Beer - UK - December 2013
“The market is having greater success with the newer range of sweeter flavoured/alcoholic ginger beers which are typically positioned as gender-neutral and which are equally likely to be drunk by men and women. These continue to offer a route for beer brands to increase usage and make beer more accessible to women.”
– Chris Wisson, Senior Drinks Analyst
Some questions answered in this report include:
- Can cask ales play a role in boosting on-trade use?
- How can beer boost its appeal to female drinkers?
- How can beers build brand preference?
- How can stout address its ‘heavy-going’ image?
Beer remains a category in flux. While volume sales continue to fall, there are reasons for operators to be positive. Beer remains the leading drinks category by some distance, both in terms of usage and value sales which are expected to reach £16.7 billion this year. The year 2013 saw the removal of the beer tax escalator, providing long overdue relief for brewers.
Convincing consumers of high quality and value for money remains important, not only for operators to compete against others in the beer market but also in terms of staving off competition from challengers such as cider.
This report looks at the UK market for beer sold in both the on-trade, ie out-of-home outlets such as pubs, restaurants and clubs where the drink is consumed on the premises, and the off-trade (or take-home) market, eg supermarkets, off-licences and convenience stores.
The beer market is divided into three main segments:
- Lager can broadly be described as a light/amber, clear, carbonated beer brewed with pale-kilned malts which, after fermentation, is filtered, pasteurised and conditioned before being packaged in cans, bottles or kegs for sale.
- Lagers were often previously loosely defined as premium/standard/economy, based on their alcohol content. However, this picture is now changing as many beers reduce their ABV slightly and as lower-alcohol beers become more popular, benefiting from government tax breaks on beers with an ABV of 2.8% or less.
- Ale is sometimes referred to by consumers as mild or bitter, but the term ‘ale’ is used throughout this report. This refers to top-fermented beers including bitter and mild, pale, export and brown ales, stout, porter, barley wine and strong ales, as well as Indian and American pale ales, among others. These beers are so-called because the yeast floats to the surface during fermentation, as opposed to lagers, which are bottom-fermented. Barley wine is simply a beer with a very high ABV.
- Cask ales are pulled by hand pump and oxidise in an aerobic environment once opened, which demands quick throughput to maintain optimum condition and means they are served from a cask without additional carbon dioxide or nitrogen pressure.
- Cask ales go through a process of ‘secondary fermentation’ while being stored in pubs, meaning that each barrel often has a unique taste. They are sometimes referred to by consumers and/or the trade as ‘real ale’. However, the definition of real ale also includes ales which are bottle conditioned.
- Alcoholic ginger beer is also included within ales.
- Stout is a derivative of porter, originally an18th century brown mild ale. Stout is a black, dense beer, which is usually top-fermented, and made with dark roasted barley and an abundance of hops, which provide the characteristic flavour.
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