Beer Summit

‘Mould on my can of craft beer’ – why too much beer choice is bad

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Sign of quality? too much choice can be a bad thing
Sign of quality? too much choice can be a bad thing

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Too much craft beer choice in pubs poses a real threat to quality and the overall customer experience, caused by poor sell-through rates in some venues.

Almost 38,000 on-trade outlets stock craft beer in their fridges and on draught, equating to 17% of outlets, according to CGA commercial director Graeme Loudon at The Morning Advertiser​’s Beer Summit in Manchester this month.

However, craft beer is not right for every pub, and those willing to invest in big product ranges should be extra considerate of what they stock, he warned.

‘It had mould on it’

“I’ve had three occasions in the past year where I’ve gone to an outlet and taken a craft product from the fridge and they’ve been out of date and one time it had mould on it. If you spend £5 [as an operator] on one of those brands and they’re not getting out of the door, then you’ve got a bit of a problem.

“We talk a lot about craft beer and rightly so, sales volumes are up 7.3% and the segment grew by 19% in volume terms last year. But growth is now at 9%, meaning we’re starting to see the inevitable slow in growth,” explained Loudon.

CGA Graeme Loudon
Graeme Loudon addresses delegates at the Beer Summit

The more brands stocked in a pub, especially if they are stocked for the sake of saying you offer a range of craft beer, will result in a drop in the rate of sale, the senior analyst advised.

Despite there being a huge range of craft beers available to operators, three quarters of all beer sales come from pale ales and lagers, he said.

‘One in two pints sold’

“Mainstream lager brands driving sales - it’s not a category we’re really talking about. It accounts for one in two pints sold. Even in the top-end outlets it’s still one in three pints. You need to get your mainstream lager ranging right too.”

The premium lager category, too, is in 18% volume growth and is a better step up from mainstream into a different experience, according to Loudon. “You’re still accommodating the mainstream lager consumer, but you’re making more money from it.”

The Beer Summit was brought to you by The Morning Advertiser in association with Diageo and law firm TLT.

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