During the first nine months of last year, SIA Valmiermuiža’s alus brewed almost half a million tankards of beer (0.5 l), welcomed more than 2,000 gastronomic tourists and according to its pre-audit results, enjoyed a turnover of Ls 286,480. This year, the company plans to double both the volume of beverages it produces and its turnover.
“The last year has been a difficult one for us, because we had to establish both a distribution network for our products and brand awareness from scratch. However, it has also been a successful one, because a loyal network of connoisseurs has developed during the first nine months of our first operating year who are recommending our beer to others. Even though various experts believed that there was no room for new players in a Latvian market already comprised of 16 competing breweries, and in spite of the theory that an economic crisis is definitely not the most appropriate time to launch a premium quality beer brand, we’ve proved the opposite,” believes Aigars Ruņģis, one of Valmiermuiža’s alus landlords.
TURN OF THE YEAR CELEBRATED WITH ENTRY INTO RIMI AND MAXIMA STORE CHAINS
Last year, Valmiermuiža’s craft brewery brewed and sold 236,580 litres of beer. Essentially, this volume was sold through cooperation with specialist real ale shops, bars and restaurants, as well as stores including Sky, Prizma, Iki, Elvi, and Top, etc. throughout Latvia. This year, the volume of beer brewed is due to double to approximately 450,000 litres. Lately, we have signed contracts to also sell our products through “Rimi” hypermarkets and “Maxima” XX and XXX store chains, and we are currently putting the finishing touches to our preparations for the launch of Valmiermuiža’s tumšais. This year, we also plan to begin work on the development of recipes for natural non-alcoholic beverages.
“We have established a quality retail network and our products are easily accessible to connoisseurs and beer lovers regardless of their shopping habits and where they live. We are attractive to both consumers and our business partners due to our refusal to support compromises between product quality and price,” explains Aigars Ruņģis. “We will continue to abide by this commandment in working on new products such as our dark beer. Even though many companies are looking to cut prices in these crisis conditions, we are not saving on flavour. We brew our beer slowly and operate in accordance with the “Bavarian Purity Law” which was introduced in Germany during the 17th century to guarantee the quality of beer. Beer must be brewed from pure water, barley malt and hops. Nowadays, yeast is also used. As a result, our products are the most expensive in their segment, but it would be impossible to produce such quality beverages more cheaply.”
INVESTMENT IN THE GROWTH OF THE CULTURE OF ENJOYING BEER
According to data from the Latvian Brewers’ Association, last year there was a significant decline in the market share of small breweries from 25% to 15%. Several microbreweries including Lodiņa alus and Gulbenes alus have currently suspended their operation. At the same time, Valmiermuiža’s alus is increasing its production output, in so doing prioritising the establishment of a beer enjoyment culture in Latvia over rapid attainment of market share.
In just the first nine months of its first year in operation, the company has already welcomed more than 2,000 connoisseurs and tourists including the players from Dinamo Rīga ice hockey club. Next year, the brewery plans to further develop this line of operation. Meanwhile, leading travel agencies have included Valmiermuiža’s craft brewery in their travel guides. The brewery is working just as intensively to establish partnerships with other favoured destinations of connoisseurs in Vidzeme. And in addition to its aforementioned efforts, Valmiermuiža’s alus has undertaken a number of other activities previously unheard of in the market: - by competing against champagne. In partnership with several entertainment venues including Valmiera’s Drama Theatre where guests are offered “Valmiermuiža’s alus” at formal events alongside the usual champagne;- by assuming a role in beauty care, by establishing a bathhouse accessory shop next to the craft brewery and collating knowledge on how flogging should be done in the bathhouse, how beer massages should be administered, how a beer bath should be mixed, and last, but not least, by starting to promote this knowledge;- by competing against garlic bread, by initiating the baking of an unheard of beer snack based on an original recipe – savoury brewers’ grain snacks, and by developing more new snacks in partnership with small food producers.“Latvia has venerable traditions of brewing and enjoying beer and globally Latvian beer could enjoy the same renown as genuine French wine. It should not be drunk, but enjoyed. To achieve this, we need to not only expand the offering of such beers which can be enjoyed, but must also nurture the actual culture of enjoying beer,” believes Aigars Ruņģis. “And I genuinely believe that this is the right time for this. Under the influence of the crisis, craftsmanship is being reborn in Latvia. We are witnessing a rapid increase in high quality original handiwork, goods and products produced by skilled craftsmen. Among them are products bearing Valmiermuiža’s brand.”
FOR YOUR INFORMATIONSIA “Valmiermuiža’s alus” is a small craft brewery near Valmiera where beer is brewed in conservative amounts, observing the best quality traditions of the manor. Ls 2.5 million have been invested in the development of the new craft brewery, beer recipes and design. Valmiermuiža’s light beer has been on sale to consumers since March last year and its recipe was developed over more than nine months. Valmiermuiža’s alus is brewed slowly, using highest quality natural ingredients. The only ingredients in the beer are water, barley, hops and yeast. The beer is not pasteurised. Currently, Valmiermuiža’s alus is on sale in shops across almost all of Latvia.
Margrieta Akmens, Valmiermuiža’s alus Communications Consultant, Tel. +371 29188230, E-mail: email@example.com
Elīna Kuzmina, Valmiermuiža’s Craft Brewery Spokesperson, Tel. +371 26107337, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.