US flavoured craft beer invasion gaining pace

Flavour boom: TailGate founder predicts rise in flavoured craft beer consumption

Flavoured craft beer is the juggernaut powering the growth of Tennessee’s self-proclaimed largest craft beer producer across The Pond to the UK, a trend TailGate Beer founder Wesley Keegan does not envisage slowing.

Uniquely flavoured craft beers are likely to keep punters piling into British pubs, better able to react to new trends than the supermarkets, which have expanding craft beer offers at cheaper prices.

“As long as the on-trade continues to improve and change its beer menus [to react to changing demands] then take up will continue to grow,” Keegan told The Morning Advertiser (MA).

The native Californian, who started brewing in San Diego 11 years ago before moving the operation to Tennessee less than three years ago, believes flavoured brews are an interesting prospect for drinkers.

“I don’t think the growth of flavoured craft beers will reach a point where there will be too many different ones,” explained Keegan.

“In California, people always said there will one day be too much red wine, but that hasn’t happened and there is certainly more space for them to grow.”

Peanut Butter Milk Stout

Peanut Butter Milk Stout, which launched in the UK last year, is the brewery’s biggest seller in the US and is becoming the most popular in the UK too, he said. Also available in the UK are another two TailGate brews: Grapefruit IPA and Watermelon Wheat.

The beers are produced at the new custom 50-barrel brewhouse in Nashville, which was recently opened.

TailGate also operates various brewpubs in the US and taprooms, where there are 80 beer taps.

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Keegan would be open to collaborating with UK brewers as a way to develop the brand here, he told MA.

“It’s really interesting, the US and UK brewers have very similar interests and, in London alone, the number of breweries has grown considerably over the years,” he said.

“I don’t have any partnerships in London at the moment, but I would be open to that. There a lots of interesting brewers here, Cloudwater has done some amazing things and there are a couple of newer guys that I like.”

Brewing behemoths

As for brewing behemoths buying out smaller brewers in the UK – such as AB InBev’s acquisition of Camden Town Brewery – Keegan did not necessarily see it as an issue.

Instead, he explained, it could be beneficial to the quality and reach of smaller beer brands, adding that getting great-tasting and well-produced beer into the hands of more people could only be a good thing.

When asked whether he was looking to sell or receive private equity, he said: “No one has left a cheque on my desk.

“But I’m fairly open to anything. I built this business over 11 years and I’ll explore anything.”

Imports of US craft beer have risen dramatically over the years, according to figures from the Brewers Association, an organisation that supports craft brewers in the US.

Last year UK imports of US craft beer rose by 4.4%, making Britain the second highest importer of the brews.

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