Tied landlords neglect the chance to sell more craft beers

Tied landlords are being encouraged to exploit opportunities to widen the range of beers they sell by making use of the SIBA BeerFlex scheme according to independent brewers and their trade association, SIBA.

The SIBA-rub scheme enables tied landords to access the fast-growing varieties of craft beers arising from a sharp growth in independent brewers across the UK. However, independent brewers and the independent brewers’ association, SIBA, suggest many landlords at tied inns and pubs are not aware of the opportunity the scheme presents.

Cliff Murphy who established Bexley Brewery with his wife Jane in 2014 tells Innkeeper magazine: “Some tied pub landlords are pulling their hair out because it is their perception that it is up to the pub company to put something on their list that they can order from, when that’s not true.”

He says: “Under the scheme they don’t order from us, the brewer, but from SIBA’s list of independent brewers within a 40-mile radius. The pub companies like it because there is no cash handling and they can keep a track on what is going on, and the inn and pub landlords can get in a much wider range of beer from brewers that are members of SIBA.”

Any independent brewer wishing to feature on the SIBA BeerFlex scheme must first pay to undergo a thorough audit by an independent external beer expert to certify the level of quality in the participating beers, providing a high level of quality assurance to the pubs. “It is an effective way of widening their choice and range of beers and appealing to a broader range of customers,” says Murphy.

BeerFlex supercedes the Direct Delivery Service (DDS), which was introduced in 2002. SIBA spokesman Neil Walker told Innkeeper magazine: “Before BeerFlex, tied landlords had to buy their beer from the pub company that owns the property – they could not go direct to another brewery. It meant the tied pub market was largely closed off to independent brewers. The main reason was pub companies did not want to have to deal with hundreds of invoices from hundreds of different breweries.

“Beerflex acts as a middleman between brewers and the publican, enabling them to order from perhaps 20 or 30 independent breweries within a 40 mile radius. The pub chooses the beers and receives them almost straight away, while we pay the brewer and we invoice the pub company. It might take us a couple of months to get the payment back, which for a small brewer would be a major issue,” he explains.

The range of beers inns and pubs can now order through Beerflex and SIBA is vast and means a tied pub can react to a local market by stocking the type of craft beers customers are seeking out, he says.

“If brewers or inns have any questions regarding their beer offering SIBA is always happy to speak about how they can improve their business – contact riponoffice@siba.co.uk,” he concludes.