There are many reasons why the UK craft beer industry is flourishing right now but one of those is the community itself. If you work in a craft brewery and haven’t tapped into the support, inspiration and motivation offered by your peers, make sure you do. There’s a ton of advice out there by a collective that is, quite uniquely, there to support each other rather than aggressively compete with each other.
It’s something that has emerged time and time again in our Craftwork podcast series, where we’ve chatted to some of the UK’s most incredible craft breweries, authors, alliances and shops around today.
Each of them has offered incredible insight, secrets and stories of their journeys to success, which will give you all the advice you need to take your own brewery to the next level.
Here’s a taster from the series, and the subsequent eBook that has just been released, with some seemingly obvious but really rather important tips from Brewheadz, Pirate Life Brewing, Sambrook's and Craft Metropolis:
Don’t be impatient – and don’t go out to market until you are absolutely ready. Your first impression is the one that will make or break your brand. Take it from these guys!
With this crowded market, especially in London, it's crucial to start with a solid product straight away from the beginning. – Vincenzo Conte, Brewheadz
Take Brewheadz as a great example. They brewed as often as they possibly could until they were happy with their beers. Only then did they decide to invest in building their brewery and launch their initial range.
There are people who sell you a beer [saying], ‘it's not quite right yet - still a work in progress. That'll be five pounds please.’ And it's like, well, no! Consistently the brewers that I rate are people who have been practising for a long time. They're perfectionist and not happy to release beers until they're really, really happy with them. – Author and Judge, Pete Brown
We spent roughly $100 000, (£70 000) on laboratory equipment on Day 1. It was always a number one priority. Do not try and save money on those sorts of costs. Make sure your laboratories and quality standards are there. – Sean Robertson, Pirate Life Brewing
If you’ve put in the time (see above) to get your balance, flavours, quality and consistency bang on, don’t watch a poorly educated bar destroy all of that hard work by storing or serving your beers incorrectly. The second that consumer has a bad experience of your beer, especially if they’re trying you for the first time, they probably won’t blame the pub they drank it in – and they probably won’t touch your brand again. You need to make it part of your job to educate your distributors, stockists and consumers on the correct taste, care and serving.
So many breweries do not put people on the ground to police their product or to actually explain it to people. – Sean Robertson
A lot of what we spend in terms of education and marketing budget is on making sure [pubs] understand cask ale and that they make the experience exceptional. But, still, I think with craft keg there is a big education and quality piece around the cellar and the importance of serving – Duncan Sambrook, Sambrook's Brewery
We said it before but the craft beer industry really is unlike any other in that it is one where competitors will help each other out. Bear that in mind when you’re starting out. You’re not alone and you don’t need to navigate the complex world of business on your own either. Listen to podcasts, jump into forums and ask questions, and reach out to peers.
I kinda knew already that it was a friendly community but, I mean, it's really friendly! We've had help from many. Evan was the first one to help. We were at a beer festival and he lent us his dispensing machine. Pressure Drop helped us with questions [we had] and Simon from One Mile end has helped us too. – Gianni Rotunno, Brewheadz
Tap into the community, make use of industry bodies, social media forums or simply pick up the phone and give a fellow craft beer business owner a call.
You can’t be expert at everything - and would you want to be? Wouldn’t you rather just focus on doing what you love and getting specialists to help you do the very best in other areas of your business? Take online marketing as an example. Hated by many but a growing necessity in the craft beer industry, like it or not. But digital marketing can be overwhelming, risky and costly if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you want to get the best results for your business, you need to get the right people to do the important jobs.
I was spending every hour killing myself. Hard, hard work [but] I have learnt so, so much: How can I make the website better? How can I reach a wider audience? The biggest challenge in getting into a crowded marketplace is jostling for position and [having to] learn so much. – Oliver Meade, Craft Metropolis
I researched SEO, Google ranking, marketing, copywriting, blogging, working the backend of websites – you do not realise the depths and how much you have to immerse yourself into this whole new world online...I was naive. – Oliver Meade
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