A passion for Super Premium beer

Operating as part of the leading Japanese brewery and soft drinks company, Asahi Breweries Ltd. and as a subsidiary of Asahi Europe Ltd, Asahi UK distributes several Super Premium beer brandsacross the UK and Ireland
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With a portfolio comprising some of Europe’s most recognisable premium beer brands, including Peroni Nastro Azzurro; its Belgian abbey beer St Stefanus; Pilsner Urquell; Kozel; as well as the Polish Lech and Tyskie brands, Asahi UK Ltd. is responsible for the continued development of these brands as well as the Super Premium Category growth concept across the UK and Ireland. Although the company has had a prominent position within the UK since 2005 and in Ireland since 2008, Asahi UK was established in its present form during October 2016, when the Tokyobased Asahi Breweries Ltd. company completed its £1.3 billion acquisition of Miller Brands UK. The acquisition of Miller Brands UK added the premium European beer brands Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime to the company’s portfolio and reinforces its mission to further develop the appreciation of quality beer brands throughout the UK and Irish beer markets.

“Our Super Premium brand portfolio is powered by a seamless distribution network, expert customer marketing and sales capability – this means we can extend and grow Asahi’s ambition in the UK,” says Asahi UK Managing Director, Gary Haigh while commenting on the acquisition. “Peroni Nastro Azzurro has been a key driver in the growth of the UK super premium sector which is now worth £1.3 billion and accounts for more than a quarter of the London beer market. With the backing of the Asahi Group we will be able to continue our strategies for the brands, building on their success and allowing our customers to benefit from meeting the demands of UK consumers for high quality beer brands.”

Asahi UK is considered to be unique in the UK brewing industry in that it exclusively sells authentic, imported products, which enables it deliver a portfolio that combines a continental drinking experience with true heritage and quality. The Peroni Nastro Azzurro brand for example, has changed the way consumers think about beer and is considered to be the best example of an innovation-led beer brand in the UK. Through the Peroni Nastro Azzurro brand Asahi has reinvented the consumer perception of what a beer can be, from its unique statement glass to the beer’s entire drinking persona and experience. By implementing an independent study amongst beer drinkers, the company has identified the five key areas that cause a consumer to perceive a brand as a super premium beer, comprising authenticity, taste, positive brand story, experience and visual identity. Across the Peroni Natsro Azzurro brand, its 250ml single ‘Piccola’ bottle is an apperitivo (‘before the meal’) beer and has proven to be very popular with female drinkers especially, while the 750ml ‘Alta’ sharing bottle has proven to be popular choice for evening sharing.

Tank beer
Elsewhere across the Asahi UK portfolio of beers, the company’s Pilsner Urquell brand has continued to grow as London beer lovers increasingly tap into its authentic tank beer brewing technique, with over 10,000 pints of fresh, unpasteurised tank beer being enjoyed at the 2016 ‘Taste of London’ festival in Regent’s Park. In the first week of December 2016, Pilsner Urquell opened its thirteenth tank beer outlet at Cooper Hall, Manchester with the venue making a main feature of the brewery fresh unpasteurised beer and housing four Pilsner Urquell tanks. The world renowned Czech beer is made using Saaz Hops, Moravian Barley, Pilsner H yeast and Plzen soft water and is delivered directly from Plzen every week in temperature-controlled trucks, ensuring that guests always experience the freshest tasting Pilsner Urquell.

The Pilsner Urquell brand has continued in this spirit of Asahi UK’s determination to innovate, through aiding the reinvigoration of pub culture within the UK by showcasing true brewing craftsmanship. The beer is delivered through the process of ‘Tankovna’, where Pilsner Urquell delivers unpasteurised beer directly from the brewery to the recipient tank bars. The brand is seeing new consumers enter into the category and use Tankovna venues as a destination for a quality and authentic drinking experience, with ten per cent of consumers entering a Tankovna venue because of the striking copper tanks. “Tank Beer is unique in its taste and quality and offers beer lovers the freshest beer possible,” explains Pilsner Urquell Master Brewer, Robert Lobovsky. “The tanks ensure that the beer is kept at the right temperature and in perfect condition until the time it is poured into the glass, ensuring the very best taste, quality and a fuller, rounder malt body.”

With the ongoing transition from Miller Brands UK to Asahi UK, the company is in the process of further defining its sustainable development strategy to ensure that its new organisation is asahi-121-cappropriate for both Asahi, its customers and the environment. While the details of the company’s future strategy are still in development, Asahi UK will always remain committed to social responsibility and business ethics in all areas of the company. The company believes that every business has a responsibility to understand and actupon its environmental impact and works towards sharing more information with its suppliers, customers and consumers about both the carbon footprint of its beers and how the business is a working to reduce it. Asahi UK highly values its place within the local community and works to ensure that it makes an effective contribution to the local area and the people living there. It is therefore examining how it can most deploy resources such as employee volunteers, mentors and fundraising to most effectively support this aspiration. Finally, Asahi UK is uncompromising in its integrity and the quality of the company’s Super Premium beers. This philosophy extends to its policies and codes of practice, which will continue to be world class.

Passion for beer
The current market environment within the beer sector is one of both considerable competition and tantalising opportunity. Although the market for beers has endured a period of decline during the past decade with as many as 15 pubs closing a week, the recent surge in the popularity in craft beers and an increase in the number of UK breweries by eight per cent to 1700 by October 2016 suggests a rising passion from consumers for premium beer products. Asahi UK shares this passion and takes great pride in its comprehensive portfolio of premium beers, which are produced using the finest ingredients. The company’s Peroni Nastro Azzurro beer for example, is brewed using Nostrano Dell’isola Italian maize creating a unique blend of three quarters barley and one quarter maize to give the beer its unique taste, while Pilsner Urquell uses the famous Saaz hop from the Zatec region of the Czech Republic, which is also known as the Noble Hops. Hops are responsible for the bitterness, aroma, foam and shelf life of a beer and Pilsner Urqell has double the amount of hops, giving it a fine hoppy aroma and a uniquely pleasing bitterness. During the coming years Asahi UK will seek to further develop its brewing experience, as well as capitalise on its acquisition of Miller Brands UK, while taking advantage of the growing appetite for Super Premium beer in both the pub and off trade environments.