Yeastie Boys overcomes challenging year

Yeastie Boys grew significantly in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia during 2017, despite facing some unexpected challenges, co-founder Stu McKinlay has revealed.

McKinlay said the year was disrupted when the company was forced to move beer production in both the UK and NZ.

“After setting up brewing in Australia, with Nomad Brewing of Manly in the last half of 2016, I had vowed to do everything I could to avoid moving or setting up with new breweries for a very long time,” he wrote in a January 14 blog post.

“Moving on from Brewdog, here in [the] UK, was thrust upon us rather unceremoniously way back in February.

“While we managed to eke out some sort of transition plan, and tried hard to make it virtually unnoticeable to our partners and customers, it turned into quite the clusterf*ck in late 2017.

“Unavailability was the key word in what should have been our best time of the year.

“Thankfully new beer is coming off the line at West Berkshire Brewery and we’re excited about the possibilities of the smaller batch sizes in 2018,” McKinlay said.

He said Yeastie Boys had also shifted NZ production to Urbanaut Brewing in Kingsland, after nine years at Invercargill Brewery.

“This brings our production much closer to the north island market that we mostly sell in and, importantly for our export partners, puts us a lot closer to the breweries with which our international shipments are consolidated,” he said.

“And it’s enabled us to kick off canning in New Zealand, with White Noise and Bigmouth being the first cabs off the rank.”

Sales goals achieved
McKinlay said Yeastie Boys did however manage to achieve its sales goals in 2017, when it grew UK volumes by 197 per cent, almost tripling its 2016 sales.

“We’re now selling 3.5x our NZ volume. Given our loose goal is sales parity per capita, which would be 14x the NZ volume, we still have a long way to go!” he said.

Yeastie Boys

Yeastie Boys’ Sam Possenniskie and Stu McKinlay at their new UK production facility, West Berkshire Brewing

“Around 80 per cent of our total volume from UK is sold domestically and we expect this percentage to grow, little by little, in the next couple of years.”

He said NZ sales grew by 21 per cent overall, with a 35 per cent jump in domestic sales.

“Export sales were level, which is particularly pleasing given we started brewing in Australia and effectively cut off one of our biggest export markets from NZ,” he said.

Early days for Australia
McKinlay said the Australian market is “brand new”, so there was no previous year to compare it to.

“[But] the sales there are completely incomparable to our old export sales – close to triple our best year,” he said.

“The main win here was a national off-trade contract from Bigmouth [Session IPA], which is being followed up by Digital [IPA] and White Noise [White Beer] in 2018. Big growth is on the way in the Western Isles.”

Bigmouth is available through Coles-owned stores Liquorland, First Choice Liquor and Vintage Cellars in Australia.

Packaged versus keg
McKinlay said packaged products completely dominate Yeastie Boys’ UK sales at 93 per cent of total volume.

“Australia is up around that mark too. In New Zealand there’s not such a heavy skew with 57% of volume packaged in the small format,” he said.

“We expect the UK volume to swing slightly back towards keg in 2018 but, with a large amount of small pack sales already lined up, it’s unlikely be a huge move.”

You can read the full blog post here.

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