Hop Stuff Brewery: UK craft beer market is both crowded and still in its infancy

29 March 2017

Hop Stuff Brewery started with one man and his dog. Four years later, a 22-strong team of beer lovers produce more than 400 kegs a week in the heart of Royal Arsenal, London.

Thanks to a new canning line, capable of producing 25,000 cans a day, the crowfunding success story is well and truly up and running. The new brewery will be capable of pumping out close to 1,000 kegs a week. '

Finally we can have sufficient stock to focus on rolling out Hop Stuff beers across London and the UK both in the on and off-trade,' brewery founder James Yeomans told Imbibe.

'The UK craft beer market is both crowded, and still in its infancy,' Yeomans says. 'There are a lot of brewers out there and the innovation in the market is happening at such a quick pace. New ideas and processes are pioneered all of the time, leading to the production of better quality beers than ever before.'

As part of its 2017 expansion plan, Hop Stuff will be working closely with key on-trade partners to promote its core session beers like the Four Hour Session and Unfiltered Pilsner.

'The UK on-trade is the cornerstone of our business,' Yeomans said. 'It's a hugely important space for us. We love after work drinks, summer beer gardens and warm winter pubs.

'The UK off-trade is a space we've never really played in, primarily due to stock constraints and challenges maintaining a core keg and cask range,' he adds. 'The luxury we have in the new brewery is space and capacity.'

At the core of the range you need beers that people can just enjoy with mates, without pretense or egotism, James Yeomans

The independent brewery, born in the Royal Arsenal, would not have been able to expand without crowdfunding support.  'Crowdfunding acted as validation for us in a shared vision for the UK craft market,' Yeomans says. 'Unfortunately, for those outside the bubble of craft it can seem like a daunting and exclusive club. At Hop Stuff we aim to open up craft beer to the wider market, promoting education, approachability and reliability.

'I think the success of the crowdfunding campaign was based on a shared belief for the future of London and UK craft beer. Opening the market up to the some 90% of beer drinkers that are yet to really appreciate how amazing craft beer is.'

But the founder is aware of the fickle nature of the market and its place within it. 'Of course we're sensitive to the market,' he says. 'And we love to see new innovation coming through. We hope to be able to do more ourselves than ever before once the new brewhouse is fully live – and yet at the core of the range you need beers that people can just enjoy with mates, without pretense or egotism. That's why people backed Hop Stuff.'

I think you will see some closures, primarily owing to wrong motivations for starting a brewery, Yeomans

The brewery has made the move into cans, and it’s proved a profitable venture as 12,000 cans were recently ordered by beer discovery box, Beer 52.

'12,000 cans are just the start,' he says. 'As people learn about our fresh approach to craft, and the awesome team in the brewhouse really get running, hopefully you'll be seeing the new cans up and down the UK and further afield'.

Where there is success, there will also be failure, though. 'I think you will see some closures, primarily owing to wrong motivations for starting a brewery,' he says. 'That said, I think we're in the really early stages of the UK craft beer market.'

Yeomans says some 90% of Brits are yet to try craft. 'And once you've tried a great craft product it's unlikely you're going to switch back to a macro lager,' he adds.

'That is a huge consumer base as yet untouched by craft. If you look to the US or Australasia craft beer has gone from 2-3% through to around 20% of the market. I think it's highly likely the UK market will do the same in the near future. It's beers like the Unfiltered Pilsner and Four Hour Session that offer people a gateway into craft that will be pioneering in the expansion of UK craft beer. The future is very bright for Hop Stuff and UK craft beer.'

Hop Stuff's new range of canned beers which will be available from 10 April.

Related content

News |  Beer & Cider

Hop Stuff doubles fundraising target

Hop Stuff Brewery knows how to crowdfund.

News |  Beer & Cider

Lagunitas’ Grant Caunter: Where’s the craft beer market going?

Where is the craft beer market is going? Adrian Tierney-Jones talks beer styles, low abv and new trends with Lagunitas' Grant Caunter.

News |  Beer & Cider

US-based Graft Cider to shake up UK market with craft beer-inspired sour ciders

As Graft Cider launches into the UK with a six-month exclusive listing at Mitchells & Butlers, Miranda Fitzgerald caught up with co-founder Kyle Sherr

News |  Beer & Cider

Brooklyn Brewery adds alcohol-free beer to its UK portfolio

Carlsberg UK-distributed Brooklyn Brewery is in full swing.