Leading community retailer, Co-op and the historic, family-run brewery, Robinsons, have come together to launch a brand new range of craft beers.
Co-op has launched three own label craft beers, in store today (13 March) and has used its Members to help influence the tasting descriptions on the beer labels and shelf edge labels.
Based in the heart of Stockport for almost two centuries, Robinsons is one of the oldest and most respected names in British brewing history and still remains a proud family-run independent brewer; now the legacy of the sixth generation of the Robinson family. Robinsons is also home to one of the most advanced and sophisticated breweries in the UK with a worldwide reputation for beer production.
The Co-op buying team worked closely with Robinsons Head Brewer, Martyn Weeks, to develop a broad spectrum of beer styles for Co-op customers to enjoy.
Martyn Weeks, Robinsons Head Brewer, said: “We were delighted when Co-op approached us to brew its first Member beers. It has been an incredibly collaborative project with a sharp focus on quality and what the customer wants. Led by well-aligned values and principles that still thrive today, it’s been the perfect partnership between two iconic businesses. Born within six years of each other in neighbouring counties in the North West of England, we have come together to brew great tasting beer for the people that matter, the customers.
“We've been brewing since 1838 and we’re serious when it comes to beer quality. With almost 180 years’ experience under our belts, we offered Co-op first class facilities, capable of brewing and packaging to the highest standards, coupled with a level of support, care and knowledge that you only get from a truly independent, family run business.”
The three beers below are launching in Co-op stores:
4.0% Golden Ale, 500ml
Colour - rich golden
Hops – Chinook (USA), Bramling Cross (UK), Goldings (UK)
“A smooth ale with a golden caramel complexion. The perfect beer for a summer garden.” Michael Gibbons, Co-op Member Luton
4.5% IPA, 500ml
Colour - rich amber
Hops – Goldings (UK), Cascade (USA), Bramling Cross (UK), Target (UK), Bobek (Slovenia)
“Good traditional IPA. Voluminous, good body and fruity hop.” Tom Packman, Co-op Member Essex
5.5% TRIPLE HOP, 330ml
Colour - pale golden
Hops- Cascade (USA), Golding (UK), Bramling cross (UK), Chinook (USA)
“A complex but contemporary blend of hops gives this beer a rich and rounded flavour with a subtle and smooth aftertaste.” Sam Dineley, Co-op Member, Bristol
The three beer styles chosen are each brewed with fresh spring water filtered down from the Peak District National Park which purifies as it filters down through the sandstone and collects in the well which sits underneath Robinsons Brewery.
Richard Dennett, Beer Buyer at Co-op said: “Beer sales are incremental to the BWS category at Co-op and in a space of 400+ products, we are continuously working on new and exciting ways to bring products to market.
“2016 was a big year for Co-op as we invested in building our local sourcing strategy for beer as we continue to champion British. Local craft beers were introduced to stores across the UK and a local ale and cider plan was implemented in West Country, East Anglia and Wales.”
Kate Flanagan, Export and Off Trade Sales Manager for Robinsons Brewery, said: “It’s very encouraging to see the increasing focus that retailers like Co-op have on locally sourced regional produce but also engaging their customers in the production process, or in this case the taste testing. Inviting customers to ‘have their say’ prior to the product being produced not only helps with real time customer feedback, which in turn informs the production process, but it also means that when the product is launched everyone owns it; not just the brand owner, which is extremely powerful and engaging.
“We’re delighted to be working with Co-op on its first Member beers and we can’t wait to see them available exclusively on Co-op shelves.”
As part of its re-launched Membership Proposition last year, Co-op introduced ways to give Members a greater say in the Co-op that they own. A series of opportunities have been running since then for Members to work together with their Co-op to create and develop the products and services that they value.
400 Co-op Members applied to take part within 30 minutes of the opportunity going live and 100 Members were selected on a first come first serve basis. The selected Members were sent a sample of the three beers and responded with their own tasting notes. Through an in-depth analysis of how the tasting notes compared to the beers, three were selected to be used on the bottle labels and shelf edge labels.
Mark Robinson-Field, Member Voice lead at Co-op said: “This ale project is just one of the ways in which Members are working with us to help develop great products and services. We believe the best people to talk about our products are our Members. The people who have tasted them.
“This is just one small step to bringing Members views and voice to our labels.”
With both Co-op and Robinsons being from North West communities, the labels have been designed to reflect their roots and feature hand drawn images of Robinsons Brewery, Deansgate bridge and the Salford Lads Club.
The new beers – Golden Ale 2,231 stores, IPA 1,726 stores, and Triple Hop 2,462 stores – will be available in Co-op nationwide w/c13th March.