AB InBev-owned Camden Town Brewery – which was acquired by the beer behemoth in December 2015 – revealed in July of this year that it was to become the official beer partner of Arsenal Football Club, whose Emirates Stadium is located just two miles from Camden Town’s brewery.
According to the brewery’s founder, and Arsenal fan, Jasper Cuppaidge, the unveiling of Camden Hells as Emirates Stadium’s main match-day pour has been one of the award-winning beer makers’ highlights of 2019.
“It's taking Camden to a local stadium, local football club and giving the fans a better beer experience when enjoying world class football at Emirates Stadium,” he told The Morning Advertiser.
“Camden's got four of its own locations within the stadium. There's lots of pre-game and post-game activation that we're going to be doing throughout the season – we did a whole lot of work on the first game of the season.”
According to Cuppaidge, the three-year partnership between the north London brewer and its local football club had been in the pipeline for about six months prior to the partnership being unveiled in summer 2019. “We've got a three-year partnership with a right to renew so we hope it'll be forever,” he said. “It's kicked off really well and it makes total sense to us and to them so hopefully its an ongoing relationship that doesn't come to an end.
“Arsenal came to us in the early part of this year asking whether we'd be interested in tendering and working with them and we jumped at the opportunity. We put together a beer idea and a marketing campaign to work with them and I guess it made a huge amount of sense to them from a partnership standpoint, so they decided to work with us.”
“We see there's a huge opportunity to make beer better at a stadium. How do you bring better faster and make the whole occasion better for beer? That's something we're really working to improve over the next six to 12 months.”
The positive response to Camden’s beers from Arsenal fans since the Premier League season kicked off on 9 August caused Camden Town’s website to crash three times according to Cuppaidge, who views the new opportunity to put his beer in the hands of visitors to Emirates Stadium between 30 to 40 times a year as a valuable opportunity to test new ideas.
“We're trialling more outdoor entertainment, returnable plastic cups, fast-pour systems, loads of innovation,” he says. “Also, from a beer standpoint, there will be different and new beer from us that will become available through the stadium from time to time. So, there are lots of things we're partnering with the Arsenal over the next three years – it's an incredible platform for us to be working together in.”
Continued focus on lager
According to Cuppaidge, the partnership between Camden Town and Arsenal, and, in general, the greater presence of craft beer at football grounds, demonstrates that quality beer is no longer a lesser priority among match-day fans.
“A fantastic beer and a fantastic game should always be put together,” he explains. “Expectation on all fronts have got higher – football has got better over the past 20 years and beer expectations have got higher over the past five years, same with crisps, soft drinks – so many things.
“I think if there's a stadium out there that's not considering using better breweries within it, they're probably not thinking about the right things. Having a great beer and watching a great game should always be at the head of anyone's thoughts – that's what Arsenal have done and they're probably faster to it than most. The fans have jumped on it and are drinking more beer than they were.”
Plans to renovate original brewery
Cuppaidge also told The Morning Advertiser that plans were afoot to renovate Camden Town’s original brewery following the beer maker’s move to a new £30m brewery in Enfield in July 2017.
“We went from a small brewery producing not much and now we're a considerably large brewery buying, producing and selling all our own beers,” Cuppaidge explained. “Our workforce has doubled over the past 18 months and that's a big change that has been challenging but also rewarding at the same time.”
However, with this growth comes challenges. “We're growing the business in close to triple digits so keeping up with demand has been the hardest challenge of this year – our brewery continually comes up against it. We built a brewery two years ago and it's almost at capacity.
“Next year, we’re looking to renovate our original brewery under the Camden arches to create a fantastic and immersive beer experience. We already have our brewery bar where we hold events, preview tastings and host regular brewery tours, but we plan to elevate the experience and create a visitor centre for locals, beer fans and international tourists to enjoy.”