The brewing industry needs to look beyond its traditional understanding of beer in order to appeal to new drinkers, according to one brewer.
Danielle Bekker is the co-founder of Good Living Brewing and used to work at AB InBev’s SABMiller before founding her own brewery.
She explained: “Pubs and brewers need to embrace the idea that beer can be very different. It doesn't have to be what we think of as beer today. It could look and taste very different.”
Over the past few years, it has become commonplace to see drinks on pub menus that combine two types of alcohol.
Bekker pointed to the Champagne yeast brew produced by Curious Brew, describing it as a “starting direction” for innovation alongside wheat and sour beers.
“Let's expand the palate and definition of beer,” Bekker believes. “People could come up with even more interesting and delicious things.
“The beer industry here [in England] has a lot of tradition associated with it, and even in the craft [sector], you have almost got a new tribe of ‘this is what craft beer in the UK looks like’.”
There has been an idea that craft beer was only drunk by a particular “BrewDog sort of consumer,” she said.
She explained: “I'm in my 40s, I do yoga, I run and I like beer. I don't conform to that stereotype.
“I'd like a beer that's made for me – conscious, vegan, light, aromatic, not bitter and I can have it with food – and not to be told ‘oh that’s not real beer’.”
Pubs could reorganise their menus to appeal to drinkers who would describe themselves as disliking beer.
Bekker said: “Pubs will organise their menu according to wine, beer and gin. So you first decide ‘am I going to be a wine, beer or gin drinker?’ And then look down the list.
“Your first decision point is already tricky, whereas all these fusion products or the ones that are on the fringes need a home.”
Good Living Brewery has brewed a low ABV beer, which it believes will appeal to wine drinkers as well as women, owing to its relatively low carbonation and lack of bitterness.
Bekker added: “We are very good with wine, with giving flavour notes and flavour descriptors – you know it's full-bodied, tastes like cherry and blah, blah, blah – but with beer we will just go lager, ale, stout or IPA or whatever.
“Maybe we need to think about defining beers according to their flavour profiles a bit like wine does.
“It's tangy and aromatic or it's full-bodied and bitter or dark and chocolatey – really thinking more from a taste experience rather than just its obvious category.
“That's a start. I know for me, if I didn’t like beer and was a wine drinker, I probably wouldn’t even turn to that page on the beer menu, which has other products on it that I might actually like.”