Agriculture and Food

Brewery sets out on a new chapter in its journey to change the world

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 27 October 2020 6:30

How do you stand out and remain true to your core beliefs when those principals have become the clothes donned by scores of others for the sake of selling products? 

It is not a new problem, but Stroud Brewery knew it had to come up with something fresh to help itself stand out from a market place where everyone claims to be he very thing that once set it apart. 

We are talking about its green, organic, ethical with a community focus – words at risk of losing their impact as consumers become thick-skinned to the chatter of a sector which appears to have polarised. 

And so to the repositioning of Greg Pilley’s Stroud Brewery business.

“When Stroud Brewery came to us it was clear Greg’s vision was to open up a new ethical and sustainable beer category and encourage the rest of the beer brands into it. 

“This wasn’t about leadership in a market share sense it was about leading from the front, flying the flag and leading by example,said Jenny Patton, head of innovation at Stroud-based Level Design Studio, based in Stroud. 

“Through our research we began to understand that the organic message is polarising, people have already made up their mind. 

“We needed to go further, create a deeper connection between the consumer and the natural ingredients. 

“We changed the core message to ‘drink responsibly farmed beer’ and developed ‘change is brewing’ conversations to illustrate how a regenerative approach to people and planet equals better business and even better beer.”

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Mr Pilley, who founded his business in 2006 after working for the Soil Association as part of its local food team promoting community scale food projects, said: “We started with soil because if we continue to use non organic farming methods, our soils won’t be capable of feeding us in 60 years’ time - whereas by using organic methods, we work with nature to improve soils, sequester carbon, increase wildlife and produce ingredients as they should be i.e. without any harmful additions.” 

He added: You can apply the idea of regenerating vs degenerating to everything. 

“For example, you can value people rather than devalue them.

We’re a B Corp, working to make business a force for good and we’re a living wage employer with a considerate working culture and as a result we have a very happy and dedicated team.”  

Which goes some way towards helping explain the mindset at work both within the business and its marketing, but rather overlooks the all-important ingredient in the mix – the product. 

Ben Jennison-Phillips, head brewer, said: We place an extremely high value on our locally grown, organic and hand malted barley as the backbone of our beer; and with our extensive knowledge and relationships with organic hop producers we’ve become known for the characterful flavours and aromas we are able to produce.” 

The marketing has also included the redesign of its packing. 

Adam Hinks, creative director at Level, said: It is such a much-loved brand here in Stroud for its beer and its ethics. 

We knew we had to cut through an already saturated and noisy category, we needed to combat the greenwashing going on out there and develop an exciting, honest and credible visual identity that wasn’t your traditional ‘organic’ look and feel.

Stroud is every bit as ethical as the brewery, being the birthplace of many social and environmental movements, it was only right that we took creative inspiration from our local environment and positive yet activist culture.”   

Mr Pilley’s aim, with many of the bigger brewers beginning to use the same language to sell their product, is that Stroud Brewery can ensure the conversation also focuses on some of the detail around what it means to be green and about the methods of farming. 

“What’s great to see is all the sustainability conversation going on in the category - from planting trees, to carbon negativity, to overcoming food waste, it shows us there is a real appetite for change. 

Our job will be to convince our fellow beer brands that by investing in becoming organic we can take ‘sustainability’ in beer to a whole new level; in that we can sustain and regenerate the soils on which we depend for our ingredients, and guarantee to still be making great tasting beers in the decades to come.”

First published on October 26, 2020.

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