We all know how easy it is to come up with what we think is a great business idea over perhaps one too many pints, which quickly gets forgotten about the morning after.

Well, the idea to bring Hofmeister back to the beer market wasn't just a spur of the moment decision.

Instead it was the culmination of some 20 years of us both working together - predominantly in creating alcohol gift products for major retailers and drinks producers - and quietly talking about one day having a business, or a brand, of our own.

We never envisaged that would mean going back in time to re-invent what was effectively a dead beer brand. But as soon as we found out, in mid 2015, there might be a chance of Heineken, Hofmeister's then registered owner, of allowing us to do exactly that, then that's when our entrepreneurial spirit kicked in.

 

 

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Richard Longhurst and Spencer Chambers are bringing back the bear

 

But why Hofmeister? For a start breathing fresh life in to brands was very much our core skill during our gifting days, constantly coming up with new ideas and concepts to revive the fortunes of existing drinks brands. We knew and could see the potential that Hofmeister had.

You have to remember that in its heyday, admittedly as an unashamedly high volume, pile it high standard lager brand, Hofmeister was big business. Launched by Scottish Courage in 1977 it had grown by the late eighties to be one of the UK's Top 5 beer brands.

What's more George the bear had become a famous household figure in his own right thanks to the cheeky TV advertising campaigns that ran in the 1980s and 1990s. That affection still exists today with a Channel 4 'Top 100 Adverts of All Time' featuring George and his "Follow the Bear" catchline at number 58.

 

 

 

 

But whilst the majority of brands in that Top 50 still exist today, Hofmeister had been allowed to fade away. So the chance to bring back such a once much loved brand and re-invent it for beer drinkers today was such an incredible opportunity.

That said you can't get away with a run of the mill standard beer brand in this market.

Nostalgia and an affectionate nod to the old Hofmeister bear might get the initial attention of buyers old enough to remember it, but they will quickly lose interest if there is no real commercial substance to back it up.

But dig in to Hofmeister's past and that's why this is such an exciting brand to bring back.

For the famous Hofmeister bear - admittedly dreamt up by the Scottish Courage brand development team - actually came from the forests of Bavaria and the heart of Germany's illustrious brewing community. To get to the heart of Hofmeister we needed to 'follow the bear' back to his roots.

Which is what we have painstakingly done. Working with countless local Bavarian brewers to find the right one capable of producing the genuine Helles lager that would hopefully help not just make Hofmeister famous again, but bring an authentic Bavarian beer to the UK pub trade for arguably the first time.

 

 

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Every keg, bottle and barrel of Hofmeister is made following Germany's 1516 Reinheitsgebot Beer Purity Law. It is produced by fourth-generation brewery, Schweiger, on the edge of the Ebersberger forest using local Hallertau hops, natural spring water and barley from nearby Bavarian farmers to produce as much an honest, artisan German beer as it is a re-invention of a famous UK beer brand.

But making the beer is the easy bit. Finding a market and audience for it in the UK is where the real hard work has begun.

We might be bringing back what was once a mega million beer brand, but we are doing so with humble intentions. Distribution is being gained pub by pub, outlet by outlet, region by region.

We want the beer to do the talking for us. Taste it, drink it and see what you think.

 

  • Next time we will look at what opportunities we think there are for an authentic Bavarian beer brand in the UK and for Helles Lager specifically.