Manchester-based brewer Beer Nouveau compiled a list of 83 British breweries that closed in 2022 in the wake of Covid and soaring costs. The list comprised only those who’d gone public about their closure and didn’t include Beer Nouveau itself, which revealed in October that it was calling time.
Among the (relatively) big independents to go were Kelham Island, Twisted Wheel and Wild Beer, whose name and brands have been taken on by Curious Brewery. Brewers owned by majors, such as Marston’s Jennings and Asahi’s Dark Star, also bit the dust in 2022. Times are certainly tough, but retailers can help turn the tide.
1. Don’t screw them on price. Of course, every deal has to work for both parties, but playing silly beggars in price negotiations isn’t going to help anyone at times like these. If brewers’ trade prices are nudging up, it’s probably with good reason as energy, ingredient and packaging costs are all on a consistent upwards trajectory.
2. Show them at their best. Don’t treat it as an exercise in ticking the “local brewery” box. Give some love to a number of producers and pick only the very best beers from each of their ranges. Taste everything before you commit and focus on quality, as it’s this rather than gimmicky names or fancy packaging that will drive repeat purchase.
3. Be an ambassador. Don’t just stick stuff on the shelves and hope it will sell. Build a relationship with producers and customers, and become the missing link between them. Work your social media and share posts from your suppliers for bigger mutual benefits.
4. Be patient. It will take time to introduce new brewers and their beers to customers and to build up followings.
5. Pay on time. Everybody in business knows the importance of cash flow, so treat brewers with the same respect you’d expect from your own large clients.