Brewing up a storm: Craft beer sales continue to climb

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Craft beer Brewing Alcoholic beverage Public house

Craft beer sales have risen by 84 per cent for draught and 40 per cent for packaged in the past year
Craft beer sales have risen by 84 per cent for draught and 40 per cent for packaged in the past year
While many drinks categories in the UK on-trade are declining in sales, craft beer is bucking the trend, with a sales growth of 79 per cent in the past year equating to 74 million pints being sold in pubs and bars across the country.

According to new research from food & drink consultants CGA Strategy, the craft beer category now equates to 1.9 per cent of total beer volumes with year-on-year sales increasing 84 per cent for draught and 40 per cent for packaged.

“With the modern-day discerning yet fickle consumer it is vital that outlets look at their range, offer choice and the invitation to experiment,” said CGA’s chief operating officer Phil Tate. “Craft can play that role and rotating them can keep the offer fresh.

“Craft has been a source of much debate over recent months, illustrating the interest the category holds. Consumers are drawn to the modern branding that appeals to a younger and broader demographic.

“Consumer affinity to the category stems a thirst for discovery and an experience that they can introduce to their friends.”

Beating the supermarkets 

The Swift bar offers 40 different bottled and canned craft beers

As a younger, more discerning consumer  turns to the craft beer category, it is no surprise that a plethora of new brands are being created or imported to appeal to them, and established brewers are changing their strategies to focus on more traditional production processes in a bid to tap into the drinks category which is now worth £225m.

One of those businesses, London-based brewer and pub operator Fuller’s, which stocks 40 different bottled and canned craft beers from around the world in its new American diner-style bar concept, The Swift, which opened last week (8 August).

Andrew Durn, development manager at Fuller’s, told BigHospitality: “Craft beer is a really big trend. It’s becoming more and more relevant in people’s thought process when they’re going out. Here we’ve gone down the American craft route.

“I think this is what consumers are looking for - it’s something a bit different. People are fed up with walking into pubs and seeing stuff they can buy in supermarkets for a premium price. They want something more unique, and I think craft beer fills that gap.”

Video: Beer School

Scottish brewer and pub operator BrewDog is another business which is cashing in on the rise of craft beer. The maverick brewery, which is on track to turnover £20m in 2013, built a new eco-brewery last year thanks to its on-going crowdfunding initiative, Equity for Punks.

The below video shows the brewing process BrewDog undertakes for its craft beers.


American and Scottish

Earlier this year, Beds & Bars, the UK-based hostel and bar group, launched Jake’s Place- a craft beer bar in Edinburgh which lists some 65 American and Scottish craft beers on its drinks menu.

Iain Dempster from the London-based group explained that the trend is one that has been growing over the past year as more brands have been recognising the opportunity: “We are probably about six to eight months into a trend here in Edinburgh,” said Dempster. “Some other craft beer players have opened up here but there are none that specialise purely in American and Scottish craft beer, whisky and bourbon – that is it apart from soft drinks.”

CGA audited of all 5,000 beer brands within the GB market to create a breakdown of the craft category, based on empirical data and consumer research.

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