People’s perception of stout has changed in recent years with it previously being attributed to their grandfather’s or father’s to now being seen as a modern, progressive drink, according to Wojciech Bogusz, Heineken’s marketing director.
Stout has always been more popular in the on-trade than the off-trade so sales were hit really hard when the pubs were closed or severely restricted over much of 2020 and 2021. In 2019, 80.9% of stout consumed was in the on-trade, with 19.1% from the off-trade. The share of stout consumed in the on-trade fell by 52.3% from 2019 to 2021 to 38.6%, with 61.2% consumed from the off-trade last year.
Figures from Drinks Ireland show that consumption of stout by volume in the domestic market recovered by 25.7% between 2020 and 2021, but was still down by 10.3% compared to 2019 pre-pandemic sales. While overall alcohol consumption declined during the pandemic, the general longer-term trend in Ireland is also that consumption is falling, down by around 33% since 2001.
While the volume of consumption declined, stout grew its share of the beer market, with its percentage share of consumption up by 6.6% between 2019 and 2021. It also grew its percentage share of production, up by 5% during this time. However, production, by volume, was down by 50% between 2019 and 2021, from 5,298,320 HL to 2,652,804 HL.
Drinks Ireland notes that recovery in the beer sector was underway in the second half of 2021 as venues reopened. This recovery will have been further supported as all hospitality restrictions were removed last year.
Jonathan McDade, Director of Drinks Ireland|Beer said: “Irish stout is renowned the world over, so it’s positive to see some of the recovery underway after two difficult years. Despite challenges in the market, such as inflationary and cost of living pressures, we hope to see a strong year ahead. There are a range of great options for stout drinkers in Ireland, with new products hitting the market in recent years, including non-alcoholic alternatives.”
Take me to the Island
Wojciech Bogusz, Heineken’s marketing director speaks to Drinks Industry Ireland about the brand which is brewed right in the heart of Cork is bringing something new to the very established and competitive stout market and has been launched with a very clever marketing campaign in one of Dublin’s most beloved pubs
Ireland’s stout sector was heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with production and domestic sales falling between 2019 and 2021. What are your predictions for 2023 for the stout market?
There has been an influx of new customers into the stout category over the past three years and we expect to see this continue. People’s perception of stout has changed in that time with previously being attributed to their grandfather’s or father’s to now being seen as a modern, progressive drink. We think this, along with the consumers’ appetite for new in the category, will contribute to further growth.
For those tasting stout for the first time a common opinion is that stout can be too bitter. How have you overcome this with Island’s Edge?
It’s all in the brew! Using the insight we gained from consumer focus groups that there was an appetite for a less bitter tasting stout, and the expert guidance of our master brewer PJ Tierney, we tested over 200 different recipes before landing on one we, and the consumer, loved.
How has your marketing campaign “It’s better, less bitter’ been received by the public?
Our new campaign has been received incredibly well. The humour and sociability of it being set in an iconic Irish pub, Harry Byrnes of Clontarf, have really resonated with the audience. Seeing consumers adopt ‘It’s better less bitter’ by calling out bitterness in the social sphere has been fantastic to see… I’m sure there’s a few Gary’s out there who are feeling the effect of the campaign too!
You’ve recently changed the Island’s Edge glass. What spurred that decision and what benefits will the drinker have?
You could say the pint glass is almost tantamount to the product itself in the stout drinker’s eye. It’s vitally important to get it right. We constantly evaluate all aspects of the brand with the goal of having the best assets in place and this was one area where we felt we could tweak and improve. We looked at many different glasses including those that we all know and love, but found audiences really took to our new Island’s Edge glass. Not only did they find it innovative but also that it respected the heritage of stout.
The stout market in Ireland is highly competitive. What differentiates Island’s Edge from other stouts for the customer?
We knew launching into such a competitive category with well established brands that we needed to be different. From the tone of voice in our advertising to our pint glass we strived to stand out from the crowd while still respecting the heritage of stout and what the consumer expects and wants. A perfect example of this is in our flavour profile, providing a less bitter taste but still delivering a smooth and creamy stout.
Is Island’s Edge an authentic Irish stout?
Island’s Edge was conceived, developed and is brewed right in the heart of Cork, at Lady’s Well Brewery, a place where stout has been brewed for over 150 years! Our master brewer PJ Tierney watches masterfully over the entire brewing process of our entire stout portfolio, but Island’s Edge is the first stout we developed from the ground up using all of his knowledge, and love, of stout.
Rye River Brewing Company is one of Ireland’s largest independent craft breweries and with over 150 awards to its name, is the most decorated brewery in the world for the third consecutive year at the World Beer Awards. In recent years, Rye River Brewing Co. Nocturne Export Stout took centre stage when crowned the World’s Best Stout & Porter at the 2020 World Beer Awards. This Stout is pitch black with a lovely tan head and has an amazing aroma of coffee, chocolate and a hint of smoke. The taste is full of espresso and dark chocolate flavours from the chocolate malt. You could while away an hour sipping on this tasty Export Stout. Their stout portfolio doesn’t end there, with Rye River Brewing Co. Eventide Irish Stout available in draught. This is a traditional Irish stout with a silky coffee, chocolate and toffee aroma. A delicate and balanced bitterness that finishes dry as a great Irish stout should!
BRÚed to perfection!
In Galway Bay Beer Co customer choice is key – the customer is offered a range of stouts, Ostara from Galway Bay Brewery, BRÚ Stout from BRÚ Brewery as well as Guinness in some venues and its own brands remain very popular.
BRÚ Brewery Stout is a dry Irish Nitro stout with notes of roasted barley, rich dark chocolate and chewy toffee, oats are used in the recipe to give it a smooth and silky mouthfeel. BRÚ Stout an approachable take on the classic style that’s suitable for all occasions. Eight malts give this stout an unctuous and creamy body, making it an easy-drinking choice. (draught only)
Galway Bay Brewery Ostara is brewed to be complex but quaffable. The company took some of its imperial stout tricks and adapted them to a lower abv recipe base. The result has layered malts and with some lovely chocolate notes finished with a nice hop zing to help clean the palate. (draught and 330ml cans).