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Drinkers’ quest for beer knowledge

A new study looking at British drinking habits has today thrown up some surprising results, with a clear trend towards  consumers becoming more selective in the beer they drink, as discerning drinkers develop a thirst for beer knowledge following an explosion in craft-brewed beer across the UK.

The results of the major research project released today shows that Britain’s beer drinkers are increasingly aware of the provenance of beer, with 53% of consumers believing it is important that beer is brewed in the UK and 46% believing craft beer is ‘made by small brewers rather than large corporations’. More than 9 out of 10 consumers are interested in learning more about the many different styles of beer now available and two-thirds want to know more about the ingredients in beer, such as hops and malt.

Barley, Malt, Beer (Red Flame Comms)“Just as wine drinkers understand the importance of different grape varieties, today’s beer drinkers are increasingly curious about different styles and what gives each beer its unique flavours. The provenance of food and drink is hugely important and people are quickly coming round to the idea that beer is best when it is brewed locally, on a relatively small scale, by someone who’s first goal is to brew something of excellence and flavour.

Whilst almost half of consumers surveyed already demand local beer, we predict this number will rise steeply over the next few years as our members get their beer in to the hands of even more people. This report was launched to meet that demand for knowledge from consumers and ensure SIBA’s craft-brewing members are at the forefront of British beer” said Mike Benner, SIBA Managing Director.

The report also shows that 24% of women are drinking more beer than they did two or three years ago, compared to 16% amongst consumers in general, a sign that the variety of locally-produced beer is attracting more women to beer.

900 people were surveyed as part of the report, due to be presented today at SIBA’s BeerX by Simon Stenning, Executive Director of M&C Allegra, who carried out the research on behalf of SIBA.

“SIBA are hugely impressed by the results of the survey, which show a clear trend towards consumers being more open-minded when it comes to beer choice. There has never been more choice and quality available to beer drinkers than there is right now and this is clearly reflected in the attitudes presented in this consumer research, something very promising for SIBA’s 850 independent craft brewing members.” Mike Benner, SIBA Managing Director.

The fact it is women that are turning to beer in ever-increasing numbers is testament to the variety of beer styles and flavours now available, says Benner.

“For the vast majority of people, men and women, who say they don’t like beer what they really mean is ‘I haven’t found a beer I like’ – which was understandable when the choices were so limited in days gone by. But the fact is we now have more different styles of beer being brewed in the UK than ever before, from Belgian sour and saison styles, to highly hopped American-style IPAs and pales or traditional British styles such as best bitters, milds, imperial stouts and Barley Wines, the flavour spectrum of beer has expanded massively in recent years and this has gone a long way to attracting new drinkers, including women.”

SIBA has responded to increasing demand for craft brewed beers by evolving its successful Direct Delivery Scheme into Beerflex enabling the Society to provide a commercial solution to all kinds of retailers. Over 550 brewers deliver over 40,000 barrels of beer to over 2,400 outlets across the UK and SIBA is set to develop this market further over the coming months.

One way in which SIBA are allowing consumers to engage directly with craft brewers is at their flagship BeerX Festival of Beer event in Sheffield this week. As well as being able to taste the beers judged in the national final of the SIBA Independent Beer Awards, the organisers have this year also introduced 20 brewery bars where brewers will be serving their own keg, bottled and canned beers direct to the public. The event runs from the 16th – 19th March at IceSheffield, for more information visit BeerX.org