Winner of the best craft beer category at the 2019 World Beverage Innovation Awards – ahead of Berentsens Brygghus’ Cloudberry Imperial Gose and Wiper and True’s Milk Shake Milk Stout – Jubel is currently found in more than 400 on-trade outlets in the UK, including Fuller’s pubs in London, Remarkable Pubs, Incipio Group and “a big chunk of the free trade”.
However, co-founder Jesse Wilson – who left his job as a brand manager on Malteasers at Mars Chocolate to launch Jubel in April 2018 – is eyeing a two-fold expansion of the number of venues stocking its gluten free sessionable beer by April 2021.
“In terms of total number of outlets we’re looking to more than double our distribution,” he told The Morning Advertiser. “I’ve got us down to try and hit more than 1,000 outlets in the next 18 months. We’re recruiting a few new sales roles at the minute to add some beef to the team.”
Wilson hopes that following investment by C&C – which acquired Conviviality brands Matthew Clark and Bibendum in April 2018 – Jubel can benefit from increased cut through in the on-trade.
“Excitingly, six months ago we took on some minority investment from C&C, who own a number of brands but most relevantly Matthew Clarke and Bibendum,” he said. “That really opens up a huge part of the on-trade for us. One of the big goals for us is how we establish and build our distribution and make full use of that strategic partnership – leveraging their size and scale to bring more beer to more people.”
Launched in Cornwall, and enjoying a strong pub presence in the south west off the back of its contract brewing partnership with St Austell Brewery, Wilson hopes to firmly establish the brand and its brews in the capital.
“It's an exciting time to embed ourselves in London, which has become an HQ for us and a bit of a home,” he says. “Lots of our decisions will be in line with that strategy to deepen our presence in London rather than spread ourselves across large parts of the UK but not being able to support it as much.”
Balance between cider and lager
Wilson and co-founder Tom Jordan – whose hat trick of fruit infused brews includes elderflower presse topped variant Urban and grapefruit flavoured Coast – created flagship lager, Alpine, based on a serve originating in the French Alps.
“Similar to how we might do a lager with a lime or lemonade top, they do a pint of lager with a peach top called a demi peche, or a beer peche,” Wilson says.
“I was at a ski bar in the Alps and a French guy next to me ordered one. I saw it being made and thought it looked really good, ordered one, and it had this really unique balance between being refreshing like a fruit cider and having that sort of crisp sessionability you get from a nice lager.
“It was really this kind of middle ground where it felt like it delivered the best of both worlds and there was nothing really like that back home. It left a bit of an imprint on me.”
Plans for an après ski taproom
Currently creating its beer at the same facility used by St Austell-owned Bath Ales, part of Jubel’s planned expansion revolves around creating an après ski HQ in central London.
“Something we are really keen to do in the early part of next year is open up a taproom,” Wilson explains. “We've been looking at some sites and are really keen to open up a home for the brand and try to bring the après spirit and culture to the UK, which we feel it doesn't really have.
“There are some bars where someone chucks a pair of skis on the wall and calls it après ski, but in terms of the true spirit of après – blue sky, standing out in the Alps, fresh mountain air, having a beer – the atmosphere that builds feels irreplaceable and we feel there's a real opportunity to bring a light-hearted, approachable and fun vibe to a taproom in London.”
With recent figures revealing that the UK on-trade poured 8.5bn pints of beer in 2018 – on average 269 per second – and fruit cider representing two fifths (40%) of all cider volume sold in the on-trade, can Jubel’s niche between beer and cider prove fruitful?
“Fruit cider as a category and as a market has really exploded in the last 15 years, from nothing into a big, big category now,” Wilson says. “I saw an article over the summer that said 1.2m more people drink fruit cider than apple cider – which I thought was astounding. I think that paints a little bit of the picture around this fruit frenzy, as we've coined it, that we've been seeing around the cider and gin categories.
“The gin category has been transformed by fruit variants in the last few years, taking the movement to the next level now and driving a lot of the growth. We saw the opportunity to pioneer a new style of craft beer that put fruit at the forefront of what we were doing.”