Growing fast with a fresh rebrand
Saturday 20 November 2021
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Fourpure has been a staple of the London craft scene, and specifically the Bermondsey Beer Mile, since it was founded in 2013. As the name hints, its philosophy has always centred around straightforward beers, sold in a way that’s easily understood and accessible to all. This message of transparency and accessibility has become even more central since Fourpure was acquired by international drinks group Lion in 2018; a move which has since seen it significantly grow its Bermondsey base and undergo a bold rebrand.
“Since the brewery’s acquisition by Lion, we’ve obviously been growing at quite a pace, with a lot of investment into Bermondsey,” says marketing director Niamh Farrell. “For example, our canning and kegging line which is really top class, and the estate itself has expanded in terms of overall space. That’s put the brewery in the best possible position for the future. So we’re not only producing Fourpure here; we also brew Voodoo Ranger hazy IPA and Little Creatures Pale Ale as well.”
Despite now being part of a global family of breweries, Fourpure still sees itself as a firm part of the Bermondsey neighbourhood, and is happy to use its expertise to benefit the craft beer community. For example, it is able to regularly support smaller breweries with contract brewing and packaging, and intends to help raise the international profile of the entire area.
“We’re very proud of where we are from, in fact we put it on the can,” continues Niamh. “So there has been a huge amount of investment in the brewery and now it’s time for us to think about how we can use that to benefit the wider community as well. We have this great space and we employ a lot of people from the local area, and actually a big focus for next year is to emphasise the provenance from being on the Bermondsey beer mile.”
Brand manager Michael Birtwistle chips in: “I think that’s just the nature of how the beer industry has always worked. It’s not super competitive in the way that other industries are, and you never talk down about other beer brands. People who work in beer often stay in beer, just moving between different breweries, and that creates a kind of camaraderie that I think we all feel. So now Fourpure has that backing from Lion, and with Covid only just behind us, of course we’ll be looking at how we can use our position to help our friends.”
The big news of the past 12 months has been Fourpure’s radically simple rebranding, in which it adopted a bold, typographic design for its beers, clearly pitched to stand out from the crowd on the shelf. The underlying brand message – which raised as many heckles in the craft bubble as the aesthetic itself – was that beer had become too pretentious and elitist. Niamh argues that there is a natural progression in every drinker's beer journey, and that Fourpure focuses on creating quality beers that are accessible to all, regardless of where on that journey they find themselves.
“The rebrand is all about really focusing on Fourpure’s core values,” she says. “The name itself harks back to the four ingredients that make beer, so we’re keeping it really simple and trying to demystify it a little bit for consumers. We still use the very best quality ingredients, but there’s a whole group of consumers out there who might be new to craft and are interested. Maybe they’re currently buying premium lagers and kind of dipping their toe in for the first time. And it can be quite daunting.
“But as well as reaching out to those consumers, we’re also giving people at the more ‘craft’ end the reassurance that the quality is still there. John, our Master Brewer who’s been with us since day one, is still heading up the team. And they’re all the same recipes, the same great ingredients; if anything, it’s the quality that’s improved over the years.”
If the over-arching idea of the brand is, as Niamh puts it, that “beer is meant to be fun” then it definitely seems to be informing other areas of Fourpure’s activity. Niamh is particularly excited to tell us about a project she’s been working on with brand manager Michael, dubbed the Stand Up for Beer Campaign. Starting with an online competition for drinkers to share their best one-liners, the campaign moved on to a circuit of stand-up comedy nights around venues in London and the South East, culminating at the end of summer with a gig at Fourpure’s Bermondsey taproom, featuring a headline set from Zoe Lyons.
It’s the kind of activity the brewery is keen to repeat as more people venture back out, as Michael explains: “I think lockdown gave everyone a chance to re-evaluate where the pub fits in their lives. A lot of people saved money by not going to the pub on a Thursday and Friday night, and found other ways to be sociable. Then there was that rush to get back to the pub when they first opened because of the novelty element, but that tapered off again. What people need now is that kind of elevated experience, where they go to a quiz night or a comedy night, or live music; basically, whatever breweries can do to give pubs a little bit more support than just beer and bar mats.”
“So, as much as we have national and international ambitions, we have plenty of room to grow in and around London, and we want to find creative new ways of building the brand around our local area. That starts with the pubs and bottleshops, and by being an active and positive part of this great community.”
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