The multinational brewery and pub chain BrewDog – based in the ancient Aberdeenshire town of Ellon – is no stranger to controversy, with a range of beers including the Tactical Nuclear Penguin, Sink the Bismarck and a 55% ABV, The End of History. And with the announcement at their Annual General Mayhem (the hipsters Annual General Meeting) that they are to launch a new chilled transport network that will allow the company greater control over its supply chain, it comes as no surprise then that BrewDogs bombastic grandiloquence is reflected in its logistical operations.
In moving towards having a temperature controlled supply chain – known in industry circles as a Cold Chain – founder James Watt states that BrewDog is aiming to be the first UK Company to provide consistent storage with our transport partners.
But why is having a Cold Chain so important?
In simple terms, chemical reactions will go faster at a higher temperature; think: the pears left on the countertop that in the summer heat will happily turn to mush. Beer is no different. A recent study has found that beer stored at 30 degrees for 30 days will age the same as beer stored at 3 degrees for 365 days. Temperature controlled storage is therefore integral to maintaining the integrity of the product.
However, by no means will the beer be undrinkable if there is no Cold Chain, but it is important to remember that BrewDogs target markets are not your average lager drinker, content with a slightly-flat-always-too-warm lower end product; they look for a particular bitterness and sweetness, a complex bouquet of flavours balanced perfectly against optimum carbonization. With this market in mind, it is clear that flavour is everything. There can also be no doubt that beer consumers are becoming more fickle, and with craft beer often registering triple the growth rates of the total beer market (it grew 14% in Europe in 2014/15), it is important to maintain consistency to preserve your consumer goodwill.
BrewDog has already trialled this Cold Chain to an extent, convincing Tesco to put in several refrigerated beer sections in their stores to ensure BrewDog products did not have to sit on the warm shelves. It is no surprise that this proved to be a great success, with increased sales reported.
It is clear that moving toward a temperature controlled supply chain will have significant commercial implications for BrewDog. Indeed, a recent report by Grand View Research Inc has found that the Cold Chain market in North America is to reach USD 118.51 billion by 2025, and that a well developed Cold Chain can help synchronise supply management techniques and allow greater access to international markets, so this is a solid demonstration of forward-thinking by the Aberdeenshire outfit.
Even the most expertly crafted artisanal beer will, with time, lose its bitterness through oxidization, and even the most successfully run drinks company will lose its cutting-edge individuality through increased consumer expectation; in rolling out this bold new addition to its supply chain, BrewDog is not only protecting its beer; it is protecting its business.
A crafty move indeed by the master crafters – I’ll drink to that!