Recently SMILE had the honour to attend the EBC Brewing Science Group Technical Meeting at Maison des Brasseurs in Brussels, and we were invited to present our SMILE project to this distinguished group. Membership of the EBC Brewing Science Group includes the finest academic minds in Brewing Science in Europe and world leaders in the Brewing industry.
We were very encouraged with the attention and interest that SMILE received from the members. The concept of the SMILE Certificate in Brewing Entrepreneurship becoming the industry ‘entry-level’ standard was put forward, and it was welcomed that the Erasmus+ funded project will result in free access to tailored learning which has the potential to become a launch pad for further studies and specialisations into the world of brewing.
Following the meeting, we took up residence in the Exhibition Hall of the Brewers of Europe Forum for the forum dates of 7-8 June. As well as an exhibitors list representing every aspect of the brewing industry, the Forum boasted an impressive line-up of speakers over the two days. This was a very worthwhile experience and we met with people from all aspects of the Brewing Industry. In the field of training & development the Institute of Brewers & Distillers (IBD), CICERONE, KULueven and Sam Holloway from ‘Crafting a Strategy’ were also exhibiting, so we were in good company and had plenty of time to discuss and share experiences.
We were able to get away from the exhibition hall on a few occasions to take in some of the talks and panel discussions. Highlight for us was Tim Webbs talk ’50 years of misreading consumer preferences’, and talks form Katherina from BRLO, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (mikkeller), Frank Boon, Steve Hindy (Brooklyn Brewery) and Yvan De Baets (Brasserie de la Senne).
Impressive line-up on the Panel for the Plenary Session ‘The Renaissance of beer: managing growth and authenticity’
We also heard a very interesting talk from Carlsberg CEO, Cees ‘t Hart, on the topic ‘Purpose, health and sustainability will define the future of the beer category’, during which he spoke about the importance of Sustainability for the future of the industry. Speaking for his company, he says it is important to ensure a sustainable business model, and elaborated on the Carlsberg sustainability program, ‘Together Towards Zero’, which sets out targets in key areas… i.e. eliminate carbon emissions at breweries by 2030, 100% renewable electricity by 2022, zero water waste (and cut water usage by half) by 2030.
Johan Swinnen, Professor of Economics in the University of Leuven, Belgium and president of Beeronomics Society also gave a very interesting talk on ‘Global trends in Beer Consumption and Production’ which showed the extent that the traditional beer market has evolved in recent years. Professor Swinnen demonstrated how the global beer economy has evolved since 1960, with beer establishing itself as the world’s most popular alcoholic drink, boosted by the growth of consumption in emerging markets like China, India and Russia. Notable is the ‘great convergence’ which illustrates how the consumption in traditional beer markets is falling, while rising in the emerging markets, prompting a conclusion that as affluence rises so does beer consumption, but only to a point. There is a level of affluence where this trend reverses, perhaps as people turn towards drinks like wine which can be perceived as more sophisticated (a perception that is being challenged by the revolution in craft, and the way the craft industry is educating consumers about the sophistication, complexity and authenticity of diverse beer styles and beer/food pairing)
(Graphics courtesy of Professor Johan Swinnen,University of Leuven, co-author of ‘Beeronomics – How Beer Explains the World’, and ‘Economic Perspectives on Craft Beer – A Revolution in the Global Beer Industry‘)
You will note from Professor Swinnens Graphics above reference to Steve Hindy, Founder of Brooklyn Brewery, who had earlier provided a similar assessment in terms of Dollar Sales rather than Market Share. The way he put it was “6 out of every 10 dollars spent on beer in the US now is spent on tasty beer”.
It is fair enough to say the general impression we took away from the Forum is that Macro Beer Industry recognise the need to react to the consumer’s revolt away from ‘bland’ towards flavoursome, authentic and diverse beer styles. Another insightful message we took away from the forum was Sam Holloways assertion that “Being big is not the Only Strategy” where he identifies the advantages that small brewery has to adapt to consumer preference, and engage with customers in a much more intimate way. This is borne out by the fact that small companies are at the forefront of consistently creating innovative beers, and in doing so, educating consumers in beer styles, flavours, tasting notes and food pairing.This idea was reinforced later by Tim Webb (CAMRA) when he said “Craft beer is what happens when brewers meet customers and agree to entertain each other’s interests” (Here at SMILE we like to go one step further and say that Craft beer is what happens when discerning consumers become brewers).
Micro Brewing in communities where the industry has become established, results in creating jobs, creating strong local affinities, using local produce and services, and reinforcing the important link between, brewing, agriculture and the natural environment, and the concept of sustainable consumption and production in the food and beverage industry. SMILE brewing is committed to play its part in supporting and developing the Micro/Craft brewing sector in Europe because we believe that Macro and Micro Brewing are not mutually exclusive, and together can raise the profile of beer and build on each others success.
Making new friends at the BoE Forum.
Above: Pavlos Photiades, President of ‘The Brewers of Europe’ welcoming guests to the BoE Forum, Time out at the Brewing Science Group Meeting, Oliver Latapi & Dieter Pollok – Schulz, www.Cicerone.com, Dominique Williamsen – Norriq Drink-IT.