Less but better beer

The next generation will be “drinking less, but better”, choosing local independent craft beers over mass-produced brews, according to a new report by the Society of Independent Brewers.

The Craft Beer Report 2019 showed a 0.8% increase in the volume of beer being produced by SIBA members to 2.86 million hectolitres.

However, craft beer has “yet to really make its mark in the wider hotel, restaurant and catering arena”, the report notes. The promised “freeing up” of bar space for craft beers through the post-Pubs Code hasn’t yet materialised – large brewers have been incentivising licensees with investment and marketing spend that has “in effect ‘tied’ bar space to their products even in a free-of-tie site”.

The large national and international brewers have also tapped into the craft market, but this could be good news for smaller producers, SIBA suggested. It cited evidence showing that drinkers commonly go on a journey through different categories of beer to reach craft option – they will “often start with standard lager, then progress through ‘crafty’ beer [from the large brewers] to local independent craft beers”.

A SIBA YouGov survey carried out in February 2019 showed 43% of consumers thought “craft” beer should be from a small brewer. Mintel research has also found that 47% of consumers expect craft beer to have a unique flavour, and 42% believe craft beer uses better quality ingredients.

Mintel has also found that younger consumers increasingly value and will seek out “genuine” products with heritage, a hand-crafted nature and trusted values. Also, 45% of consumers said they are willing to pay more for craft beverages.

“All evidence points towards a shift in drinking habits towards quality, and away from the volume drinking of years gone by,” said the report’s editor Caroline Nodder. “We’re seeing brewers be more adventurous in what they offer young beer drinkers – in response to the trend for drinking less, but better.”

The Financial Times recently reported that AB InBev has set its sights on new products, including craft beer for women.

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