Beerlines

Insights on beer marketing & PR by a beer-war vet

Archive for the 'Mountain Goat' Category

24 November
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200 Australian breweries mark an historic high

Australian brewery numbers have reached a high not seen for over a century.

This was the good news from Australian brewing historian Dr Brett Stubbs.  See his research work here.

Over the years I’ve had many conversations with Brett about Australia’s brewing heritage. Often these chats were about the massive decline in small breweries across Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This rapid decline was in response to advances in brewing and transport technologies, stiff competition from large city-based breweries, and new Federal supervision but also rationalisation due to economic downturn (thanks Brett!).

My interest was in the role this phase had in setting up the state-based dominance of mega-breweries like Castlemaine Perkins Limited, Tooheys, Cascade, CUB and Swan.

Brewer, and member of the Craft Beer Industry Association, Dave Bonighton at the Mountain Goat brewery. Source: ABC Rural website. Pic: Cath McAloon

One of an increasing number of successful Australian craft brewers, Dave Bonighton, at the Mountain Goat brewery. He’s a member of the Craft Beer Industry Association. Source: ABC Rural website. Pic: Cath McAloon

“The trend is your friend” so they say
A recent article by Brett highlights an important brewing milestone. It tells some good news about the current number of breweries across Australia. With Brett’s permission I’m pleased to share this good news story in full. Enjoy .. Read more…

30 March
Comments Off on Craft beer winning the ‘eye level’ war in retail

Craft beer winning the ‘eye level’ war in retail

For decades major brewers have competed and paid heftily to secure choice, high-profile positions in major retailers’ bottle shops and liquor barns.

The visual customer-facing beer war at POS
Every customer-facing cubic centimetre was precious turf. It was (and remains) a very competitive visual war for beer brand presence in major retailers.

And the big brewers were all over it! They owned it – they thought. Indeed, they devised their own science to prove it: ‘space planning’ and ‘planograms’ and whatever.

The most highly sought after POS placements in retailers’ fridges are, of course, at eye level. The grab-and-go slot.

So for years, what have we seen at eye-level? Usually six packs of VB or Tooheys Extra Dry or XXXX Gold; the result of big brewers with big brands paying the big retailers big bucks.

Craft now dominates at eye level
But a trip to Woolworths’ owned BWS shows how times have changed. Craft beers are front and centre.

This pic from BWS South Melbourne was central to the fridge fronts. There was no VB or Carlton Draught in this frontage at all. Those brands were back in the cold room.

bws2

Clearly BWS is on top of consumer interest at retail. And the consumer increasingly wants something new to try: an interesting brand or style to drink and brag about.

Okay, quite a few of the craft brands in this BWS are Woolies’ own private labels (often called faux craft) and clearly the retailers are making better margins, but the takeout is clear: craft has won this particular POS battle.

Big brewer versus big retailer – control of the POS
For years the big brewers believed this key point of sale in retail was theirs.

That sense of entitlement, I suspect, has rankled the big retailers for some time.

These facings must seriously be pissing big brewers off no end. Especially, as you can bet many of these small craft brewers are paying nowhere near as much for the privilege.

Interesting times at POS. And for that .. Cheers!

08 March
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Beer provenance revisited: lack of transparency still a hot issue

On the matter of beer provenance I must highlight and hat tip the role Matt Kirkegaard, arguably Australia’s leading beer commentator and blogger, has played in bringing this issue to prominence.

After penning my previous post I came across an earlier post and podcast by Matt about beer provenance concerns. I urge you to read and listen to this interview with Dr Chuck Hahn by clicking on the RBN pic immediately below. Maybe miss the preamble and start 10 minutes in.

rbn chuck

While contacting Matt, beerlines took the opportunity to quickly interview him on beer provenance and secure an update on his thoughts.

Beerlines: “As Editor of Australian Brews News is provenance becoming more important? If so is there any variation between small and big brewers?”

Kirkegaard: “It’s an interesting question.

“As our shelves become more cluttered with a wider array of beers, consumers are looking to brand values as much as flavour to aid their selection.

“It’s here that provenance can really matter. It’s also here that large and small brewers can be pushing things a little too far and muddying the provenance waters.Byron_Bay_Pale_Lager_Carton_6_x_4_330ml

“While it’s very easy to point the finger at beers such as CUB’s outright deception with Byron Bay Lager, or LION’s highly dubious labelling of Kosciuszko Pale Ale, they can quite rightly point their fingers at smaller brewers who have taken the ‘we don’t hide it, but we just don’t advertise the fact’ line when it comes to own their own contract brewing.kosciuszko

“It really doesn’t matter to the quality of the beer, but the unwillingness to be open gives everyone the right to hedge a little and that hurts craft.

Unwillingness to be completely upfront .. lowers the craft bar
“While in one sense I can understand their thinking, it’s the craft brewers’ own unwillingness to be completely upfront that allows the debauching of the craft beer market by the likes of Coles’ Steamrail brand for example: indeed one beerlines used in earlier posts.

new dan murphys_1480

“When Coles can point to their product and say, quite honestly, that it comes from the same brewery as Mountain Goat’s Steam Ale and Summer Ale, and Mountain Goat offers nothing to differentiate their beer .. well, it lowers the craft bar. Read more…

06 November
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Ale or lager: what’s the difference? Master Brewer Dermot O’Donnell explains

Ale or lager?

Many beer drinkers happily enjoy both styles without really knowing the difference. And why shouldn’t they? Many ales and lagers look pretty much the same and they both taste like .. well.. beer.

Beer 101
It’s a fundamental ‘beer 101’ question I agree: some beer aficionados will scoff and roll their eyes. Regardless: many beer lovers simply don’t know. So clearly it’s a ‘beer PR 101’ question as well. Hence this post ..

To help answer the question beerlines asked one of Australia’s most highly regarded brewers and beer judges: Dermot O’Donnell. You can read his impressive resume below.

But first: here are three short video interviews where Dermot explains the difference between ales and lagers.

VODCAST ONE: ALES VERSUS LAGERS – INTRODUCTION
First: a bit of history and why ales were a happy accident indeed, “a gift from God!”

VODCAST TWO: ALES VERSUS LAGERS – ALES
Dermot explains more about the peculiarities of flavour that are often found in ales.

VODCAST THREE: ALES VERSUS LAGERS – LAGERS
Australia’s favourite: a frosty cold lager. Dermot explains why.

Dermot O’Donnell
The list of successful national beers Dermot has brewed is massive. It fills an A4 page.

He’s worked for both Australia’s major brewers and consulted to many others. Currently Dermot is Brewmaster for Coca Cola Amatil. And, please note his comments in beerlines are his own.

Dermot has spent over 40 years in the beverage game, mainly in brewing. He says he was fortunate enough to get his first job working in brewery and has since worked in all aspects of making beer including research and marketing. Speaking of marketers, Dermot has a well-deserved reputation with them for understanding the consumer and designing for the particular niche the marketers wish to target. A rare skill.

Victorian born and bred, Dermot has brewed in Melbourne, Sydney and the UK, where he gained Master Brewer qualifications from the University of Birmingham and the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. He is also a Fellow of the Institute .

Thanks Dermot. Cheers!