World of Heineken 39 winter 2008/2009 Regional tastes developed as drinkers concentrated on the beers produced by their local brewers. The pubs that remained free to stock beers from any brewer were known as "free houses", a term still used today. Across the country, brewers were experimenting with different styles and tastes. Pale ales, such as Bitter, were highly popular. Brown ales, like Mild, were produced using darker barley malt. Both had an alcohol content of around six percent, higher than that of today's equivalent beers. Another highly popular ale was India Pale Ale, developed by British brewers in the 18th century in response to the problems of shipping beer abroad. Prior to refrigeration and pasteurisation, the only way a brewer could conserve a beer was through the use of alcohol and hops. India Pale Ale combined both, producing strong-tasting ale characterised by a distinct bitterness. CHANGES IN DRINKING STYLES By the 20th century, however, drinking styles across the country were starting to change. British tastes began to match those of their European neighbours, and pub-goers were moving away from traditional ales towards lager. Lager went from being a minority beer in the 1950s to accounting for over 50 per cent of all annual beer consumption by the 1990s. Until the end of the 1970s, beer consumption in Britain was growing at an annual average rate of two per cent. Peak consumption topped out at around 70 million hectolitres in the mid-1970s. Following a drop-off in the 1980s following a recession, beer consumption stabilised in the early 1990s at around 62 million hectolitres. But it wasn't just the taste of beer drinkers that changed—so did pub styles. Following a shake-up in legislation in the 1980s, brewers and pubs were forced to break off many of the tied deals they had in place. The government wanted drinkers to be offered a wider choice of beers when they visited their local. The change in legislation coincided with a resurge of interest in ale, driven by the emergence of a group called the Campaign for Real Ale. This advocacy group sought to promote traditional ale, which they define as beer made from traditional ingredients, matured in the cask or bottle and served without too much carbon dioxide. In fact, one of their medal winners is Caledonian Brewery's Deuchars IPA—a beer that's now part of the Heineken portfolio. There are also a few traditional brewers that still have a number of tied pubs, as well as various large pub owners and some strong independent operators. "The evolution of the beer market in Britain has led to a diverse and demanding beer drinker," says Chris. "Like the beer market itself, the demands of British consumers represent a challenge." As he sees it, the British beer drinker has a considerably larger selection of beers to choose from than other European drinkers. In addition to a formidable selection of lagers and premium lagers, there is a wide range of bitters, stouts, mild beers and ciders on offer. "All of this adds up to a sophisticated consumer." In addition to the wide selection of available beers, brewers also have to consider the diverse range of places where people in Britain can drink beer. The British beer drinker has a lot of options, says Heineken UK's Senior Brand Manager Lucas Bergmans. "Just as one type of beer seems strange to the British drinker, so too their repertoire of drinking establishments is diverse," says Lucas. "Although the number of on-trade licensed premises is dropping across Britain, there are still an estimated 141,000 licensed premises." He notes that this has led to varied drinking venues and a demand from the consumer for more choice. The times are changing in British pubs. Consumers expect their local to offer them more than they traditionally have. CURRENT TRENDS IN BRITAIN "The current state of the beer landscape in Britain is fairly mixed," says Heineken's UK Customer Marketing Controller Chris Duffy. "There are heritage brewers, a number of entrepreneurs, large brands like Heineken and niche players that tend to concentrate on speciality ales, as well as an increasing number of imported beers from all over the world." Annual British beer consumption per capita is exceeded by only a handful of countries around the world that includes the Czech Republic, Ireland and Germany. However, unlike the Germans and the Czechs, who enjoy drinking beer in traditional bars and beer houses, the British are less discriminating about where they sup their favourite pint. 40

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World of Heineken | 2008 | | pagina 42