What consumers want from breweries and bars through COVID-19

Recently released research from GlobalWebIndex sheds light on what consumers are after from brands during this global crisis – here’s now that’s relevant in the world of beer.

Through the Coronavirus pandemic, research company GlobalWebIndex have been surveying consumers across the world to assess their reactions – fears, concerns, changes in behaviour and general attitudes. While there’s a few ways that consumers can help out their local breweries, bars and bottle shops, I’ve looked closely through their most recent release and it seems as though there’s some key learnings that the world of beer – breweries, bars, bottle shops and more – can take from their side:

  1. People are concerned about their personal finances – but not as much as you might think
  2. Online shopping is key, but combine it with other online activities for maximum impact
  3. Insert your brand into other ways people are spending their time
  4. Nail your content – it’s not just about the product

Read on for more details and ideas…

People are concerned about their personal finances – but not as much as you might think

A longer-term trend to think about. People are clearly concerned about the future of their money, but in fact show more concern for the national economy more broadly right now. It’s something that is hard to predict (and I’m certainly no expert), but I don’t think it would be any surprise that there are and will continue to be repercussions to the economy.

Online shopping is key, but combine it with other online activities for maximum impact

People are obviously shopping more online, with 37% of consumers in the UK saying that they are spending a little or a lot more time doing so – probably not a surprise. About 8% of those say they are buying alcohol online more now (more likely to be aged over 25, male and earning higher incomes) and although that might sound small, it could represent up to 2 million people.

There’s an audience there – make sure you are promoting any online offering you have. On top of this, overlapping with some of the audiences spending their time in different ways (see point 3) may help to broaden the beer audience outside of this existing group. People are interested in cooking, so post a recipe and a beer to pair with it, or use as an ingredient – link directly to the beer on your website. Put together a pack of beers for sale and host a virtual tasting session or film viewing party.

Insert your brand into other ways people are spending their time

Other ways people are spending their time include more reading, time on social media, talking with friends & family, cooking, doing other hobbies and watching TV or using streaming services – how can you be part of these? You want people to come across your brand in their daily lives, either to grow awareness or act as a reminder, so the broader you can be the better.

Recommend your favourite books, films or series – maybe help people get to know your team by showing off their different interests (especially helpful if you are very small). Invite submissions of favourite books or films, or ask more crafty-minded followers to submit can art ideas and alternatives. Give followers materials to empower them to share their love of beer with family and friends. Now’s a great time to build relationships with your brand’s fans.

Nail your content – it’s not just about the product

Consumers do want to know what your response to COVID-19 is (and understand why you would communicate this) but they are also looking for more light-hearted news and content. While everyone is spending more time on their phones, reading news and scrolling through social media, they need a distraction from all the terrible news around the world.

So what can you show them that’s a bit different or more entertaining? Behind the scenes video of the brewery/bar on a normal day, or a tour while it’s empty? ‘The making of’ a certain beer? Design process or early versions of artwork? Understandably you might not want to post memes, but can you run a quiz or ‘guess the beer’ competition or poll? Name your next beer? A spot the difference post?

These are just a few ideas, but hopefully are some useful thought starters as you plan out your company’s activities over the next few weeks and months. I’d love to hear about any more ideas, what you’re doing, and try to help others along the way. Please share this list to anyone who might find it interesting.

Stay tuned for more analysis of news and trends, as well as beers!

How to help beer survive COVID-19

This is a difficult time for everyone. While we are all staying at home, the hospitality sector has been hit hard and pubs, bars and breweries are feeling it. If you are reading I hope that this doesn’t include you, but if it does know that you have my support and if this is a useful list, please share.

So how can you help? Here’s three ways:

1 – Support pubs and breweries through CAMRA’s Pulling Together campaign

CAMRA, in partnership with SIBA and Crowdfunder, have launched a campaign called Pulling Together (#PullingTogether) to raise awareness of the initiatives pubs and breweries are carrying out during the coronavirus crisis. Learn more here and join the Facebook group here to stay up to date with what’s going on, and help where you can.

2 – Buy directly from the brewery or pub

While it may be an essential item, the supermarket is not the only place to buy your beer. Many breweries sell their beer online, and with smaller breweries suffering the most now’s the time to order directly. So visit your favourite brewery’s website, order in your staying at home supply, and support their business in the process.

