Former Head Chef at the Purty Kitchen in Dun Laoghaire James Winans has launched Vanguard Beer Collective, a one-stop shop which offers a dual service to both publicans and craft brewers by taking the hassle out of buying and supplying craft beers. This is believed to be the first such company to offer this business model in Ireland.
The Texan, who has lived in Dublin for 11 years, says his love of craft beers began when he lived in Colorado which has a strong tradition of micro-brewing. Living and working in Dublin as a chef, James found a gap in the market concerning the management and supply of craft beer in a rapidly growing market.
“While working in The Purty Kitchen we lost the pub’s best-selling and most popular brews due to logistical issues of getting beer from the micro-breweries to the pub in Dublin,” James commented, “It was too difficult for the breweries with just one or two staff to manage all the elements. This, combined with many observations about inefficiencies in the Irish craft beer industry convinced me that a better way was possible and necessary.”
Brewers have less time to brew while managing orders and deliveries. At the same time publicans have to deal with each brewery individually, resulting in lots of additional work generating separate orders, invoicing, servicing and frequent late or no deliveries, he explained. Vanguard Beer Collective simplifies these road-bumps by running all of the processes through one company in a one-stop shop that facilitates both publicans and micro-brewers.
The company can offer publicans a large and expanding selection of Irish craft beers on tap and in bottle form. It also provides transportation, installation and maintenance of lines for each pub while offering staff training and a package that consolidates ordering, delivery and invoicing from a range of different breweries to just one single contact.
Microbrewers benefit by increasing turnover without additional costs or personnel, giving additional market share to each microbrewer and guaranteeing greater brand awareness. As each beer is added to the Vanguard Beer Collective portfolio it’s automatically introduced to a wide range of new and existing customers around the country, supported by a marketing plan.
Vanguard currently represents a range of micro-beers including 8 Degrees, Trouble Brewing, Bru Brewery, Dublin 5 Lamps and Porterhouse Brewing. Having launched just before Christmas the company has already secured 37 pubs between Dublin and Gorey with the aim of expanding nationwide. The current portfolio of clients includes popular gastro-pub The Chop House in Dublin 4, Boomers in Clondalkin, The Paddocks in Meath, The Bridge Tavern and The Ashford House in Wicklow.
Vanguard offers ‘keykegs’ to clients and customers. Smaller in size (60%) to regular kegs, keykegs are provided to the micro-breweries for filling as they’re disposable and crushable for recycling and keep the beer much fresher by limiting oxidation inside the keg.
The keykegs also benefit publicans wishing to trial a smaller amount of the beer with their customers.
When working as Head Chef at The Purty Kitchen in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, James was a driving force in the selection of beer. He also actively promoted the integration of the beer and food offering which led to the award of Best Gastro Pub in Dublin from the RAI just nine months after opening. During his time there he made many observations about the inefficiencies of the Irish craft beer industry which prompted him to develop his new business.
His goal for 2014 is to reach €1 million turnover based on acquiring five new accounts per month. His long-term plan is to export Irish craft beer internationally.
“I’ve also a somewhat self-serving mission to normalise craft beers so that they are available everywhere I go,” he confided.