Scottish craft breweries develop growing appetite for export and home markets thanks to wholesaler’s efforts

CRAFT Beer Clan of Scotland, launched last year by Glasgow-based food and drink wholesaler JW Filshill to help Scottish craft brewers penetrate key markets initially in the Asia Pacific region, has now signed up 19 brewers from across Scotland following a successful pilot with collaboration at its core, the wholesaler said this week.

Targeting a £2.5m annual turnover by 2020, Craft Beer Clan is exporting to markets in the Asia Pacific region, and is also in advanced discussions with distributors in Scandinavia, Dubai, Japan, Canada and North America. “We’ve assembled 19 award-winning craft breweries creating all beer types from porters to peat-smoked beers to the very best pale ales and craft lagers,” said the company’s Chris Miller, also head of export and commercial operations at JW Filshill International.

Beer industry veteran Miller (pictured with fellow Clan member, Eden Brewery owner Paul Miller) , who is also chief executive of Solstice Brands, which develops collaborative growth strategies and commercial support for craft beer producers in both domestic and international markets, added: “We’ve proved we have a business model that works – one that is based on collaboration and establishing trusted relationships at local, regional, national and international level.

“We have brought together these amazing craft breweries whose owners are extremely forward-thinking and recognise that we have the experience and well-connected partners in key exports markets,” he said. “Our strategy has been to identify an opportunity to target consumers who already love and buy Scotch whisky but want to try something new with a great story behind it – and that’s what these breweries and their brands have.”

Joining the initial four members of Craft Beer Clan – William Bros Brewing Company, based in Alloa; Eden Brewery of St Andrews; Perth-based Inveralmond Brewery; and the Deeside Brewery, Banchory – are the high-profile Glasgow-based West and Drygate breweries, Edinburgh’s Caledonian Brewery, Loch Ness Brewery, Lerwick Brewery and Speyside Craft Brewery.

Other brewers which have joined the Clan include Black Wolf Brewery, Brewmeister, Broughton Ales, Fyne Ales, Jaw Brew, Knops Beer Company, Loch Lomond Brewery, Stewart Brewing and Tennent Caledonian.

Craft Beer Clan, which is working collaboratively with Scottish Development International (SDI), Scottish Enterprise and Scotland Food amp; Drink, is also backing the recently launched Scottish Government-funded industry group The Brewers’ Association of Scotland (TBAS) which aims to support, promote and safeguard the future of the industry.

“From the offset we wanted to collaborate with people who have experience in the markets we are targeting,” said Filshill MD Simon Hannah, chief executive of Craft Beer Clan. “It’s important that we have people on the ground who really understand the culture of the countries we’re targeting because business is very much about relationships.”

Meanwhile, Craft Beer Clan has also been helping boost UK sales for some of the breweries, using JW Filshill’s expertise of the convenience store market (it supplies 163 KeyStore outlets across Scotland and the north of England).

According to Miller, the fact that Craft Beer Clan can provide a range of packs for retailers and distributors is a major plus point. “We learned very quickly in our new Asia Pacific markets that women are just as adventurous as men when it comes to discovering new taste sensations,” he said. “The bigger 50cl bottles don’t always appeal and we’ve found that women and new entrants to the craft beer sector will trial the smaller 33cl packs,

“While we’re able to offer all formats – nine-gallon casks, 30-litre kegs, disposable kegs and both 33cl and 50cl bottles – we see the smaller pack as a more female-friendly format for the UK convenience store sector as well as some of our export markets.

“With 19 breweries on board we are keen to expand membership of Craft Beer Clan to those like-minded businesses seeking to develop new and existing markets.”

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