Bayern Beer Coy was launched with headquarters in York and Munich two years ago with the mission of find heritage craft brewers in Germany and importing their best beers to the UK.
The firm currently has two partner breweries in Bavaria, one in Cologne and supplies distributors in the UK including Beer Hawk and Pivovar.
Craft Beer World caught up with Graeme Kyle, the Director of Bayern Beer Coy, to discuss their plans for the future.
Can you tell us about the history behind Bayern Beer Coy?
Bayern Beer Coy was started in 2014 by two university friends, Kieron Kane and myself. We’re fairly unique in that one of us is based here in England while the other (Kieron) lives in Munich, Germany. We set out with one simple aim – to bring the highest quality handcrafted beers from Bavaria to the UK. Our partner breweries are all privately or family owned, steeped in history, and specialists in the style of beer they produce. Our business grew strongly in our first full year and in 2015 we appointed a sales director to target the primary UK distributors and retailers.
Why is the UK a good market for Bavarian beers?
Much like the CAMRA revolution in real ales, UK consumers increasingly demand higher quality lagers instead of generic, mass market products. This evolution in consumer taste is driving the demand for Bavarian beers – after all the lagerbier concept was born in Bavaria. The quality of Bavarian beer is generally speaking second to none. In Germany the meisterbrauer must have a degree level qualification in brewing and in most Bavarian towns enjoys a high status in society. Bavarian breweries are seeped in heritage and in most cases the production methods have changed very little over the centuries. This provenance is increasingly valued in developed markets such as the UK. Furthermore the vast majority of Bavarian beer is brewed under the German Purity Laws and therefore contain no preservatives/colourings/chemicals that can cause short and long-term illness to the drinker.
What are the most important factors when choosing partner breweries?
The three most important factors are heritage, provenance and something unique that sets the beer apart from similar products. There are hundreds of breweries to choose from so in order to add value to our customers we need to discover the ‘hidden gems’. A great example is our biggest selling beer, Mittenwalder, which is brewed 1000m above sea level in the Alps, and is the highest privately owned brewery in Germany. The beer is brewed using fresh Alpine spring water and is handcrafted using the same time served methods for 200 years.
How are heritage craft brewers in Germany approaching the evolving market?
The craft beer market is now dominated by big players such as Brooklyn and BrewDog at one end of the spectrum and the small batch guys at the other. The German heritage craft brewers are stuck between these two stools. Many have tried to react but in reality they seem a bit overwhelmed. Without the distribution or contemporary marketing they are finding it difficult to position themselves in the market. What attempts have been made have often floundered with a high financial impact and sharp pulling in of horns. These breweries always seem to have one eye on the local market, and it is a compromise that has not really worked until now. Of course this provides Bayern Beer Coy with plenty of opportunity!