branding and positioning.

    “If your positioning is ‘we’re for our local community’, be it the Mornington Peninsula, or Byron or whatever, it’s a bit strange to say we are selling through this conglomerate.”

    However these ideological concerns often play second fiddle to paying the bills.

    “From a practical standpoint, you are potentially losing out on customers. You don’t have to be on a platform like Amazon but you need to be offering something so people who are not near you can access your products if that’s the direction you want to go,” Pallant said.

    He said part of independent beer’s allure is that it’s harder to come by, and Brisbane’s Range Brewing is one of those that is benefitting from working the supply and demand equation.

    “At the start it was hard to find a Stone & Wood Pacific Ale, for example.

    “Now they’re everywhere, so it’s less exciting for me to see a Stone & Wood because I can access it all the time, but from a mass distribution point of view it makes sense.

    “It comes back to the goal, and the branding and positioning of that brewer. Are they just for locals and accept that that will limit their ability to get their beer to people, or are they saying we’ve got great craft beer and everyone should be able to access it, in which case it makes sense [to list on a bigger platform]?”

    Listen to Sam Holloway on the Beer is a Conversation podcast where he discusses independence, growth ceilings for craft beer and more.

  • News Bites
    09 July 2020

    The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation provided updated COVID-19 information for the latest lockdown and announced that wholesale liquor sales data reporting is open for relevant licensees, who must report wholesale liquor sales data no later than 15th August.

    The NSW Government announced that from yesterday (Wednesday 8th July) NSW will temporarily shut its border with Victoria to contain the spread of COVID-19. Fines and penalties apply for non-compliance.

    Founders First brewery Sparkke at the Whitmore was the recipient of two awards at the AIA’s South Australian Architecture Awards.

    The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell is backing the country’s accounting bodies which have called on the Government to provide small businesses with better access to financial advice through a voucher system. Find out more.

    Ballistic Beer’s venues in Brisbane and Ipswich are reopening on 11th July.

    In Queensland, new amendments to planning laws will allow public notice requirements to be completed through digital or other online media to advertise development applications. Learn more about planning legislation amendments.

    Wayward Brewing Co. has teamed up with Smoking Coals Barbecue to create a Wayward Fried Chicken recipe using its Raspberry Berliner Weisse. Recipe here.

    News from elsewhere

    British sustainable packaging company Frugalpac has launched a wine bottle made from 94% recycled paperboard, which it said has 16 per cent of the carbon footprint of glass.

    US brewers are facing “financial ruin” due to uncertain tax rates according to the country’s Brewers Association.

    Pub closures are putting the UK hop industry under serious pressure.

    Canadian farmers are benefiting from the hostilities between China and Australia, which has led to China posing an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley.

  • ‘We’re staring into the abyss’
    09 July 2020

    As Melbourne’s beer industry attempts to navigate yet another period of uncertainty, thoughts are turning to whether some businesses will ever recover.

    Just as a “brief moment of sunshine peered through the clouds” the outlook is grim once again as breweries and bars revert back to either a takeaway only model or close for the indefinite future.

    Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s statement yesterday, that he will be revealing a “a new phase of income support” in relation to current wage subsidies on July 23, will come as a massive relief to many of the city’s hospitality businesses, but that is only one aspect in a range of uncertainties.

    For Steve Jeffares, co-founder of one of Melbourne’s more well known breweries, Stomping Ground, “cracks were starting to show” in his normally steely resolve, and he felt that six weeks of lockdown was a significant amount of time.

    As well as their Collingwood-based brewery, Stomping Ground operate a brewery and bar at Melbourne Airport, while a new brewpub is planned for the south east of the city in the new Morris Moor redevelopment.

    “We’re staring into the abyss. Much is unknown at this stage,” he said.

    “The longer this all goes on, the longer it is going to take to recover. It is a massive setback for us. There is a very dark cloud looming for many in the (Melbourne) industry.”

    When restrictions lifted back in early June, he said “people were chomping at the bit” to return to a level of normalcy in places like his brewpub and there was real anticipation for a further easing of restrictions “to allow businesses to bounce back”. But subsequent quashing of those hopes had been “a reality check”.

    “The levels of anxiety within our industry have dialled up as the cases of infections have grown.”

    For Bar Josephine owner Aaron Donato, it’s time to return his Footscray craft beer bar to a state of total shutdown – as it was for the three months following the initial lockdown period that started in late March.

    He reopened on June 22 “for a weird few weeks, when a brief moment of sunshine peered through the clouds”.

    “It’s crushing to see businesses that were successful and viable months ago, including mine, now staring down the barrel of oblivion,” he said.

    Donato also owns the Pie Thief pie shop and a new cocktail bar Troubles in Dreams. Both are in close vicinity to Bar Josephine. The latter only opened its doors in recent weeks. It too is now shut indefinitely.

    “It feels like shifting sands because no one knows where this is heading. The government doesn’t know. In six weeks there may still be outbreaks.

    “Many in the beer industry are already burnt out. We’ve been pivoting, and scrambling, and cancelling orders, and pouring over government legislation. You make a plan and then 24 hours later it is in the bin because the goal posts have moved. You owe it to your staff and your community to fight on, but it is exhausting.”

    But fight on they must, and they say they will.

    Jeffares said, “if you look hard enough, there are positives”.

    “Like most fellow breweries in Melbourne, we received extraordinary support from the community through the first lockdown and hopefully that is again the case now.”

    He said their online store had proved a success over recent months and created “unexpected revenue”. They had been canning beer more frequently than ever before and would now continue that model, along with sales of their variety packs and other methods allowed under the Level 3 restrictions.

    “We’re really proud with how we’ve managed recent setbacks and we’ll continue to do what we can for our staff, for as long as we can.”

    Moon Dog Brewery, who operate two venues in Abbotsford and Preston, are confident they can navigate this period.

    “People are feeling deflated, and it is far from ideal, but we’re confident we can get through,” Moon Dog’s brand marketing manager Brook Hornung said.

    “We’ve done this before and perhaps it will be easier this time to go back to what worked, like our takeaway and delivery services.

    “We will be doing as many things as we can to survive and to redeploy our staff back in to other aspects of the business.”

    Bar Josephine’s Donato said an extension of JobKeeper beyond the originally planned September cutoff was paramount to the survival of local small businesses.

    “If JobKeeper didn’t happen. If the state government didn’t provide grants to small businesses, then we’d all be screwed right now,” he said.

    “It’s not like JobKeeper has stopped the bills coming in. It means that we’re not bleeding to death. We’re trickling blood instead.”

    ContactBeer & Brewer by clicking here to share your news and views.

    The post ‘We’re staring into the abyss’ appeared first on Beer & Brewer.

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