“Saturated” Cumbria beer market forces brewer abroad
THE boss of Cumbria’s Hardknott Brewery says he is being forced to sell his award winning beers overseas due to a “saturated” local market where breweries are increasingly competing on price rather than quality.
Brewer Dave Bailey and wife Ann travelled to the International Craft Brewing and Distilling Convention in Dublin last week and won bronze medals for their Azimuth and Continuum brews in the International Craft Beer Cup.
Azimuth and Continuum were both picked as bronze medal winners out of a field of 120 beers entered into the International Craft Beer Cup.
The convention is run by Alltech, a $1 billion brewery based in the USA. Will Hanrahan, a representative from the organisers, travelled to see Dave and Ann earlier this summer especially to invite them to the convention.
Dave said: “We are delighted to have gained bronze alongside some very highly thought of international craft brewers. It proves that our strategy is correct if we are to compete on the world stage and bring revenue into the area.”
He said he was being forced to sell his products overseas due to high number of breweries in Cumbria saturating the market.
He said: “It’s almost amusing that it is easier some days to get my beer in Rome than it is in Ravenglass or Barcelona than Bowness.
“It does however lead to embarrassment when I get beer enthusiasts on holiday in The Lakes who have come from London, contacting me wanting to know where to get my beer in Cumbria.
“I find it difficult to know where to send them, other than The Woolpack Inn in Eskdale. I guess that’s the penalty of being better known in the wider craft beer world than the regular local market.
“It’s not that we don’t like Cumbria, quite the reverse. But there are a tremendous number of brewers in the county now and to survive we simply have to look more widely. It’s not that we object to selling our beer into Cumbrian pubs, but rather the market is a little saturated and many breweries are competing on price rather than quality.”
Rather than drop his prices at the expense of quality Dave said he preferred to sell to the world market and invest further in equipment, training and ingredients.
He said: “To compete effectively on a world stage it is important to create something different, something exciting. We are always on the lookout for that little extra that makes our beers stand out.
“If we dropped our prices to compete in Cumbria, simply to increase sales locally, we could not continue to grow, develop new products and invest in the economic future of the area. We simply need to remain head and shoulders above our competition.”
Mr Hanrahan said: “As an Englishman now living in Kentucky (who fell in love with craft beer after living in California) I urged the organizers to allow me to return to the UK and start spreading the word about this event. At the top of my list of places to visit was Hardknott Brewery in Cumbria.
“Dave is pushing the boundaries with his beer, his beers don’t conform to those rules often set within the industry, for example Queboid that we served from keg during the convention on our British beer wall – a beer difficult to define a style, was it a Belgian-style Double IPA? While they still offer quality cask beers and bottle conditioned ales, tipping his hat to the British traditions. ”