Which beers do Brits actually want to drink?

Japanese beer brand Kirin has found that “brand heritage” is one of the most crucial factors for choosing a beer at the bar, but contrasting research shows that punters don’t really know where their brew comes from.

(photo: YURIKO NAKAO/Reuters/Corbis)

Kirin Ichiban surveyed more than 2,000 members of the public to determine how they spend their free time, and more than half (53%) said they would prefer to spend it in a boozer.

Once in, one in three said they opt for a premium global beer over anything else. In terms of making a choice, 70% respondents said that quality was a crucial factor, followed by “superior taste,” which 61% of people said was important.

The results also revealed that 79% of respondents rated “philosophy and brand heritage” as highly important when selecting a beer.

However, a YouGov survey backed by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) which was released this week paints a slightly different picture. It found that nearly three quarters (74%) of drinkers say they’re concerned that small independent breweries are being bought by larger multinational drinks companies in the UK.

There are some similarities between both surveys. While Kirin’s highlighted the importance of heritage in marketing, CAMRA’s study warned that consumers are confused over what, exactly, is in their glass.

Heineken acquired a minority stake in Beavertwon earlier this year (Photo: Beavertown)

CAMRA’s survey was released in conjunction with the Great British Beer Festival, an annual collaboration with the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) which represents and celebrates hundreds of independent producers from around the UK.

It said that, at the festival in Kensington Olympia, an seal of certification will appear on festival bar banners next to “truly independent craft brewers, as well as in the event guide’s tasting notes.”

“Beer drinkers want to know the brew in their glass has been made by a truly independent craft beer,” said Mike Benner, SIBA’s chief executive.

“SIBA are delighted to see CAMRA backing the ‘Assured Independent British Craft Brewer’ initiative at their flagship event and the UK’s biggest beer festival.”

CAMRA said its research demonstrates “the continuing shift in consumer preferences away from global brewers and towards beers that are considered to be of local provenance.”

The news comes after a number larger beer firms have snapped up or invested in UK independent brewers to keep apace with the craft beer trend. Kirin is distributed in the UK by Marston’s, which owns a number of brands familiar to UK pub-goers including Brakspear, Shipyard, and DE14.

The great British beer festival aims to celebrate the UK’s thousands of independent brewers. (Photo: GBBF)

Heineken, which also runs Kirin’s Brazilian operations, bought a minority stake in the business earlier this year for £40 million, which Beavertown said will go towards the construction of a new brewing facility expected to create 150 jobs.

One thing that both studies agreed on, however, is that consumers are more concerned with provenance than ever.

John Clements, head of commercial marketing at Marston’s, said: “The results of the survey identified a number of things; firstly that consumers are more time poor than ever, and what was interesting, is that consumers are now looking to spend these precious hours in pubs, trying new things, and trading up their usual order.

“In recent years it’s been reported that wet led pubs have begun to rise again, and our survey findings do appear to mirror this.

“There is now fantastic opportunity for operators to train their teams on the importance of beer, its heritage, brewing processes, and any brand stories – because consumers are truly interested.”

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