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Trend spotting at the Great British Beer Festival

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Trend spotting at the Great British Beer Festival

Adventurous, exotic and unusual flavour combinations are a trend that will keep on growing within the craft beer industry. But as long as the consumer continues to dictate the market then the sky is the limit for the breweries not afraid to be brave, which is what Katie and Kamran found out when they were lucky enough to attend the Great British Beer Festival in Kensington Olympia.

Kamran and I were lucky enough to attend the Great British Beer Festival at Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre two weeks ago.

With around 1,000 ales, craft beers and ciders to drink, I was tasked by my Client Services Director (James) to try them all. Needless to say as a 5ft nothing girl I did not complete the challenge but I gave it a damn good go.

As I walked around the exhibition hall I identified some key industry trends.

The rise of American Craft beer has been a surprising industry development over the last several years, with the perception of American beers drastically changing. The world has been watching the transformation of American beers from being a joke to becoming highly respected and fashionable. It is now inspiring some stiff upper lip British brewers to try new things and get out of their comfort zone.

With this in mind, the rise and rise of British craft beer was an unsurprising theme, one that CAMRA had clearly honed in on. 23% of British people above the age of 18 have consumed a craft beer in the past six months; in London the figure is 38% (Mintel).  That sounds like a huge number but with over 70 craft breweries exhibiting at the show (and that’s just the ones in London) it was not surprising. The craft beer sector has seen an explosion of growth over the last few years, but why is that?

Much of the growth can be explained by the broadening of consumer demand tastes, with UK drinkers becoming more adventurous and searching out tastier and better quality products. But what does that have to do with craft beer? Well, I found that 50% of UK beer drinkers expect craft beer to taste better than non-craft beer such as Fosters or Budweiser (Mintel). So there lies some reasoning behind the growth.  Why? What’s driving that perception of craft beer as better tasting?

With the spirit of adventure on my mind I set off to find the most unusual beers I could. The Brains stand stood out to me so I wandered over to explore. I wasn’t at all convinced when the barman thrust theMicrobrewery’s smoked beer into my hand, but having lived in London for four years and the beer being affectionately named ‘The Big Smoke’, I couldn’t resist, could I? The verdict? Absolutely delicious. I couldn’t have had a whole pint but I could certainly see the appeal. Smokey beers are not a new product but they are certainly a growing industry trend. It all comes back to consumers being more open to trying new things.

To match the curious flavoured beers I set off to find some unusual food. Different and exotic foods are definitely a growing trend in the industry. In the beer industry? Or which the beer sector is capitalising on? We strolled over to the exotic burger stand; I had the wild boar burger whilst Kamran went with the Kangaroo burger. Food and beer pairing is another emerging trend, so we did the research and tried a selection of beers with our burgers (well it would have been rude not to).

After all the beer, I needed to refresh my palette and was struck by the amount of premium soft drinks available; another trend that is emerging. So it seems that consumers are looking to experience more unusual flavoured soft drinks that pack a real punch, not unlike what they look for in beer. My favourite soft drink has to be Fentimans Curiosity Cola, a delicious botanical drink that reminds me of the coke bottle sweets I used to scoff as a child.

Adventurous, exotic and unusual flavour combinations are a trend that will keep on growing within the industry, goodness knows what interesting flavour combinations are coming our way. But as long as the consumer keeps dictating the market then the sky is the limit for the breweries not afraid to be brave and try something new.

Beers tried: 25

Favourite drink: Wells and Young’s Waggle Dance, a delightful ale brewed with honey perfect for a Summers day.

Least favourite drink: Devils Backbone, an American weissbeer that was so acidic I thought I’d stumbled over to the cider stand.

Katie Salt
Raving Reporter

Southpaw Communications Ltd

Southpaw

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