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Greene King goes for Gold with new IPA promotion

Added: Friday, March 23rd 2012

john bexon

Suffolk brewer Greene King is launching two new cask versions of its best-selling IPA as part of a £4 million promotion that will see the main version of the beer advertised on Sky Sports, Sky News, Dave and Film 4. The ads will appear during the FA Cup semi-final on 14 April and will also be shown on ITV1 and ESPN the following day.

Filming took place in a North London pub, the Hornsey Tavern, and shows casks being tapped in the cellar before beer is drawn to the bar. The standard version of IPA is 3.6% but the new versions are more in keeping with the 19th-century origins of the style.

The new beers are Greene King IPA Gold (4.1%) and Greene King IPA Reserve (5.4%). Reserve is a scaled-down version of Very Special India Pale Ale, a 7.5% bottled beer launched two years ago but de-listed as a result of disappointing sales.

Both Gold and Reserve are also available in bottled format for take-home sales. Gold – as the name suggests – is a pale beer with an aromatic nose and palate of tropical fruits, mango and spices due to the use of Savinsjki hops from Slovenia. As well as the usual addition of hops during the brewing process, they are also added as a “late hop” at the end of the copper boil and also in the fermenting vessel, which gives the finished beer a rich fruit and spices flavour and dry finish. It has 30 units of bitterness.

Reserve is based on a 1820s recipe – Greene King dates from 1799 in Bury St Edmunds – and has a burnished deep copper colour from pale Tipple malt and darker grains, along with Styrian Goldings hops. In spite of the name, Styrian Goldings from Slovenia are an off-shoot of the English Fuggle. The beer has 36 units of bitterness and the hops deliver grapefruit and orange notes alongside a rich biscuit malt character, followed by a dry and hoppy finish.

Greene King, which owns 2,400 pubs, restaurants and hotels, sells 70% of its beer to the on-trade and all three versions of IPA will be widely available throughout the country. The beers will be backed by eye-catching new pump clips that explain that IPA stands for India Pale Ale.

Along with Marston’s and Wells & Young’s, Greene King is one of Britain’s major producers of cask beer and the promotion for IPA is the result of a year-long study by the brewery into the preferences of more than 30,000 drinkers. The survey found that while cask beer sales are driven mainly by 35+ males, younger consumers are also switching to the category. Market share for cask ale among males aged 25 to 34 has grown to 19%.

Euan Venters, managing director of Greene King’s brewing and brands division, says the IPA campaign could prove to be “a watershed moment in the history of ale. The traditional cask consumer remains at the heart of our brand but we also want the advertising and range extensions to help make the category more relevant to new drinkers coming into cask.”

The brewery is also emphasising the provenance of its beers by stressing that the barley it uses – Tipple – is grown by Suffolk farmers just a few miles from Bury St Edmunds and is also malted locally. Head brewer John Bexon (seen on left in image) works closely with farmers to select the finest grain from the harvest.