The first time I ever went into a bottle shop with one of my beers, I was absolutely packing it (for our international listeners; the literal translation is I was shitting myself). What would they think about my beer, my brand… would they buy it, stock it, promote it and sell many…?
Thankfully, the bottle shop in question – slightly bemused by the kitsch logo of Jesus welcoming people at the bar like he was Sam Malone from Cheers – took to it and became a big advocate of them.
Bottle shops and off-licensed venues have played a big part of beer across the globe. It’s one thing to carve out some time with a friend down the local pub or bar – an experience in and of itself… but it’s another to stand in front of the shelves or fridges and decipher which beers you’ll take home with you.
There are some great label designs and brands out there, especially these days.
I remember back in the early 00’s when beers had names like Nobby’s Nuts and featured a picture of a Santa-like character with a boozy red nose drinking a pint of something brown; it’s a far cry from the artwork that could easily adorn a can of beer as much as it could the walls of the Tate Modern.
Bottle shops are the gatekeepers of modern British beer; the owners and stewards akin to the vinyl junkies who work in record stores who know which bands to listen out for and peddle records you’d never dream of buying but take home and relish the experience over and over.
But – as discussed a few episodes back with Dave Hayward – are bottle shops becoming an endangered species due to the Covid-19 pandemic? Now breweries are selling products online, do they even need bottle shops to thrive? And, for the ones that do, how should they approach potential new business customers? What are some of the basics when it comes to on-boarding a new shop with the fruits of your labour?
These are some of the topics, along with discussions about trends in beer, spirits, wines and cider, that I discuss with today’s guests on the Hop Forward Podcast, Richard and Jenna from Real Drinks
If you cast your mind back to September 2019 (not easy, I know!), I visited … and spoke on location to Nick Dolan and Tim Peyton from, then, Real Ale Ltd in Notting Hill, which you can go back and listen to.
But – in light of the pandemic and their subsequent rebrand, which – I feel at least – had an emphasis and focus on the online market, I was keen to catch up with the team and ask some questions that I felt were relevant to 2021.
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