Andrew's Inaugural Blog
* We’re seven years old, having opened in Canterbury on 23rd November 2010.
* We officially turned on the cooling to our 6,000 sq ft warehouse on the 17th November to store all our beer below 6 degrees.
* We’ve got a party at our Bermondsey bar on Saturday 18th November for all those who invested £1000+ in our Crowdcube campaign.
* I’m in North Carolina speaking at their Brewers Association conference about export & travelling around to meet some awesome breweries that we plan to bring over to the UK in 2018.
* Oh, and as you can see, our long-delayed e-commerce store is ready which feels quite exciting.
A question I get asked a lot when I talk about the last seven years is ‘did you ever expect the business to end up like this?’ and it’s always hard to answer. The simple answer is ‘no’ but I always knew we were going to end up somewhere that didn’t have me standing in front of two bookcases of beer in Canterbury in 2017. One of the defining things that’s allowed us to grow is a belief in better – but even this has been redefined recently. We used to be ‘The home of good beer’ but in today’s world, ‘good’ didn’t seem good enough so we now say we deal in ‘#WorldClass beer’. Beer that you could take anywhere in the world and people would taste it and go ‘wow’. It feels like an appropriate level to aim for.
The use of hashtags in our day-to-day copy is something we’re now committed to. It’s not to be trendy or to lower our conversations to Twitter based levels – but to begin to use language that we feel is appropriate to our beliefs and aspirations. We’ve got three main hashtags:
#WorldClass is something that we aspire to across all aspects of the business – our bars, our customer service and our beer. It guides everything we do as we want to be the best we can be and have our standards set by being the best in the world.
#ColdChain is a belief in preserving the quality of beer through refrigerated distribution. There isn’t a beer on the planet that won’t benefit from being kept cold – and for some, and these are the ones we really want to work with, it’s essential.
#4KBeer comes from our Crowdcube campaign whereby I was trying to get people to understand what true freshness means. Many of us remember seeing people playing football on an old standard definition 4:3 CRT television (the big ones) and you could clearly see people running around and kicking balls. Then HD came along and we all went ‘WOW’ – and the old picture (that we were perfectly happy with) now looked really bad. Then 4K came along and our quality aspirations shifted again. Many people have never tasted #4KBeer because by the time it’s got to them, the detail has been lost due to it being older and not kept cold. However, the drinker may not know this loss has occurred and will be happy drinking beer that’s now HD or SD standards. The magic is when you give them an uncompromised, fresh bottle of that beer and they can appreciate all the detail they never knew was there – just like seeing your favourite film in 4K for the first time. So much of the beer we import from the US is brewed to 4K standards and we want everyone to enjoy it without any loss of quality – which is why we’re putting beer into planes and giving people the chance to taste it when it’s only days old. All of our boat-beer is kept under six degrees from brewery to bar via shipping containers and will only be a few weeks old – which allows us to consider ourselves the 51st state as the beer we import is as fresh as it is in America. It’s been amazing to see the faces of people who never knew this level of quality existed when drinking super-fresh beer in our bars.
A quick word on the planes … a few people have brought up the question of how ethical it is to fly beer into the UK – and it’s a good one. It turns out that every commercial jet has tonnes of cargo on board and the main revenue generator for the airlines is first/business class travel and freight. Without these, the economics of flying those planes wouldn’t work. So, it’s fair to say that we’re helping keep your air-fares down and the planes flying by using them to bring beer over. We don’t use dedicated cargo planes and feel pretty comfortable that it’s worth the effort given the #WorldClass pedigree of these beers.
For those who think we’re all about the imports – the fact is that 60% of our business is with UK brewed beer. We’re hugely excited to be able to offer domestic brewers the chance to have their beer distributed in our #ColdChain. How can any UK brewer compete with an American brewery when they know their beer is going to be stored in an ambient environment all its life and the American brewer is creating beer that’s going to be refrigerated? It’s never been an even playing field – but we can now change that. We genuinely hope that our British brewers will begin to brew beer knowing we can look after it … enabling them to be more outrageous and pursue a greater dedication to quality than they ever dared to. We’ve got some really exciting plans, that we’ll reveal soon, which will revolutionise the idea of freshness when it comes to British brewed beer. 2018 is going to be an awesome year to drink #WorldClass beer in the UK.
Watch this space to read more blogs from the BottleShop team and follow us on social media to see what’s happening at a BottleShop near you. Best of all, you can now buy some beer online. We hope you like the new site and our new online home.
Founder & MD: The BottleShop