German beers have long been bywords for everything that is great about beer but, in a world of local and craft beer, is there still an opportunity for the German beers?
We asked some movers and shakers to answer our questions.
Can authentic German beers work in pubs where the mainstream lagers dominate?
Stephan Kofler, sales and marketing director, Krombacher UK:
"I think the craft message has reverberated around beer drinkers as a whole and even if they are not interested in weird and wacky beer styles, they are definitely becoming more discerning in their lager choices and are searching for quality over quantity.
"Gone are the days when an insipid mainstream lager was king of the bar – now consumers are looking for something more than a catchy advertising campaign. They want to know about how beers are produced, with what ingredients and by who.
"With the on-trade as competitive as ever, licensees are also realising that brands like Krombacher can be very beneficial to the bottom line. Not only can they help set venues apart from the competition, provide a point of difference and add value to promotional activities, but they can also generate a premium price."
Is German beer still relevant in UK pubs?
Emma Hibbert, marketing director, Adnams (sole UK distributer of Bitburger)
"With the wide varieties of beer available in the UK today and the increasingly beer-curious consumer, German beers have a terrific opportunity to succeed in the UK. German beers offer a distinctive flavour, are clean and crisp and those imported from Germany often have a strong provenance and heritage.
"The UK beer market is highly competitive with many new UK craft brewers emerging; in order to succeed, German beers need to emphasise their provenance and ingredients, using social media to engage with consumers, as well as aligning with consumer trends towards lower alcohol.
"We distribute Bitburger Drive, an alcohol free beer (0.05% abv), which is brewed in exactly the same way as the full strength Bitburger beer and therefore retains the same flavours, which is unlike many alcohol-free beers. It has proved extremely popular with the UK market, and its taste marks the product out as different and has made it successful."
Are German beer brands appealing to UK drinkers?
Spencer Chambers, co-founder of Hofmeister
"We have all seen a huge demand for quality, premium world beers as consumers look to widen their drinking repertoires and experiment with authentic new ales and lagers with genuine provenance.
"It is why, after 13 years, we have brought Hofmeister back to the beer market. We feel the time is right for a genuine, craft produced Bavarian beer that is true to the 1516 Reinheitsgebot German Beer Purity Laws.
"We are also looking to finally introduce the UK beer drinker to the easy drinking style of slow brewed, low carbonated Helles lager. The emphasis is not on hops and strong fruit forward flavours, but on smooth, creamy, balanced beers that have wide appeal across both men and women. We only see this trend accelerating in the future."
Where are the opportunities for German beer?
Des Gallagher, category controller, Marston's (distributor of Erdinger, Warsteiner and Kaltenberg)
"We import Warsteiner, which is growing massively in both the on- and off-trade and recently we launched its award winning Fresh no alcohol brand in to the UK in Tesco to tap into the "healthier living" market.
"We also have Erdinger as part of our portfolio and Erdinger Alkoholfrei is driving growth in Europe and now the UK, being marketed as an isotonic regenerative drink and we think this will also tap into that "healthier living" sector.
"We also see the expanding Bierkeller and Oktoberfest style events in the autumn. The Wittelsbach family, the originators of the Oktoberfest, produce the Royal Bavarian Kaltenberg brand for the UK (Kaltenberg Castle is pictured above), which would be perfect for such events."
Can German brands compete against "trendier" beers?
David Bremner, director of marketing, Robinsons (distributor for Veltins in the north of the UK)
"Veltins does particularly well in our premium pubs as it provides them with a real point of difference. It's seven per cent up in our tenanted estate and 31 per cent oin our managed where we treat it as our own beer.
"For example, the 500ml Veltins bottle outsells Corona and Peroni in our pubs by 40 per cent – that's without any advertising. It's easy to keep and customers love the authenticity. The alcohol free version is also great."
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