Many pubs are also launching delivery, food and/or drink, giving you another option for getting beer straight to your door.

3 – Spread the word

Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell your neighbours (who may or may not be your friends). Share your love of beer with everyone you can, and get them involved in supporting businesses which need the help. Send them this list, and encourage them to share too if it’s something they also care about.

I know that there are sadly many businesses feeling the impact of COVID-19, not to mention those personally affected, and my heart goes out to all those that includes. We can get through this period together, and I hope that on the other side of it we will have learned the importance of community and mutual support.

An important bonus

Donate beer to NHS staff to thank them for their incredible work with Brewgooder.

Brewing in Brixton

Going into the seemingly tiny railway arch in Brixton which houses the London Beer Lab, my excitement was growing – I was there for a brewing session, not something I had done before, and I was going on my own. I was hoping the tasting aspect of the session would help with that part.

There were 16 of us there, broken down into groups and each given a recipe designed by the head brewer. I was part of a dream team making a single hop Citra, with cold brew coffee – an interesting concept. We were using a brew in the bag system – essentially a huge tea bag which you fill with your malt and soak, saving the effort of sieving out the grain after – so weighed out our ingredients and threw them in to mash for an hour.

Brewing at London Beer Lab
Brew baby brew

While that was going, we were given a really interesting and thorough talk by our guide, who talked through different types of grains used in brewing, and passed around samples of each for us to see, smell and taste. I’ve tried malted barley once before during a brewery tour, but it was amazing to see and try all these different types alongside each other – I really started to get a sense for how they can affect the end result of a beer, and where some of the flavours you drink come from. Next up were different types of hops, some British, some European and some American, which had the same effect on me. I’ve smelt hops before, but to get them in direct comparison was a new experience.

I should say at this point that this was also a beer tasting session – something to grease the wheels of spending 4 or 5 hours with complete strangers. We’d tried the London Beer Lab Table beer by this point already, and were now onto their Tip Top Citra APA, both of which were lovely to drink, as was the pint of the Session IPA I had downstairs at the bar a little bit later (and it was rather nice to share a pint with some new people – we’d all bonded a bit by that point). Being able to hold and smell Citra hops in one hand, whilst holding a beer made from them in the other was yet another great experience, and something which really helped me to feel like I understood the whole process a bit better. I have to say that it all tends to get a bit confusing when I try to read up on malts and hops and their flavours but the real-life, literally hands-on experience was completely different.

Tasting at London Beer Lab
Better than chemistry lessons at school

Anyway, once we brought our wort to the boil (if you haven’t brewed before, the wort is basically sugary water and the basis for any beer) and thrown in our first portion of hops, we had an hour to kill. This is when I got my pint in, and also when I took the opportunity to pick out the £25 worth of beers which came as part of the session – there was also the option to take home a brewing kit, but I already had the equipment at home and it didn’t come with any ingredients, plus it’s Christmas soon and I wanted some beer. By the time I was done browsing the shelves and fridges in the taproom I was actually over the £25, but was happy to pay the difference. I’ve listed out the beers I bought further down, but wanted to make sure I took some London Beer House own-brand home with me as a memento.

Once it was ready, we cooled the beer quickly with an immersion cooler (a coil of pipe which you run cold water through – much easier than the sink full of ice I have used when homebrewing in the past) and added in our next load of hops. Then it was a case of emptying the beer into a bucket, chucking in some yeast and sealing the top. The LBL team take it from there, and once it’s ready I’ll get a notification on Untappd and hopefully get a chance to go down to the taproom to taste it.

All in all, I loved the experience. I’ve done a little bit of homebrewing before (literally three times) but I don’t think you would need to have done it to understand the process and enjoy the session. Having that very real connection between the ingredients and the process makes for a really rewarding and educational few hours that have definitely changed the way I think about beer and reignited my interest in brewing at home.

Book your own session here:


Beers I took home:

  1. 2 bottles of London Brew Lab Mosaic Ekuanot Pale
  2. 2 bottles of London Brew Lab Session IPA
  3. 2 bottles of London Brew Lab Tip Top Citra IPA
  4. Double-Barrelled Seven Dollar Saturday Milk Stout
  5. Mondo Brewing/Yeastie Boys Ask for James
  6. Wiper and True Plum Pudding Porter
  7. Oliver Brewing Co/Stillwater Artisanal Shaken Not Stirred (Ramos Gin Fizz)