Not all aging is bad. 175 year old family brewery – ROBINSONS – has proved it still has what it takes when it comes to brewing excellence after being named ‘BEER CHAMPION’ 2013 at this year’s BBPA awards; fighting off fierce competition from the likes of Marstons, Thwaites and Molson Coors.
Held at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, the annual British Beer and Pub Association awards dinner – presented by John Sargeant – recognise exceptional company and individual contributions to the brewing and pub sectors.
The BBPA judges observed that Robinsons “had something that all the judges were incredibly impressed by – a true dedication to beer and brewing.”
With significant investment in their brewing operations, including the additions of a brand new cereal cooker, energy recovery system (saves 30%) and a “Hopnik” (a kind of giant tea strainer that draws out a lot of the good flavours of hops leaves that would otherwise be cooked out), accompanied by a £2million visitor and educational centre, not to mention the launch of several innovative ales, the Robinsons family, now operated by the 6th generation, are undeniably devoted to their future and the future of British brewing.
Celebrating their 175th birthday, 2013 has been a ground breaking year for the family run brewery based in Stockport. Heralding a new era for the historic site, Robinsons have challenged the industry and attracted new customers to cask ale from all corners of the globe.
Within weeks of opening the doors to a pristine Brew House and Visitors Centre, Robinsons’ launched 3 nifty new beers, specially designed for the first time ever to go with food (chicken, steak and curry) in partnership with Celebrity Chef Simon Rimmer. Essentially a beginner’s guide to beer and food matching, the range (fought over by major supermarket chains for exclusivity when first launched) have opened up the beer category to a new group of consumers who may have typically drunk something different with their meal.
BBPA judges agreed that “Frederic Robinsons’ desire to attract new customers to beer, with brews designed for food matching” had helped the historic brewer break new ground in 2013.
However, the real game changer came in the form of a 4.8% ABV deep golden ale (oh, and Iron Maiden’s octave-leaping front-man, Bruce Dickinson!).
Since the launch in May 2013, TROOPER has marched its way into major pub chains and wholesalers throughout the UK. The deep golden ale, brewed and designed jointly with Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden and lover of real ale, has been the catalyst to increasing the global exposure of Robinsons with countries like South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and Chile now importing Robinsons’ beers for the first time.
Boasting real depth of character, this premium British beer – with citric notes from a unique blend of Bobec, Goldings and Cascade hops, dominating malt flavours and a subtle hint of lemon – has exceeded expectations becoming the fastest selling ale by Robinsons’ and one of (if not THE) most successful new beer of 2013.
Given that the beer was only launched in the UK five months, and only made available to the USA and most other countries less than two months ago, over two million pints of TROOPER have been sold globally (one million of which have been exported outside of the UK).
Ruth Evans MBE, CEO of Brewing, Food & Beverage Industry Suppliers' Association (BFBI), Director of Brewing Technology Services Limited, and organiser of the oldest international brewing awards in the world, agrees that TROOPER is providing a great profile for British beer all around the world:
“It is great to see such a successful launch of a British beer with the Internationally famous British band Iron Maiden into the export arena. With distribution into 30 countries in 8 weeks and over 1 million bottles sold overseas in the same period, we are confident that Trooper is the most successful launch of an English Ale in recent years and will be sure to help raise the overall profile of British beers in export.”
With its focus firmly on taste and easy-drinking, TROOPER not only appeals to Iron Maiden’s legendary loyal fan-base, it is attracting new customers to the beer category who are now trying cask ale for the very first time. Keith Bott, SIBA Chairman, believes TROOPER is strengthening the British brewing industry in these times of austerity and is one to watch for future world beer competitions:
"There's no doubt that a beer like Trooper with Robinsons is great for British beer exports generally. There have been 1 millions pints sold abroad to date and the way things are going this will multiply. Because the beer is directed at Iron Maiden fans worldwide it stands to reason that we have a fair proportion trying British beers for the first time and, if they like what they taste, then that can only be good for other British brewers. In recent years new world craft beers have done increasingly well in world beer competitions and this is the sort of beer that can fight back.”
Despite initial reservations about brewing a traditional English ale with the face of a blood-spitting skeleton called “Eddie” on the front of every beer bottle and pump clip, Cheshire family brewers Robinsons have demonstrated how to stand out from the crow in an authentic and innovative way.
Commenting on the award, Oliver Robinson – Managing Director (Beer Division) of Robinsons Brewery – said: “We are extremely honoured to be named ‘Beer Champion’ by the British Beer and Pub Association. Knowing and understanding our customer and being prepared to change when the market and our customers requires us to do so has been a big factor in our success over the last couple of years. We hope to continue this consumer education in beer whilst maintaining our core business and family values.”
In Closing, the BBPA judges remarked: “For their efforts to invest, educate and change perceptions, they are worthy winners.”
A new Brew House and Visitors Centre, coupled together with beer innovation, 175 years brewing heritage, plus the recent announcement of the launch of Robinsons’ Hospitality Apprenticeship Scheme in association with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Charnwood Training, it’s clear that the future is very bright for the Robinsons family.