It is not without some trepidation that we took the decision to bring back such an iconic beer brand as Hofmeister. Yes, on the one hand in its heyday of the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was a top five UK beer brand. Yet, it was also quickly put in to hibernation by its owners at the time, Scottish & Newcastle, in 2003 and would not, let’s be honest, have won too many awards for its quality back in its pomp.
So to bring it back and make it relevant for today’s beer drinker, it has to be able to offer them something new, different and exciting. Not easy in a market that has seen a boom in craft and premium imported beers.
Opening up a new category
Well, we believe we are opening the door for the premium beer drinker in to a category they don’t really know or have had the chance to discover before.The market for authentic, premium-brewed Bavarian lager.
But not just a standard lager. A Helles lager. The slow brewed style of beer that is enjoyed by the millions that flock to Oktoberfest in Munich every year.
That’s where the Hofmeister connection really comes in to its own. For it was from the forests of Bavaria that George, the famous bear from Hofmeister’s iconic original eighties’ advertising, was said to have come from.
So it it was to Bavaria, home of German brewing, that we went to find the right style of beer, and the brewery that could help give the new Hofmeister an identity and personality of its own.
It was there that we really got to discover and understand Helles lager and why it is such a part of Bavarian life. Helles literally means pale beer and was first introduced to the area in 1895, under the label of Helles Lagerbier. It became Munich’s first blond lager.
It was immediately popular because it is slow brewed to give it a more refreshing, lower carbonated, easy drinking, cleaner, style of beer.
Our Hofmeister beer is made in small batches, and is a slow brewed, 5 per cent abv, lower carbonation Helles lager made by a fourth generation family-owned German brewery, Schweiger, located on the edge of Ebersberger Forest in Bavaria. One of only four out of 600 Bavarian breweries to be Slow-Brewed Accredited.
Vitally, it is made according to 1516 Reinheitsgebot German Beer Purity Laws that states only three ingredients can be used to make the beer. Which in Hofmeister’s case means using three local ingredients:
- Fresh natural mineral water direct from the natural spring underneath the brewery
- Local barley from its own malthouse and grown from nearby farmers
- Local Hallertau hops.
Pay more for better
Bringing a Bavarian Helles lager to the market will, we believe, appeal to the growing proportion of beer drinkers that are looking to pay more for what they see as crafted beers with provenance and a superior taste.
The modern craft beer drinker is willing to trial and give new beers a go. But how often do they go back to that beer? Too often these new beers can be seen as too different or challenging to sustain repeat purchases.
We believe many drinkers are looking to find new authentic beers that they can trust. Brands that have the right craft credentials, are authentic and have provenance. The new Bavarian Helles-style Hofmeister lager offers all of those things.
It is also premium priced, with bottles retailing at around £3.50 to £5 at the higher end and a pint of kegged Hofmeister beer around £5.
Whilst the biggest group of beer drinkers are in the younger age groups, between 18-40, disposable incomes are higher in older age groups.
So given Hofmeister’s high profile in the 1980 and 1990s it makes sense to initially target the older age group, who will have their own personal memories of the brand, and then challenge, and hopefully excite them with this new Bavarian Helles lager.
That said we are also seeing enormous interest from younger drinkers who are discovering Hofmeister, and more importantly authentic Helles Bavarian lager, for the first time.
It’s really a style of beer that’s so different to what we’re used to, that you have to taste it to really understand it. Which is exactly what we are looking to do by taking part in trade shows and consumer food drink events and hopefully bringing Bavarian Helles lager to the masses.