Waitrose boosts craft beer line up

Waitrose is gearing up to add 27 new craft beers to its range, with the new additions set to go on shelf from 1 May.

Sarah Hammond, Waitrose’s beer and cider buyer, told OLN: “It will be a combination of some new brewers and some lovely exclusivity with some existing brewers.

“We will be extended our beer range by adding these craft beers but we are also taking out some beers from bottled lager as there was duplication in this sector, particularly in terms of format. We undertrade in bottled lager and we overtrade in speciality beers, so it makes sense to do this.

"We are seeing 33% year-on-year growth in speciality beers, so we are outperforming the market by 11%. We have a market share of 6.5% in speciality beers in the off-trade, whereas this sector of beer only accounts for around 3% of the total beer market. We believe the market will grow a lot more in this country and also Waitrose is in a good position to take a bigger share of this.”

Waitrose already stocks Windsor & Eton’s Treason, brewed by its sister brewery Uprising, which Hammond said has been doing really well. The supermarket will now take on more beers from the producer: Uprising White Riot and the exclusive Wasteland, which is a double IPA, and at 10% abv, “it is beautiful and really rich”, according to Hammond. “It felt like they brewed it for us; we have a really good relationship with them.”

The beer team at Waitrose contacted around 30 brewers when they decided to expand the range, and consequently they had a lot of samples to choose from.

“We wanted to differentiate our range from the rest of the market and I wanted to see if we could push our customers a bit further into new areas of craft beer, so we have included some with a high abv and some unusual flavours.”

Some of the more challenging beers added to the line up include Alechemy’s Bring Out The Imp, which is a 10.5% abv Imperial Oatmeal Stout. The beer is fermented with Belgian yeast and aged for three months in 55-year old whisky casks. 

“They currently supply us with some beers but these are limited to our Scotland stores; their beers will now go into 80 branches around the UK,” she explained.

The extended craft beer range will also include more cans, as the supermarket retailer has seen good growth in this area.

Other exclusives include a “delicious and rich” Chocolate Porter from Thornbridge Brewery while beers from outside of the UK include one from Bavaria and the Gunmatta Earl Grey IPA from New Zealand’s The Yeastie Boys. 

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