Last month, along with colleagues from Retail Express’ sister titles Retail Newsagent

nd Better Wholesaling, I took part in a “beer world cup” to celebrate the start of the Rugby World Cup.
rugby berr Beers from all partaking Rugby World Cup nations were put to the test

Lagers, porters, ales and stouts battled it out to be crowned champion in the first ever Better Wholesaling Rugby-themed Beer World Cup.

A bit of fun, perhaps (and what is beer if you can’t have fun with it..?), but at its heart there was a serious message.

The owner of the rugby club where we filmed the whole thing watched most of the afternoon, intrigued. At the end, we asked him what he thought about what he’d seen.

“I thought it was interesting that you weren’t just concentrating on taste,” he said. “But talking about trends and what would sell. That wasn’t what I’d expected”.

According to CAMRA, there’s a “craft ale revolution” underway. There are apparently now almost 1,500 breweries in the country – the same level as it was in the 1930s, when Burton and Warrington, Whitbread and Worthington, ruled the roost.

The term “craft ale” is bandied around so often that few have stopped to think about what it actually is. A group called the United Craft Brewers – comprising brewers like BrewDog, Camden Town and Beavertown – has promised to come up with a definition, as hard as that might be.

beer-world-cup-nations RN editor Chris Gamm and Better Wholesaling editor Tan Parsons were also involved in the judging

But one senior figure at a larger brewer, when asked by Retail Express to define it, struggled. “The best way to define a craft beer,” he said to us, “is by what it is not”.

During our Beer World Cup, modern “craft” ales rubbed shoulders with more established “real ale” products – as they should with retailers.

‘Craft’ is the trend on everyone’s lips and pavement a-boards, and it’s important to capitalise on this. But it shouldn’t be done at the expense of those brilliant, long-standing and popular beers you already stock.

Sales of new brands will prompt bigger sales of the older ones. Make sure you’ve got a crafty sales strategy.

Watch the group stages of the rugby-themed Beer World Cup. Did the right beers go through?