Craft and specialty beer at Royal Unibrew

“Fundamentally, Craft and specialty beer is not about beer types and the latest whims of fashion – it is about who we are, and how we want to be perceived. And, craft and specialty beer is an idealistic idea about doing things better and differently – and about being honest and on the same wavelength as consumers.” This statement was made by the internationally acclaimed master brewer Anders Kissmeyer, who has spearheaded Royal Unibrew’s ambitious Craft and specialty beer venture since 2016.

Below, Anders Kissmeyer gives us his thoughts on current trends in the rapidly growing Craft and specialty beer market.

Why are we seeing growth of this magnitude these years in demand for Craft and specialty beer in a market that is declining in many countries?

I am positive that the increasing interest in Craft and specialty beer should be viewed in the context of the very general consumer trends. We are generally seeing consumers going for local products, high quality and health, something new and sustainable. Craft and specialty beer fits this picture very well because Craft and speciality beer is indeed about the local initiative, about being an active player in the local communities. It is also about constant innovation and about replacing expensive machinery with passion and dedication. In short, it is about authenticity.

What is the story behind Craft beer?

Going back in time a little bit, you will actually see that the Craft beer markets developed more or less along the same pattern, with the USA as the front runner. In the USA, the brewing of and interest in Craft beer date all the way back to the 1970s, and today the country is still at a more advanced stage than we are in our part of the world. Here, we only see the Craft beer market really begin to develop in the 1990s and 2000s when a number of new, small specialty breweries are established, and when Craft beer gradually wins some market share as the range gets broader.

In the 2010s, the Craft beer market continues to mature, and today we are seeing a heavily increasing interest in Craft beer across western European markets. In recent years, we have also seen the range of Craft beer expand considerably in all countries.

What is happening within Craft and specialty beer right now?

At Royal Unibrew, we are in the middle of a very ambitious venture involving Craft and specialty beer, and we have over the past years launched a number of new, innovative products in our markets. In Denmark, the most well-known brands are Lottrup, Schiøtz, Tivoli Beer and Kissmeyer, in the Baltic countries, they are Vilkmerges, Kalnapillis Bergschlossen and Lacplesis Starburags, and in Finland, Lahden Erikois. Besides our existing markets, we are also endeavouring to gradually develop a position in other markets which we are convinced will find our high-quality Craft and specialty beer to their taste.

In the past year, we established the Theodor Schiøtz Brewing Company in Odense comprising our new specialty beer brewery and a new pub which will open in 2018. We also established new facilities for brewing Craft and specialty beer in Finland. These are both pivotal points of our craft and specialty beer innovation and provide us with completely new opportunities.

Where is Craft and specialty beer headed?

There is no doubt that the Craft and specialty beer category will continue developing. Consumers constantly expect something new, and their taste is becoming more sophisticated. Therefore, I do think that we will see, among other things, a broader selection of taste varieties and beer types, the use of new raw materials and ingredients and the use of new production techniques in the coming years. It is my vision to create a new category called “New Nordic Beer” with its own style and character, in a broad working relationship across the industry and the entire value chain.