The United Kingdom (U.K.) has long been known for its rich history of brewing and beer culture. In addition to classic British styles, the country is home to an emerging craft beer community and, with it, a growing demand for full-flavored quality beers produced outside of their borders. In fact, Europe receives the largest share of American craft beer exports, with the U.K. leading the pack. British beer drinkers consumed 8.4% of exported American craft beer in 2021 and the country ranks as the number two international market for U.S.-produced craft beer globally.
The Brewers Association (BA) Export Development Program (EDP) conducted a series of promotional activities surrounding the London Craft Beer Festival in August to further drive consumer awareness of American craft beer availability and engage with the British beer trade to support members in this important market. Read on for an overview of those efforts.
The London Craft Beer Festival (LCBF) is one of the U.K.’s leading craft beer festivals and took place on August 12 and 13 at the Tobacco Dock in the heart of London. Over two days the festival attracted 14,000 beer lovers. The first session was for the beer trade, industry members, and media. Using the festival as an anchor event, EDP activity was split across four main programs:
- American Craft Beer Booth Presence: The booth served as a gathering point for trade, media, and consumers interested in sampling and learning about American craft beer. The EDP invested in a high-impact and eye-catching design that featured participating EDP members’ brewery logos within a streamlined American craft beer theme. The booth was highly trafficked throughout the entirety of the show.
- American Craft Beer Tap Takeover: New to this year’s programming was the shipment of kegs, in addition to packaged cans and bottles. Eleven EDP members provided kegs that were poured at Craft Beer Co., an independently owned craft beer bar in Covent Garden, for the week leading up to LCBF. The EDP hosted a Tap Takeover and Meet the Brewer event at the pub on the Thursday before the festival as a way to engage consumers who had been closely following the social media promotions and tap lists promoted by Craft Beer Co. in the preceding weeks. The Operations Director let us know that this was the busiest tap takeover they’d seen in the pub since reopening after the pandemic and that nearly all kegs were dry by the end of the weekend.
- Brewery Representative Trade Mission and Travel: Thanks to continued funding support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the EDP has resumed brewer trade missions to select activities. Traveling to a current or potential export market is a proven way of enhancing the impact of the EDP’s American craft beer promotions and brewery representative knowledge of market conditions. Eight EDP member brewery representatives joined the EDP team on the trip to London this year. Those brewery owners and brewers participated in the production of collaboration beers with local London craft brewers, media engagement during the pairing lunch, meetings with importers, and consumer interactions during the London craft beer festival.
- Beer and Food Pairing Educational Partnership: Promoting beer with food has become an effective tool for elevating the image of American craft beer. To put this strategy to work, the EDP partnered with Westminster Kingsway Culinary College to execute a beer and food pairing event that took the form of both a four-course media lunch and an educational experience that encouraged students to become more familiar with pairing best practices. The event was attended by Deputy Chief of Mission Matt Palmer from the U.S. Embassy as well. Examples of media coverage generated so far include pieces from BeerToday.co.uk, The Caterer, CLH Digital (page 22), and Eat, Drink, Sleep (page 14). The event was recorded by the acclaimed YouTube series, the Craft Beer Channel. The video is available to view here and below.
It was an exciting week of promotions for American craft beer, and the Export Development Program looks forward to continuing to build upon the momentum generated to help maintain the region as a steady destination for U.S. craft brewers.
Overall, Europe remains a major export market for the U.S. craft beer industry, with numerous countries seeing export growth for American craft beer in 2021 despite lingering challenges faced by European importers and retailers. The BA continues to prioritize growing trade, media, and consumer awareness of American craft beer in this market, by participating in major trade shows and competitions when possible, expanding the reach of the BA’s presence at shows by hosting related local events with U.S. brewers, and engaging with media through its European Ambassador. With these efforts, the U.S. craft beer industry is primed for continued export growth and success in Europe.