Our discussion on local real ales certainly revealed just what a passionate and knowledgeable lot our members are when it comes to local beers.

We’ve been delighted with just how many members joined in to tell us about their favourite real ales and breweries from their local area, as we look to bring more local products to our Co-op Food stores. So, a big thank you to the 900 plus of you who completed our online survey or added a comment to our blog post.

Here’s what we learned

  • Members liked the idea of the Co-op exploring more local real ales, with a score of 9.4/10 thumbs up to us stocking local favourites
  • Bottled ale from local breweries was our members’ favourite way of drinking real ale, followed by ‘any way it comes’
  • Members’ comments were overwhelmingly positive about the Co-op’s intention to expand our local real ale offer, with many saying the approach was inherently co-operative
  • There was a strong preference across the UK for IPAs or pale ales
  • Scottish participants and those from England’s South East, Yorkshire and North East and North West were particularly in favour of IPAs or pale ales whilst other areas of the UK preferred bitter. In the Midlands, members preferred golden ale
  • A number of members did caution about the affordability of bottled beers and asked that we to be mindful that if breweries were classed as ‘small’ it doesn’t necessarily mean their products are good

This map features some of our member-endorsed breweries.

ales1ales2

Click to view PDF map

What next?

Our Cornwall ale range will go into shops in February, following which we’ll be relaunching our local range in Scotland. Hopefully members will be pleased by some of the new entrants. We’ll be refreshing other ranges throughout 2017 so this member input will be invaluable.

What’s more, such was the fantastic response to this discussion, the team and I are also going to be looking at whether we can bring some of our members’ comments in-store with shelf edge labels and recommendations.

Don’t forget there are lots more ways for you to Join in with your Co-op just log into your account for more details.

Sue Wade
Category Trading Manager for Local products

Join the conversation! 27 Comments

  1. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to stock ales from the small, very local breweries in store? Chesterfield has several eg; Brampton, Peak, Raw, Ashove, Barlow and Townes to name but a few! It’s a way of supporting local jobs as well as the local economy. Cheers!

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    • That’s what we’re doing, right across the nation. ^Jordan

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      • No your not , several of the breweries that are mentioned on your list are part of very very large breweries . is Ringwood brewery is actually Marstons .
        Adams , Sharps , shepherd Neame , etc are renowned for being very aggressive towards , smaller breweries & can certainly undercut other’s because they produce such large volumes .
        I hope that you print this reply so that other’s like myself can see that while I agree with the principle of what your trying to do , Without letting local managers decide what could or couldn’t sell best in there stores independent small & very small breweries still do not have a chance of promoting their products .
        Steve McKechnie

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fails to mention that most of the comments on the discussion were not asking for local beers, but better quality up and coming craft breweries. Beer is about flavour, taste, quality over location.
    And the beers that we’re sent out for taste testing were very dull and brown.

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    • The feedback from members was a great mix of brews local to them and local breweries with a wider distribution and the great thing was everyone has their own flavours and tastes they enjoy. We had some great feedback on the ale tasting – look out for more updates coming soon. But as with everything, some members really loved them and others didn’t depending on what they enjoyed.

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      • If you’re going to go ahead with those then you’re not appealing the growth sector of the beer market. They were just varying shades of brown water as you’d expect from Robinsons brewery. You’ll not gain incremental sales, just split sales from existing brown water beers.

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  3. This is fab, local brewery to me, Fallen Acorn Brewing

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  4. Just a type on the map; it is Lymestone Brewery in Stone, Staffordshire not Limestone.

    Cheers!

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  5. It’s disappointing that I can’t see my local award winning brewery http://www.bragdylleu.cymru on the map having been recommended by many people in this area during the campaign. Will you be continuing your campaign, and adding new micro breweries to your list?

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Rest assured that ALL of the suggestions have gone through to our local sourcing team – these are just a reflection of the “most mentioned” across the UK . Huge thanks for feeding back.

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      • I think you’ll find J Davies that if your local brewery is not accredited or complies with certain guidelines set by large supermarket chains . Like my local brewery their beers will not appear , !

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      • Should put a better title on the map. My initial reaction to seeing none of Norfolk’s great small breweries like Wolf or Humpty Dumpty on there was “well, I’ll not bother filling out coop surveys again because they seem to be ignoring my comments or pretending they haven’t got them!”

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  6. Be good to get ‘guest’ beers from other regions too, keep mixing it up. Please don’t just focus on bitters, remember us stout / porter lovers too!

    Liked by 1 person

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    • You’ll be pleased to know Richard that we’re moving on to other local drinks very soon. We’ve got an opportunity live at the moment where we’re looking at local snacks but then “drinks” is the next on the list. Log in to your membership account if you’ve got any suggestions for crisps, sweets, biscuits, cakes etc

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    • Yup, also a porter fan too. Everyone’s doing IPA which is rather saturating the market and not leaving rom for much else…

      Understand from making money point of view, but shame about the reduced choice.

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    • Which is your favourite local beer, Richard? ^Sophie

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  7. It is good that there is local beers going to be available, however it was nice if the Co-Op to just wipe Northern Ireland off the map of the UK and discount our local breweries.

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    • These are just a reflection of the “most mentioned” across the UK. All local ranges were looked into by our local sourcing team. ^Sophie

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  8. It was disappointing to report the bottled beers sent to members to taste were not very inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. I see that you are selecting a few local brewers in Scotland. However, the west of Scotland is almost completely neglected. All local Co-ops should have the option to purchase local beers from local brewers. This will then save the environment and our carbon footprint, and also support local employment.

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    • These are just a reflection of the “most mentioned” across the UK. All local ranges were looked into by our local sourcing team. ^Sophie

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  10. Rebellion brewery Marlow
    The ales they produce are superb.
    Love to see Red or Blonde in my local store,

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  11. Great initiative although it’s puzzling why it’s taken so long. The range in my local store is pretty uninspiring. Southern cooperative have been doing it well for years, even my Tesco Express have a few local beers!

    Can I echo a few comments above: Quality should be just as important as local, it would be nice to maybe have ‘guests’ from across the country. The focus on bitters does risk a lack of variety, don’t forget porters, stouts, craft lager etc.There’s a danger of just picking the best seller from each brewery which will inevitably be a mid range bitter or IPA, with the result that the overall range will be very samey.

    A couple of brewery mentions:

    Thameside in Staines has been winning awards although not sure if they bottle yet.

    Sulwath in Castle Douglas does some really great beers.

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  12. […] One of our most popular opportunities was when we asked members about their favourite local real ales. Over 900 members waxed lyrical about their favourite local tipples and you can see what we learnt on the main Co-op blog. […]

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