As more consumers buy into the craft beer market they look for new and innovative products they have not tried, New World Trading Company’s (NWTC) beer guru Kieran Hartley explained at the Future Trends: Beer and Cider event in London last month (June).
“People are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about beer and a lot are just keen to try that next new thing,” he explained.
“Tastes are changing and consumers want something sweeter, and they are turning to products that are different to what they know.”
NWTC stocks 65 beers and ciders (mainly packaged) across all of its 15 pubs, and 16 of those beers are fruit, which account for 10% of sales, he added.
“The trend is continuing to grow and my bet would be the trend continues to be popular as long as the current trend for hoppy beers stays strong,” said Hartley.
“People increasingly want better drinks, whether it’s cocktails or any other category, people are asking for more.”
The beer guru, who is responsible for sourcing the award-winning pub company’s beers and ciders, was confident the fruit beer category would increase in strength in the years ahead.
Most of the fruit beers coming to the UK were from the US, which is advanced in its creativity within the segment, he added.
The UK became the second largest importer of American craft beer last year, buying more than 460,000 barrels worth more than £94m, according to the Brewers Association.
However, many UK brewers were developing competing products, such as the Wild Beer Co with Pogo, and Welsh brewer Tiny Rebel with Clwb Tropicana.
'Fruiting the beer'
Both brewers use a technique of adding fruit in the final stages of brewing, known as “fruiting the beer”, which gives a big juicy impact in the finished product.
However, hops with fruity qualities are also used in beers to deliver a juicy hit.
Many brewers rely on hops alone to deliver flavour, with many British hops capable of achieving citrus and hops from warmer climates, such as in the US, able to give more tropical notes.
That said, it is the fruited beers – those that have fruit or zests incorporated into the brewing process – that stood out for consumers as unique.
The Future Trends: Beer and Cider event would like to thank sponsors and bar partners Aston Manor, Hop House 13, Kegstar, Smirnoff Cider, Vianet, Willis Publicity, The Brewers Association, BrewDog, Kentish Pip, Saxbys and the Society of Independent Brewers for making the event possible.