Private-label beer on the rise after AIBA win and investment

Private-label beer brands are going from strength to strength after a major AIBA award win for Coles Liquor’s Tinnies, and investment by Endeavour Drinks in a new range of craft beers.

The major supermarket chains, which currently also control the vast majority of bottleshops in Australia, have been investing in private-label craft beer since the early days of modern craft.

Now, Endeavour Drinks, owner of the BWS and Dan Murphy’s bottleshop chains, has invested further, adding more private-label craft beer brands to its portfolio on the back of major growth in the category.

Associate Professor Jana Bowden at Macquarie University said that the investment in private-label beer was a significant move by retailers into one of the only sections of the beer market that is consistently growing, at the same time allowing them to take a bigger slice of the profits.

“Players like Endeavour Drinks are jumping on the wave of consumer demand for new flavours and tastes and they’re delivering – they are expanding into the only part of the beer market that is currently growing [and] it’s the fastest-growing segment of the beer market,” she told Brews News last year.

“Craft is on the increase, [mainstream] lager is on the decrease and the opportunity is ripe for the taking to fill that gap in the shelves with their own product and take market share.”

According to the Woolworths-owned company, total craft beer has grown 28 per cent across both retailers over the last 52 weeks compared to the same period last year. This includes both independent and private-label brands.

Its seven new beer brands, under new and existing private labels, include the Sail & Anchor Golden Ale, named after the Fremantle pub the Sail & Anchor which Endeavour said was the “launch-pad of the Australian craft brewing scene” as well as an East Coast IPA and a West Coast IPA under its Colossal Brewing brand.

Endeavour Drinks has also added a Zytho Brewing stout, its Algorithm Pale Ale, and two new IPAs, one under its Initial Brewing brand and the other dubbed Gogo Fish Evolutionary. These brands are brewed mainly by Tribe, with the latter brewed under contract with Good Drinks.

“Our customers are telling us that they are looking for locally produced products and this trend has been accelerated by COVID which has made people feel they want to be more connected to their local community,” Endeavour told Brews News.

“By increasing our range of local craft and partnering with local craft breweries to brew our Endeavour-owned brands, we are able to provide customers with more locally brewed craft beers, tell more local stories and support more local breweries and creative agencies – these brands are also designed by local creative agencies’ braincells.”

The news comes after Tinnies Ultra-Low Alcohol Hoppy Ale was crowned the ‘Best Non-Alcohol Beer’ at the Australian International Beer Awards last month.

Coles said it was crafted differently from most low or zero alcohol beers from major brewers which have alcohol removed by filtration.

Like many craft brewers, the supermarket-owned brand is reportedly brewed using a specially-selected yeast with careful temperature control so the fermentation process naturally produces almost no alcohol.

Additionally, Coles Liquor took home seven medals for both its Tinnies and Smithy’s branded beers, including a gold for its Tinnies Pacific Ale.

The Tinnies range has been so successful that Coles has invested in a full rebrand of its range with “on-trend minimalist packaging design reflecting Tonnies’ crafty taste and nostalgic Aussie feel”.

Coles Liquor has added 100 new craft beer lines to shelves in the past year, with sales in the category growing almost 20 per cent, which the company said was part of a shift towards “quality over quantity”.

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