Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A taste of the Lakes

Interesting news from Robinson’s that they have reached an agreement with Hawkshead Brewery to put Hawkshead’s highly-regarded Lakeland Lager into some of their Cumbrian pubs as a “premium niche product”. This further underlines the quiet revolution that is taking place in the lager market, with the traditional staples of Foster’s, Carling and Stella, with their laddish image, increasingly losing sales to products that are seen as more distinctive, authentic and upmarket. It reinforces the point I have made in the past that the big opportunity for smaller craft brewers to expand their keg sales is in lager, not in ale. Given that lager still accounts for two-thirds of the draught beer market (and even more of the packaged market) that offers huge scope for brewers such as Hawkshead.

It would also be good to see beers such as Windermere Pale and Lakeland Gold appearing as guests in Robinson’s pubs around here.


  1. All the British craft lagers I have drunk have been top notch, and this one is a top lout.

    Foster’s, Carling and Stella have been discounted to death. The brands have been cash cow'd in the off trade and the on trade needs to justify a premium price, or a "star" in the growth share matrix.

    My view is the UK lager sector needs strong branding, and the likes of Peroni & Budvar are more in the ascendency than UK micro lagers. Anti branding types tend to prefer the micro ale market.

    It's a pity CAMRA do not champion UK lager. You are more likely to see Budvar at one of your pong and vinegar festivals than an authentic UK brewed lager, though its not the bearded remit.

  2. Good news, indeed. I also agree with you about other Hawkshead beers, but I doubt that would happen as they would surely impact on Robbies own bee sales.

  3. Well, it looks as though Robbies have already put their toe in the guest beer water now in a few pubs. There seems to be quite a dramatic change in the company's business strategy taking place.

    And apparently Hydes new brewery will only have an annual capacity of 5,000 barrels, which is only just over one barrel per pub per week, so they must be expecting the bulk of their beer sales to be bought-in.

  4. I agree with your point. The ale market is close to being saturated, but the quality lager market is ripe for the picking. If I did draught lager in my pub, I would be looking for one of the quality local things, rather than premium imported stuff.

  5. Saga, do you think you are maybe cutting off your nose to spite your face by not stocking even a local craft lager in your pub? Most beer enthusiast pubs I know also have some pretty decent lagers, if that's your bag.

  6. Possibly. But it's such a small pub that the economics of stocking a beer that you're only likely to sell half a barrel a week of, make it difficult. The cooler alone probably costs over £20 a week. I do stock nice bottled lagers at a good price, e.g. £3.35 for 500ml Krombacher. I have other German ones in stock, but am looking at some of the nicer British ones for the future.

  7. http://www.metro.co.uk/lifestyle/892326-brew-haha-why-british-breweries-are-turning-their-attention-to-lager

    It's almost as though they read your piece and pinched the idea for a story. But Metro journalists wouldn't do that, of course.


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