Young couple setting trend with their beer company
An entrepreneurial young couple have set up the first female-run non-alcoholic beer company in Wales, and, they say, the trend among their generation for more mindful social experiences, with less emphasis on heavy drinking, is fuelling their business success.
Joelle Drummond and Sarah McNena launched Drop Bear Beer Co just a month ago, In May, and they are already planning to upscale their operations. At the moment they run the business from a small office in the Mumbles, and from a 100 square foot unit at Storage Giant, a self-store facility in Llanelli Gate.
Sarah said: “I have got a home brewing background – We started making beer in our kitchen with a pile of books from Swansea Library and with a saucepan and jam thermometer. I am teetotal, and Joelle is more or less teetotal. We don't like hangovers and feel that sobriety benefits our physical and mental health greatly, but we do love the flavour of good beer. I am Australian and Joelle is Welsh, so beer is a big part of both our cultures, and we enjoy it! But our focus, as a beer company, is upon getting the flavours and ingredients right for people who love craft beer, rather than on the alcohol."
It is, she says, already proving to be a successful business model: “There has been a lot written about the rise of the micro-brewery trend. I think according to CAMRA figures, 890 jobs are expected to be created by small, independent brewers in 2019. And the market for quality low or no alcohol drinks suppliers like us is booming. We already supply a number of distributors, with our Tropical IPA and our Yuzu Pale Ale, including Dry Drinker and Zero Option, and we have a new beer out in the autumn. We will be upscaling, and looking to open our own alcohol free brewery in Wales further down the track, when the time is right.”
Joelle adds: “There are other considerations that young brands are taking on board, that chime with the interests and concerns of young people. For example, Both Sarah and I are very mindful of our impact upon the environment. This is something that we have integrated into the DNA of Drop Bear Beer Co We run an electric car and Drop Bear Beer Co office is powered 100 percent powered by renewable energy. I know Storage Giant integrates green policies too, wherever possible, with solar panels on some of its sites and with smart lighting systems.”
Sarah’s Aussie heritage is writ large in the beer’s branding, with Drop Bear being a figure from Australian folklore – a carnivorous, predatory koala. All of their beers are carefully crafted and inspired by their Aussie and Welsh experiences and cultures, making for interesting flavour palettes indeed.
Joelle adds: “It is well documented that Millennials are pulling back from the levels of drinking that many older people embraced – if I look back to my own late teenage years, it was common for people of my age to spend a day the park with a bottle of cider. I’m not condoning that, but it became part of our culture – a rite of passage. Many young people now spend their time differently and socialise in very different ways.”
This shifting of habits is borne out by the fact that the traditional pub market is becoming increasingly hard to sustain, with brewers and producers rooting out new markets – often via craft beer.
Joelle said: “One very important aspect of the Drop Bear Beer success so far is that the conditions are favourable to setting up business here in Wales. We have had start up help from a number of Wales-based organisations, and I know a number of neighbours in our Storage Giant unit who are running thriving businesses at very low cost, because places like this are readily available to entrepreneurs.”
Simon Williams, MD of Storage Giant said: “The swift success of the Drop Bear Beer Co is impressive and we are pleased to be a part of their story. We see many hundreds of enterprising people set up and grow their businesses under our roof – it is a part of our business that we are particularly proud of. Storage Giant began as a single-unit concern, just before the recession hit the UK, so we know how important it is that fledgling firms get the support they need in order to thrive. We look forward to toasting their continued success with a low alcohol beer.”