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Note the dinosaur addition: T-Rex said to represent "originality with a nod to the past."

Butcombe rebrands, points up pioneering brewing heritage

Butcombe Brewery has introduced new branding across the business and rejigged its beer range to help drive forward its ambitious expansion plans.

Based on research among drinkers, the design stresses Butcombe’s ‘independent spirit’, picking up on its reputation as a microbrewing pioneer and giving it a humorous spin by incorporating a dinosaur in its core brand mark.

The Somerset-based company, which was founded in 1978, is the focus of investment by the new owner of its parent company, Liberation Group. It is aiming to grow its pub estate to 100 sites over the next three to five years and establish its name as the regional brewer for the West Country.

Brand marketing manager Emmy Webster, who has spent the last 10 months formulating the strategy, hopes the rebrand will appeal to a new audience – without alienating Butcombe’s existing loyal following.

“Our research project gave us a sense that Butcombe has become a staple part of people’s lives, and they pass that on to their friends and children. They also appreciate the quality and consistency which makes it easy to recommend.

“So the brand has always been relevant and to a large extent we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last 40 years. We can assure our customers nothing’s really going to change. We’re not going to alienate anyone. But we can make the brand more fun and help it appeal to a new audience.”

She said Butcombe had been encouraged by the rise of craft beer.

“The idea of ‘craft’ is pulling younger people and women especially into the beer market, and that’s opened up an opportunity for cask. But these people are more promiscuous drinkers so we need to give them more options.”

To that end, alongside Butcombe’s core range of cask beers – Original, Gold and the pale ale Rare Breed – the brewer now offers a range of products in 50-litre kegs.

Served from individually designed, free-standing fonts, Blonde (4.5% abv) and Bohemia Pilsner (4.7%) are new recipes specially designed to appeal to a younger market, while Goram ‘Avon Pale Ale’ (5%), named after a giant of Bristol legend, is a rebrand of Brunel Atlantic IPA with ‘added personality’.

While the growing managed estate will be the primary focus – “it’s our shop window,” said Webster – a new member of the wholesale team will help drive distribution further afield, and the beers will also have a presence in Punch Taverns, J D Wetherspoon and the Carlsberg UK portfolio.

Meanwhile, with rather less of a fanfare, Butcombe has launched The 78 Range, 10 seasonal ales inspired by events in the year of the brewery’s birth.

Beginning this month with Union, which marks 1978’s Winter of Discontent strike wave, they go on to commemorate Kate Bush’s debut hit Wuthering Heights, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the discovery of a moon orbiting Pluto, Brighton’s nudist beach, the launch of the Space Invaders video game, the year of three popes, the Sex Pistols’ final tour, Geoff Capes’ gold in the Olympic shot-put and ITV’s first Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show.

NOTES: While 39 years is a relatively short length of time in the brewing industry, it’s an impressive lifespan for a craft brewery. The choice of a dinosaur for a logo reflects, says Butcombe, "the bravery it took to start an independent brewery at a time when it was a real risk, way before craft brewing was a lifestyle statement."

Further, the Tyrannosaurus Rex represents "originality with a nod to the past, celebrating Butcombe's traditional brewing heritage".

Phil Mellows
22nd February 2017

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