East African Breweries Plc (EABL) has invested Sh900 million to construct a new micro-brewery that will have a craft beer line at its Ruaraka-based headquarters.
The new microbrewery set for completion by end of this year is expected to help the brewer, which is controlled by Britain’s Diageo and is known for its flagship Tusker beer, to test the niche market for craft beer which analysts say has until recently been ignored by major brewers globally.
“A microbrewery will be a place where we have the capability to produce small volumes of craft beer where also our consumers can come and learn about how beer is made, learn more about our brands and also experiment with different flavours or different tastes that we have to offer,” said EABL managing director Jane Karuku on Monday after commissioning the plant’s construction.
“It will be for experimenting with a lot of things; flavours in small volumes and small batches,” said Ms Karuku.
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The new plant will host an in-premise bar and restaurant. Craft beer is made in a traditional or non-mechanised way by a small brewery and is seen to emphasise flavour and quality.
Ms Karuku said the craft beer market has potential for growth in Kenya adding that EABL is mindful of the craft beer trend.
Craft beers have seen a growing fan base in the country with many specialist pubs opening in recent years buoyed by the increased buying power of its largely millennial customer base.
“It’s a new area we need to get into. People want to have more intimate things for special occasions. Once you get a good craft then you can commercialise it and you can go big on it. We are just getting into experimenting,” she said.
EABL has in the past few years introduced various alcoholic brands in the region, seeking to grow and diversify its product portfolio by targeting different consumer segments at a time competition from foreign brewers has intensified in the premium and super-premium segments, which have experienced strong growth and retained attractive profit margins.
After shunning the craft beer market, some of the world’s big brewers and producers have been jumping on the craft beer bandwagon by buying small brewers or developing their own craft-like brews, reports show.
Beer volumes in North America and western Europe for instance according to reports have steadily declined in the past two decades as consumers shift to craft brews made by independent players, leading major beer companies to enter that market through acquisitions.