Brewed by Robinsons to reflect the change in seasons, the new Co-op own brand beers will launch next week with Winter Ruby Ale on shelf until the Summer Pale Ale is launched in March.
In a market first, the Co-op buying team worked closely with Robinsons’ Head Brewer, Martyn Weeks, to launch a rotating range of own label beer styles, designed to complement different seasons throughout the year.
The Winter Ruby Ale, 4.2%, is a stunning ruby red ale with toffee and malt notes coming through from the rye and pale malts. A clever blend of Aurora, Celeia and Golding hops give rise to a delicate balance of fruit and deep blackcurrant with a lingering bitterness and is matched perfectly with steak and kidney pie, sausage and mash or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
Martyn Weeks, Robinsons Head Brewer, explains:
“Beer is a wonderful, seasonal product. Some ales are produced all year round to meet demand, while others pop up for short bursts each year and are brewed specifically to satisfy the thirsts of the season. The Co-op beers we have produced are the latter. Winter Ruby Ale is a quintessential beer to enjoy in wintertime, preferably tucked up in front of a warm crackling fire. While Summer Pale Ale is light, refreshing and drinkable, perfect for cookouts, long summer days, or cooling off after a hard day’s work. The beer styles also pair particularly well with seasonal foods.”
The two iconic North West community brands – born within six years of each other in neighbouring counties – first came together back in 2017 to serve up a trio of own label craft beers for Co-op Members and customers (Golden Ale, IPA, Triple Hop). In a retailer first, Co-op Members helped to influence the tasting descriptions on the beer labels and shelf edge labels, which have since proved a success as the beers have sold over two million bottles.
Jonathan Buckley, Senior Beer Buyer at Co-op commented:
“The Co-op beer customer is becoming increasingly discerning, more knowledgeable and ever more adventurous. They like to experiment with new flavours, and their choice of drinks change throughout the seasons. Working with a truly independent, family run business, with over 180 years’ brewing experience, felt like a very natural fit and it’s been the perfect partnership between two iconic North West businesses.
“We take a real pride in maximising the use of beer space in stores to champion a more interesting range for customers to enjoy and we are striving to do as much as is possible to build on beer occasions going forward.”
With both Co-op and Robinsons being from the North West, the labels have been designed to reflect their roots and feature hand drawn images of local scenes and traditional buildings from Manchester and Stockport juxtaposed with the changing face of the city.
Key to the brief was ensuring these still felt like part of the overall local beer range. Winter Ruby Ale, which depicts Castlefield, and Summer Pale Ale, a conglomeration of buildings showing the NOMA district, will sit alongside the existing Co-op own brand beers which feature Robinsons Brewery, Deansgate bridge and Salford Lads Club on the labels.
Ben Robinson, Director of Sales for Robinsons Brewery, said:
“There’s something exciting about beers that come and go with the seasons and we’re delighted to be working with Co-op on its first range of seasonal beers. Once again, it’s been an incredibly collaborative project with a sharp focus on quality and what the customer wants. We can’t wait to see them available exclusively on Co-op shelves.”
The first seasonal beer – Winter Ruby Red Ale – will be available from the 2nd September for six months across 1,400 Co-op stores, followed by Summer Pale Ale in March. The core range of bottled beers – Golden Ale, IPA, and Triple Hop – will continue to be available in Co-op stores nationwide.