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Arkell's Pioneer New Zealand IPA:  part of a strategy to focus more on smaller retail outlets instead of supermarkets


Arkell’s Brewery experiments with canned beer 

Swindon-based family brewer Arkell’s has canned its first beer since 2015.

Pioneer New Zealand IPA, developed last year in tribute to the family’s pioneering brewing operations in the Antipodes and normally only available on draught, went into cans for New Zealand Beer Month in February.

Alongside a move into 330ml bottles, “our first crafty-looking 330ml can” is part of a strategy to focus more on smaller retail outlets and less on supermarket sales of 500ml packs, explained head brewer Alex Arkell. 

There are no plans yet to can other beers. “Everything’s an opportunity but we’ll see how this one goes,” he explained.

“We love our bottles, it’s a fantastic package, and because we have our own bottling line we can have entire control of the process. So we won’t be moving away from glass any time soon. This was a bit of fun, really.”

Smaller format 330ml packaging is, however, helping Arkell’s open up different outlets for its beers, including farm shops, bottle shops and its own new brewery shop, Grape & Grain, as it reduces its dependence on low margin sales through major multiples.

The brewer experimented briefly with a canned lager in 2015, using a mobile canning unit. In contrast Pioneer was packaged at Broadstairs-based South East Bottling. Arkell's believes a static line gives the product more consistency and a longer shelf-life.

The IPA is brewed using two different types of New Zealand Hops, Taikeke and Moteuka, selected by Arkell personally on a trip there last year and brought back to Swindon.

The project was inspired by the son of founder John Arkell, also called John, who emigrated in 1863 and launched the White Star Brewery on South Island. He went on to open three more breweries in New Zealand, but none have survived.

Phil Mellows
4th March 2019

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