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World Beer Awards success for Lacons Brewery

The Drinks Report talks to Lacons director, Trevor Hourican, on the company's World Beer Awards success and plans for expansion in 2016 with a new brew plant

Trevor Hourican Lacons Brewery

You recently won World’s Best Bitter up to 4%abv for Lacons Encore – tell us more about the production of this beer and why you think it is deserving of the title?

Encore is a session strength ale that has been perfectly crafted under the watchful eye of our multi award winning brewer Wil Wood and his team at Falcon Brewery. We use the finest ingredients including English maris otter malt, centennial and citra hops combined with the original Lacons yeast dating back over 60 years.

The beer is crafted by hand and left to develop at its own pace. This unrushed formula ensures every pint of Lacons is perfect, because for us - its all about time.


Give us a brief history of the Lacons and an overview of your award-winning portfolio.

Established in 1760, the Lacons name is interwoven with the history of Great Yarmouth and East Anglia. During the 1850s, the brewery sent over 150,000 pints of ale each week to its fifty pubs in London, alongside supplying its own pub estate of over 300 pubs throughout the region. In the early 20th Century the brewery began shipping its Audit Ale to the United States of America.

Today, we craft a range of five permanent ales - which are all award winners in their own right. These include Affinity - with its tropical fruit aroma and moreish full flavoured finish, which is CAMRA’s current Champion Golden Bitter of Norfolk and Falcon Ale, which was awarded Best Bitter Gold at the UK’s 2nd largest CAMRA beer festival at Peterborough in 2014. These fantastic ales are complemented by a seasonal collection and rolling heritage ale range, which have been inspired by historic recipes found in our vast archive.


Lacons opened its first public house in 50 years in June 2015, tell us about the success of the pub to date and the effect it has had on brand awareness among the community and beyond.

Lacons partnered with renowned Norfolk operator Henry Watt to reopen The Buck at Honingham as a showcase for our ales alongside a fantastic food offering. Community sits at the heart of the venue and we have built a vast following, based on our core values of consistency, quality and perfect service.

This year will also see the completion of a number of guest rooms, inspired and styled around some of our most loved ales, so guests can enjoy Norfolk at leisure with a pint of our finest!


What do you think differentiates your products from others on the market?

We believe it to be quality and consistency alongside a strong and trusted brand. Our extensive range of ales are interesting and exciting in styles of colour and flavour  – ensuring we appeal to a broad range of consumers palates. Whichever Lacons ale the consumer chooses, they will know instantly by the aroma and flavours enjoyed that the beer is made with the finest whole cone hops, malt and original Lacons yeasts which have been used for centuries to maintain a quality finish.


In what regions, countries, markets are your products available and who distributes them? Are they available in both the on- and off-trade?

We are at capacity on our current plant, so supplying our core cask customers in East Anglia is our key priority. Our bottled range is available in a number of independent retailers throughout the region and we have partnered with a number of the UK’s finest brewers to appear in their estates over the year – we have even had our ales served at the Houses of Parliament! We are currently awaiting delivery of new brew plant that will significantly increase our capacity - allowing Lacons to grow as part of a careful expansion plan that will ensure quality and flavour are never compromised.


What size is the company in terms of turnover/people/sales?

We currently employ over 60 people. Lacons brewing arm is complemented by a distribution network that offers a composite range of drinks to the licensed trade and delivers regularly to over 2,000 customers across the region from our brewery and regional distribution centres in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Turnover at present stands at £17 million per annum.


The labels and packaging designs of your brands make them instantly recognisable – explain a bit about the branding of your products.

A bold and balanced principle is used with all of our pumpclips, bottle labels and packaging. Simplicity and an effective use of colour work for us throughout our communications. For example, the striking use of bright white against our brown bottles doesn’t detract the drinker away from the fine liquid within.


Do you use a design agency – national or local?

We enlisted the support of a national creative agency to help us modernise our brand in 2013, to ensure that an updated emblem and associated branding would fit correctly against the growth plans we have in place.


How important do you think the packaging / label design is to the success of a beer and why?

These are of vital importance especially with attracting new consumers. In a marketplace that is expanding rapidly, the label design is a fundamental influencer for the consumer. Clear, concise and informative packaging will always be the winner here. Well – it works for us!


Where and how do you see future growth for your business? What exciting new products can we look forward to for 2016?

This year we are investing heavily in new brew plant which will allow us to upscale our capacity considerably. Once installed and tested, Lacons will be looking to open up new regional supply networks across the rest of the UK and beyond. We have already increased our hop forecast for the forthcoming years and our Brewer is already trialing recipes – ready to create Lacons first craft keg beer.

1 February 2016