We’re clearly very proud of our new Hofmeister Helles lager, but it is also great to hear the difference it is making to pub owners and landlords around the country and their customers. In the first of a new series of case studies we talk to Simon Craig of the Lighthouse Bar in Margate, Kent about why he took the beer on and how it is going down with both his regulars and visitors to this popular seaside town.
Simon Craig was one of the first publicans to take Hofmeister on as a draught beer in both his Lighthouse Bar, right next to the harbour in Margate, Kent and at Milo’s on the piazza opposite. Here he explains why he took on the brand and how it has become his best selling premium lager.
Do you remember Hofmeister from the first time round?
Yes I do, but back then it was a pretty horrible tasting beer. The new Hofmeister is completely different.
What did you think when you heard about the revitalised Hofmeister?
Well, I have been keen for some time to bring in different lagers to my outlets that no-one else. I first started out with Peroni a few years ago when it was not that well known, but soon everyone jumped on it and I took it out and replaced it with Krombacher. But again that has started to appear in more places nearby. So I was first of all interested in trying a new and different lager which is what I did when Richard (co-founder, Richard Longhurst) first came in with Hofmeister.
I must admit I was not sure about the brand initially because I remember it from before, but when I tasted it, I loved it.
What specifically made you want to give it a go in your business?
really liked the beer and thought it would work well with my customers, so I asked Hofmeister if I could have exclusivity for draught on Margate sea front for the next two summer seasons. Which they have agreed to. That’s been really important. It has gone on to work very well for us and outsells Krombacher and San Miguel completely.
How do you feel Hofmeister tastes compared to other premium imported lagers?
Very well. It has that lovely, distinctive refreshing, light taste.
Is the fact the new Hofmeister is a Bavarian Helles Lager help bring some new innovation to the lager offer?
Yes, I do. People may not know what a Helles lager is, so I will allow people to have a little taste. When they do, they usually go on and order it.
What has been the response of your customers?
It has had a great reaction ever since I put it on in the summer. It’s been outselling everything else. People just love the branding. We get quite a mixed group of customers. We have our locals, but as the Lighthouse bar is right on Margate harbour we also attract a fair few tourists and it goes down well with all of them, across all demographics.
If people know it from before they normally don’t remember it as a quality beer, but I just say it’s nothing like it was before and give them a taste. And then the response is very good.
Do you use the Hofmeister glasses and point of sale? If so, what do you think of it?
I think the branding is excellent. The yellow and black really stands out. I use Hofmeister umbrellas outside the Lighthouse bar and you can see them from across the harbour. I don’t put all the point of sale out, but it does really work very well visually. It’s also good that it is completely different to how it was before. There is no more George the bear for a start and the bear is no longer tied up.
Does it work best for you by bottle or by draught?
I sell it by draught in both my outlets by the harbour and then by bottle in my third outlet, which is a gin bar, CCs, in Westgate.