New research shows that beer enthusiasts are more open to trying new and different beers than ever, with 91% having tried a beer that they’d never consumed before in the last two months alone.

Feedback from more than 800 craft and modern beer consumers in October has identified that the changes in their behaviour bought on by the first lockdown are sticking as they continue to trial new brands, purchase from new places, and actively seek out local and independent beers.

The research is the first in a series of reports focused on tracking the behaviour of UK beer enthusiasts — a collaboration between Brew/LDN and KAM Media.

The first lockdown saw a surge in support from these beer enthusiasts for local taprooms and breweries; 79% said they were increasingly interested in supporting local breweries, and 31% purchased more direct from physical breweries and taprooms during lockdown. This is one trend which looks to be sticking, with 54% of beer enthusiasts having purchased from a taproom or brewery in the last two months (before the second lockdown commenced).

The beer enthusiasts were, unsurprisingly, keen to support pubs and bars when they re-opened in July, with two-thirds intending to visit the pub at least as frequently as normal. And they did not disappoint, with 88% saying they had purchased beer from a pub or bar in the last two months. Only 78% had purchased from a supermarket.

Daniel Rowntree, founder of Brew/LDN, said: “Without a doubt, 2020 has given the beer enthusiast an opportunity to take stock and evaluate their traditional, ingrained behaviours. The first lockdown sparked an interest in beer enthusiasts wanting to search out unique and interesting beers, and to support local breweries. This latest research suggests that the thirst for ‘something different’ isn’t going away any time soon!”

‘This new breed of beer enthusiast is definitely one to watch’

The study also showed that a much higher proportion of beer enthusiasts are now drinking nearly daily, compared with pre-March lockdown when only 5% said they drank more than six days a week. This figure rose to 19% during the first lockdown, and in the last two months has only fallen back to 16%. But no need for a moral panic here — many are generally only drinking one or two beers a day.

Many drinking occasions have moved out of the on-trade for obvious reasons, with 48% having drunk beer at home during an ‘online catch-up with friends’ (ie, a social Zoom call), 40% while watching sports on TV, and 35% say they have consumed beer in a park during the last two months.

Katy Moses, managing director of KAM Media, said: “This new breed of beer enthusiast is definitely one to watch. They are more curious and adventurous when it comes to how they interact with the category.

“Understanding the increasingly diverse drinking occasions will be critical to brands and operators in both the on and off-trade. Their habits changed fairly drastically in the first lockdown, and this latest research shows some of those habits are here to stay.”

• The full report can be viewed at brewldn.com/tradeinfo

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