Specialist online retailer, Best of British Beer, has joined forces with its neighbour Lymestone Brewery to devise a completely original concept by offering customers the chance to become ‘virtual brewers’ and take part in the creation of a brand new beer.
For an initial membership investment of just GBP £10, redeemable against the finished beers, all virtual brewers will have the opportunity to decide exactly how the finished product will taste. When the beers are produced, they will be labelled featuring the name of every person who became a member and bought a share, before being sold via the Best of British Beer website.
“There is currently a huge resurgence in the world of micro-brewed beers and the UK boasts over 1000 privately owned breweries – the highest level since World War II,” explained Will Sherwin, Managing Director of Best of British Beer. “There is a trend for people turning their backs on bland, mass-produced imported lagers in favour of more local ales with quality ingredients made in the traditional way. To go one step further and be a part of the brewing process will definitely appeal to the discerning customer.
“Ultimately we want to produce a beer than can be entered into beer festival competitions and hopefully be recognised as an award winner.”
Best of British Beer has come a long way since its inception 18 months ago when husband and wife team Will and Gill Sherwin started working from their garden shed. Their fledgling business is now rapidly expanding, with the website becoming hugely popular with beer aficionados in a very short space of time.
Will is enthused by offering BoB’s customers the chance to become virtual brewers and thinks the company’s loyal customer base and prospective purchasers will be excited by the idea too. “We’ve had the idea of ‘a beer brewed by the people, for the people’ bouncing around inside our heads for a long time now, and as soon as we knew Ian and Viv from Lymestone were keen to get involved, we just had to get cracking,” he added. “We’re giving people the opportunity to choose the beer’s colour, strength, style, flavour and name. Even decisions such as label design will be made weekly via our website.”
Ian Bradford of Lymestone Brewery was just as keen to launch the project. “The brewing process can take up to 6 weeks and there are a number of key decisions to be made along the way to ensure the final product is true to the recipe,” he explained. “We produce a core range of beers and a number of seasonal specials, but the possible variations on a standard glass of beer are almost limitless and this is where we need customer input. Whether it’s a different combination of hops, the use of roasted barley or even the addition of honey and fruit to the brewing process, we need to plan the stages carefully before brewing can commence.”
Already the Pro-Am virtual brewery idea is inspiring new ideas about how beer can be produced and consumed. Some drinkers are even proposing a new model of retail, where they pay a brewer to produce their beer and a pub to ‘host’ the barrels. In this way, some believe that when they visit the pub, they are drinking their own property and could therefore be exempt from taxes.