We must keep draught beer iconic

Related tags Draught beer Beer

'Quality, diversity, innovation.' No, it's not the latest party political mantra - it's where we all need to be if draught beer is to continue as the...

'Quality, diversity, innovation.' No, it's not the latest party political mantra - it's where we all need to be if draught beer is to continue as the 'gold standard' offering.

We all recognise that these are tough times for the on-trade and I could list a series of challenges that face us, but I believe we should spend more time shouting about our unique strengths.

Greatest assets

Draught beer can continue to be one of the greatest assets of the pub. Think about what draught beer has to offer. It's unique to the on-trade, it has a deserved reputation of the highest quality and it's greener - served and packaged in returnable containers.

Put quite simply, the 'pint' is an icon of British life. Draught beer can appeal to a huge range of consumers - from style-conscious premium lager drinkers to cask ale devotees.

In recent years the quality of draught beer has undoubtedly improved. Brewers have rediscovered a passion for their art and licensees attach more importance to the skills of keeping and serving draught beer.

In turn, beer drinkers have become more knowledgeable and more demanding, which augurs well for the future. Much credit is due to ever more professional licensees and the trade, training and consumer interest groups, in driving this transformation. That said, we cannot afford to relax on product quality and there is still much for us all to do in this area.

Customer-driven innovation

While quality and diversity form the bedrock on which our draught beer drinking tradition is built, innovation is key to its future success. Genuine consumer-driven innovation means much more than introducing new-look beer fonts and super-chilled lagers. It is about researching and developing new products and methods of dispense that meet consumer needs rather than aiming to fill a gap on the bar.

Premium quality low and medium strength beers are a good example of where brewing expertise can be harnessed to produce drinks that do not rely on alcoholic strength to deliver taste and refreshment. Creating beers with female appeal and developing beer with food occasions are other examples where we can generate more excitement and interest.

As readers will be aware, Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) recently became part of Heineken International, a business that shares S&N's long-term vision for brewing excellence, quality dispense and diversity. A strategy that encourages Heineken to be enjoyed in a continental style, placing quality over quantity, can only bring new drinkers to the sector and passion to the art of the serve.

S&N recently launched an on-trade initiative that will enable us to team up with licensees and use unprecedented levels of consumer insight and marketing support at point of sale to encourage new and lapsed drinkers back to draught beer. Working together, we believe that brewers and retailers can stem the decline and begin to reverse the fortunes of the on-trade beer market.

A fit and active draught beer sector must play a crucial role in the long-term health of the on-trade and, while we all occasionally take draught beer for granted, I would like to appeal to all of us to increase our efforts to make and keep draught beer really special.

Related topics Beer

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