Breweries work in collaboration

Craft beers join forces to push sale of ale into overseas markets

Drygate Brewer
Drygate’s Brewing Collective: Alessandra Confessore, Jake Griffin & Ed Evans

A company launched to promote Scottish beers overseas has signed up 19 brewers across the country to create an influential export group.

Craft Beer Clan of Scotland, launched last year by Glasgow-based food and drink wholesaler JW Filshill is targeting a £2.5 million in sales over five years. It is exporting to burgeoning markets in the Asia Pacific region, and is also in advanced discussions with distributors in Canada, Dubai, Japan, North America and Scandinavia.

“We’ve assembled 19 award-winning craft breweries creating all beer types from porters to peat-smoked beers to the very best pale ales and craft lagers,” said the company’s Chris Miller, head of export and commercial operations at JW Filshill International.

Beer industry veteran Miller, who is also chief executive of Solstice Brands which develops collaborative growth strategies and commercial support for craft beer producers in both domestic and international markets, added: “We’ve proved we have a business model that works – one that is based on collaboration and establishing trusted relationships at local, regional, national and international level.

“We have brought together these amazing craft breweries whose owners are extremely forward-thinking and recognise that we have the experience and well-connected partners in key exports markets,” he said. “Our strategy has been to identify an opportunity to target consumers who already love and buy Scotch whisky but want to try something new with a great story behind it – and that’s what these breweries and their brands have.”

Joining the initial four members of Craft Beer Clan – William Bros Brewing Company, based in Alloa; Eden Brewery of St Andrews; Perth-based Inveralmond Brewery; and the Deeside Brewery, Banchory – are the high-profile Glasgow-based West and Drygate breweries (pictured), Edinburgh’s Caledonian Brewery, Loch Ness Brewery, Lerwick Brewery and Speyside Craft Brewery.

Other brewers which have joined the Clan include Black Wolf Brewery, Brewmeister, Broughton Ales, Fyne Ales, Jaw Brew, Knops Beer Company, Loch Lomond Brewery, Stewart Brewing and Tennent Caledonian.

“We’re working with the breweries very much on an individual basis,” said Miller. “For example, Williams Bros, one of the biggest and longest-established craft brewers in Scotland, is already exporting to around 20 countries but is using the expertise of Craft Beer Clan to target new business in markets it hasn’t yet penetrated. Others such as Jaw Brew, a husband-and-wife team in Glasgow who only set up in business last year, require more help and we’re in a position to tailor our services to their specific requirements.”

Craft Beer Clan, which is working collaboratively with Scottish Development International (SDI), Scottish Enterprise and Scotland Food & Drink, is also backing the recently launched Scottish Government-funded industry group The Brewers’ Association of Scotland (TBAS) which aims to support, promote and safeguard the future of the industry.

Simon HannahSimon Hannah, chief executive of Craft Beer Clan (left), said: “From the offset we wanted to collaborate with people who have experience in the markets we are targeting.” He has brought together a heavyweight team including David Moore, a GlobalScot who founded consultancy business Eastmoore when he returned to Scotland in 2013 after working for 12 years throughout Asia Pacific with Diageo.

The other “Clansmen” are: Charles MacLean, one of world’s leading whisky writers who is both well-known and well-connected in Asia; JongWoo Kim, who has more than 25 years in the global consumer packaged goods industry having worked in markets such as Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan and Switzerland, and led Diageo’s North Asia business for more than six years; and Joe Tcheng, a Keeper of the Quaich who has 30-plus years’ leadership experience in the consumer goods sector across Asia, and was managing director of South East Asia and latterly Greater China for Diageo.

“It’s important that we have people on the ground who really understand the culture of the countries we’re targeting because business is very much about relationships,” Hannah continued.

“With David, JongWoo and Joe building those relationships with distributors and retailers, and Charles’ understanding of what consumers want, we are in an exceptionally strong position to represent the diverse and unique product ranges that the 19 Craft Beer Clan members produce.”

At Perth-based Inveralmond Brewery, commercial director Bob Hogg commented: “We’re confident that this category approach to Scottish craft beer will be a successful concept both in the UK domestic trade and in international markets.

“We’ve already shipped to China and are currently looking at other markets both at home and overseas. We wholeheartedly support the objectives of the Craft Beer Clan and look forward to a long and profitable relationship.”

Meanwhile, Craft Beer Clan has also been helping boost UK sales for some of the breweries, using JW Filshill’s expertise of the convenience store market in which is supplies 163 KeyStore outlets across Scotland and the north of England. Isla Mercer, sales and marketing manager of Lerwick Brewery, whose products include 60˚ North Lager, Skipper’s Ticket Pale Ale and Tushkar Oatmeal Stout, said: “We’re growing very fast but as a small, family-run business we don’t have the reach in terms of personnel to target these key, new markets.

“For us, being part of the ‘Clan’ means we can speak to other independent breweries and share useful information,” Mercer added. “When you’re on your own in a remote location you can often miss out on that type of interaction so that’s been another really valuable aspect of joining the Craft Beer Clan partnership.

“While they’ve been helping us build sales on the Scottish mainland and in the north of England, we’re also working with Chris to identify export opportunities – that’s something we’re particularly excited about. We really want to get the message out there – both at home and overseas – that Scotland has a vibrant craft and artisan beer market.”

According to Miller, the fact that Craft Beer Clan can provide a range of packs for retailers and distributors is a major plus point. “We learned very quickly in our new Asia Pacific markets that women are just as adventurous as men when it comes to discovering new taste sensations,” he said. “The bigger 50cl bottles don’t always appeal and we’ve found that women and new entrants to the craft beer sector will trial the smaller 33cl packs,

“While we’re able to offer all formats – nine-gallon casks, 30-litre kegs, disposable kegs and both 33cl and 50cl bottles – we see the smaller pack as a more female-friendly format for the UK convenience store sector as well as some of our export markets.

“With 19 breweries on board we are keen to expand membership of Craft Beer Clan to those like-minded businesses seeking to develop new and existing markets.”

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