Urban Purveyor Group (UPG) has launched a new craft beer brand that will have its own brewpub presence as well as being distributed through its Bavarian Beer Cafe (BBC) chain, which will also undergo dramatic expansion.
Crafty Bavarian Brewing Company has been established in response to extensive feedback from BBC customers gathered by market research agency, Colmar Brunton, UPG CEO Thomas Pash told Australian Brews News.
“Our customers love our Bavarian approach, they love our Bavarian beer, but they also wanted some craft beers as well,” he said.
“We started listening to that at the beginning of last year and continued to see our customers ask for it.”
At this stage the Crafty Bavarian beers are being contract produced at Icon Brewing in Sydney and Southern Bay Brewing in Geelong.
However, Pash revealed the company plans to open four Crafty Bavarian Brewhouses, one in each major metropolitan market, starting with Sydney later this year – a process that may be kickstarted by acquiring an existing craft brewery.
“We’ve looked and we’re still looking. Is there a small label we could actually add to our portfolio, versus building it from the ground up?” he asked.
“We’re out there looking for mergers and acquisitions, but we’ve got the design and planning process going on to build our own brewery in this market.”
Each Crafty Bavarian Brewhouse will have its own hospitality offering, as well as supplying the beers to surrounding BBC venues.
A separate packaging facility will be established in Sydney to enable the brewer to can its own beers for national retail distribution.
Up to 30 new venues
Over and above the Crafty Bavarian rollout, Pash said the company aims to open up to 20 new BBC venues in the next two years, as well as additional venues under its larger format Munich Brauhaus banner.
Six locations have been signed in Queensland and seven in Victoria, with expansion into WA and SA to follow.
Many of the venues will be opened in partnership with Westfield and other shopping centre developers, following on from the success of the newest BBC, which opened at Westfield Miranda in the middle of last year.
“It’s doing extremely strong numbers right now,” said Pash.
All in all, UPG will be adding another 25 or 30 new venues, ambitious expansion Pash said had been enabled by the financial backing of the group’s new owner since August last year.
“Quadrant Private Equity are giving us the capital to be able to take some of our strategic programs and grow them and do them right. They’re very excited about our brands, especially Crafty Bavarian Brewing Co,” he said.
Still Bavarian to the core
The Crafty Bavarian range includes Munich Lager, Butcher’s Bride Pale Ale, a wheat and barley blend called Hop Dock and a low carb beer called Blonde Moment, while upcoming seasonal releases are to include a Porter and a Double IPA.
“Our bier professor Dom [Dighton] is helping us and we’re talking with some head brewers all over the world right now as far as recipes and flavour profiles,” said Pash.
He stressed however that there will be no change to the German beers currently available at BBC venues, which will have their taps expanded to pour the Crafty Bavarian beers.
“We felt we had a good platform to offer the best Bavarian beers and some of the best craft beers under the same roof,” said Pash.
Better value for customers
As a result of brewing beers locally and the addition of new menu options, Pash said BBC now has a better value offering.
He said this is important as the group continues to broaden its demographic appeal to include families, 20-somethings and retirees.
“You can have a nice craft beer and a burger for under $20, which you couldn’t do last year,” he said.
“If you went and had a litre of bier and pork knuckle, it’s $60. By adding burgers and hot dogs and salads and craft beers we’ve been able to get it down to a price point that’s attractive for lunch.”
Pash said the macro trend of declining Australian beer consumption has certainly not had any impact on BBC’s fortunes.
“Fifty per cent of everything we sell is still beer, and that’s actually up a couple of per cent in the last six months,” he said.