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Former Greene King and EI execs invest in revamped Hofmeister beer

Hofmeister, the former 80’s Scottish lager brand that was revived as a German craft beer in 2017, has attracted investment from two former pub group heavyweights who argue that it has the potential to become one of the UK’s top world beers.

Hofmeister Verdigris Tonbridge restaurant kent scott goss beer helles lager

The two pub executives, Kim Francis former managing director of Ei Group and Euan Venters, former-MD of brands and pubs at Greene King will also become board members, with Venters, who helped launch Fosters and Holsten Pils in the UK as well as working on brands including Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Belhaven Best, focusing on building Hofmeister’s brand credentials, while Francis, whose most recent role saw him run 1,900 pubs in London and the South East, lends his expertise to how it targets and grows its distribution.

Euan Venters

They are joining drinks entrepreneurs Spencer Chambers and Richard Longhurst, who bought the retired brand from Scottish Courage and relaunched it in November 2016 as Hofmeister Helles, a premium, slow brewed Helles lager made in Bavaria by the fourth generation family-owned Schweiger brewery, in the Ebersberger Forest in Hallertau.

Previously, Hofmeister was the fourth biggest beer brand in the UK, a mainstream, high volume 3.2% abv pale lager produced by Scottish Courage in the UK from the 1980s to 2004 which ran a well-known advertising campaign urging consumers to ‘follow the bear’, referencing its pork-pie hat wearing bear mascot, George.

Francis said he was intrigued by the new look Hofmeister when he came across it at a trade show last year. “I first tasted the beer and thought it was amazing. Then I talked to Richard and Spencer about their plans for the brand and could see what an enormous opportunity this was.”

“They have a beer, a brand and a plan that can make Hofmeister the most compelling beer brand in the market,” he said.

Venters added that Chambers and Longhurst had done a “fabulous job” bringing it to life and it was now a case of evolving its brand positioning and distribution.

“Hofmeister already has such strong brand awareness and affection, which usually costs millions to get, and we now have the authenticity as well. We think it will be a huge success,” he said.

Kim Francis

The plan is to build the brand in London and the South East, positioning Hofmeister in both specialist retail and on-trade outlets and attracting attention from both the multiple and national players. It is looking at be in around 1,200 – 1,400 of hte top bars, restaurants and hotels in the next four years, with sales of around £10 million. It is backing this up with a premium point of sale offer and Hofmeister branded glassware range, courtesty of Longhurst and Chamber’s experience in drinks gifting.

Venters said the world beer market was wide open for a quality German beer. “The product is fabulous, it looks good and you have this brilliant entrepreneurs story. That’s why we believe in it,” he said.

Next month two other beers will be added to the portfolio, Hofmeister Weisse, a 5.1% abv traditional Bavarian wheat beer, and a 0.5% abv Bavarian Helles lager called Hofmeister Ultra Low.

Helles lager is made in keeping with the German Reinheitsgebot beer purity brewing law that dates back to 1516 and means it can only use three local ingredients (mineral water, barley and hops).


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