End of Year Round-up 2021

In pre-covid years our end of year blog would reflect on all things that have happened in the industry and review how accurate we were with our predictions for the year. We didn't make a prediction last year and likewise who knows what 2022 has in store. 2021 proved almost as challenging as 2020, however for different reasons. 2020 was all about following the various restrictions and riding the waves and just making sure things just got done, however ironically the pandemic has raised our profile and the Beer Club has become our main business product. So much so that we are reassessing our delivery routes in order to meet demand.


We always seek to be innovative and set ourselves apart, yes there are other monthly subscriptions about, however ours is the only themed fully Welsh and flexible subscription available. We added an enhancement with the Gold option and as a new twist for 2022 we already have plans for "Guest beers" and "Wales Ales on the road", however our ethos remains squarely on supporting small Welsh breweries, that's what we're about.


One good thing about restrictions being lifted was that we could spread our wings and start stocking beers from further afield again. We make no secret of our fondness or Pollys, in fact we stock so many of theirs that we launched a 12 Pollys beer pack, usually our tasting packs offer a range of 4-6 beers from a brewery. This has proved so popular that we will aim to offer the 12 pack permanently. Alongside Pollys we've tested the water with Hafod, Cwrw Ial and Bragdy Mona who were so well received they have joined our permanent range alongside other North Wales Breweries like Wild Horse and Purple Moose. Other new breweries we are now stocking include Anglo-Oregon that have the honour of being the first Beer Club 'Brewery of the month' featuring their entire range. Sadly we've had to say goodbye to a few breweries who have decided to call it a day in 2021, most notably for us was Rail Mill Brewery who were proving Welsh breweries can make Belgium styled beers and make them very well.





We've also revisited the Grow your own Beer packs after a customer showed us their success from the first batch of seeds we did a couple of years ago. Keeping with our ethos we've sourced hop seeds from a Welsh based garden centre. We'll be putting much more focus on this after the success of the Christmas period.


We rounded off the year with our Legendary 12 Beers of Christmas packs which together with our 24 beer advent calendar sold out in record time. One of the highlights was out latest collaboration with Dog's Window, What Santa Wants, a milk and cookies stout. Feedback has been so good that a new batch is already underway. This will form part of a permanent core range of collaboration beers. We tend to make a homebrew first then approach a brewer, we get involved throughout the whole process from brewing to design. Our collaboration with Dog's Window - Goodboy has always been popular so we will always have that on sale, likewise Baie Lekker our Modern Brown Ale with Tomos & Lilford will get a slight tweak (more donuts!). I have already made plans for 2 more with 2 different breweries to complement the range.


Five collaborations beers to mark our 5th year which seems to have whizzed by. We are proud of how the business has grown from a stall at the Porthcawl Christmas Market to being the longest established hand delivered Welsh beer delivery service, crowned off with being awarded The Specialist Alcohol Retailer of the Year (Wales) 2021.



What do we think 2022 will bring the industry? It will be a slow start with the new restrictions no doubt, but we fully support the Tryanuary Campaign which is a national campaign during January to encourage people to visit the pubs and try something new. As Welsh regional co-ordinators we'll be supporting local pubs as much as possible. As for trends, we feel some old styles might be revisited, we revisited Brown Ale with our collaboration with Tomos & Lilford and Black IPAs have shown an upsurge in popularity of late.


So we'll finish by saying a big hearted thank you. You are amazing and we really appreciate you buying from us, recommending or just simply following us. We have big plans for 2022, but like the rest of us we'd be happy with a healthly and normal year.


Neil

Wales Ales Co