How Breweries Can Stand Out from the Growing Crowd at the Bar

Tuesday 30th January 2018

Simon Mydlowski, leisure and hospitality partner at Gordons, explains how breweries need to continue evolving to stand out from a growing crowd.


Craft beer and boutique breweries are booming. That’s not a secret. More than 300 breweries were launched in the UK in 2016, taking the total in operation to almost 2,000.

The trend is showing few signs of ending any time soon, with consumers voting with their feet and supporting these establishments as a lifestyle choice. This has been indicated by the number of craft beer products available on supermarket shelves, which were previously only reserved for the large-scale brewers.

In Yorkshire, we have been blessed with a lot of local brewers that offer a very diverse offering to customers, ranging from one-man brewers to large-scale operations that supply retailers, pubs and restaurants all over the country.

However, while small breweries and new players in the market are riding the wave, rising demand for craft ale has created more competition for smaller breweries and it is absolutely imperative that these businesses continue to evolve and keep pace with the ever-changing needs of the consumer. So, how can breweries ensure they set themselves apart from competitors?


Engage with the audience

In every sector it is vitally important that businesses engage with their consumers and understand what they want and how they consume the information presented to them by their favourite brands. This is certainly true within the brewing sector.

It must be said that newly established boutique breweries have a significant advantage over their larger counterparts when it comes to engaging with their audience. They are often small teams with a limited number of products and have the everyday contact with their customers that helps to build a brand and establish a reputation.

It is clear to see that smaller operations, which are typically more agile, are able to keep fans up-to-date with their latest products. Social media is a key aspect of this and is growing in importance within the brewing sector. Locally, the likes of Northern Monk and Magic Rock are stand-out examples of breweries that have clearly thought about and understood their target market, how they want to communicate with them and, most importantly, they know what sets them apart from others.

Larger breweries are beginning to come around to the idea of marketing their product to consumers. With so much choice on the shelves and in the pumps now, more established brands are finding themselves fighting for space, both in the physical sense and in a digital sense.

With such a crowded market place, getting communication with consumers right is paramount. It’s not necessarily the breweries that shout the loudest who will succeed and stand out, it’s those who take the time to develop a clear and likeable brand. Of course, they also need to have the product to back it up.


Evolution not revolution

In an industry where the number of direct competitors increased by 18 per cent in 2016, taking the growth of breweries over the past five years to 64 per cent, it is tempting to do something revolutionary to stand out from others. But, this can be risk and for breweries there are a range of innovative steps they can take to evolve their offering, rather than reinventing the wheel.

The increase in the number of pubs closing down has created one such opportunity for breweries, with many already taking advantage of it, that is, the prospect of a Tap Room. Creating a unique experience where customers can come to a brewery and drink the products as close to the manufacturing process as possible is what sets some breweries apart from others. Of course, Brewdog has taken this to the next level and operates its own bars throughout the UK and Europe and it may be an example for smaller breweries to follow.

There is also the possibility of offering brewery tours to visitors, all of which helps to build loyalty to the brand, so when faced with the wider choice available consumers may plump for a product they have seen brewed with their own eyes.

Clearly, not all breweries have the space to develop Tap Rooms on site, but there are still ways to separate from the herd. New innovative ales have proved a solid way to stand out. Creating a niche, whether it be for exotically flavoured beers, extra-strong beers or even gluten-free beers will help create a buzz around breweries and brands.

Drinking craft beer is a lifestyle choice and often those consuming these products are also choosing to eat in independent restaurants or those immersed in the street food trend. Matching beer with street food can help a brewery tap into a growing trend. Food and drink events, tasting evenings and brewery takeovers in bars are all proving popular and helping breweries stand out from the crowd and offer something a little different to consumers.

In such a competitive market, which only appears to be getting more crowded every day, taking steps to make sure your brewery stands out from the crowd can be achieved.


As breweries continue to pop up, it is important to take advice about any business strategy before embarking on it. If you need legal advice on commercial property matters, including the licensed premises sector, please contact Simon on 01274 202514 or

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