Friday, 3 July 2015

Brewing up a Windsor wives tale: RoHo MBA study visit

"Help yourselves...really, just help yourselves" urged our hosts at Windsor and Eton brewery, Paddy and Penny, whilst encouraging the stalwart members of our study visit for masters students to stay on a while and try out the full range of distinctively flavoured beers available in the sample room.  

They did not take much persuading, I can assure you.

The most popular choice was Magna Carta, a new addition to the WEBrew portfolio (two bottles pictured below) a beer that was developed to offer a novel drinking experience using historically researched ingredients and drawing on the interest in the 800 year celebrations of the signing of the Great Charter at the nearby Thames side meadow in Runnymede.

Head brewer Paddy, the story teller, had successfully cast his spell, providing a tour of the production facilities that was also laced with rich business insights that only one of the four founding partners of the business could provide from this highly successful 2011 start up.  One happy student summarised their highly positive experience thus: 

"It's got everything, entrepreneurship, operations, marketing, HR, strategy, finance... It was a perfect venue for an MBA field trip."

Story Teller Paddy, Head Brewer at Windsor and Eton

Paddy regaled students with the unexpected impact the founders wives had had in innovatively using picture heavy updates in Facebook. Fb link They tracked the brewery's fast start up, over just six short weeks to the beginning of the real ale season (St George's day), crucial marketing activity that is recognised by the initially rather dubious entreprenurial men folk for the launch weekend sell out of their first 23 cask production run.  This digital PR engagement helped firmly establish a strong consumer pull demand for their early heraldic sounding beers, dubbed evocatively Conquerer, Knight of the Garter and Guardsman. Start up story link.  

Since then the brewery has not shied away from leveraging social media to develop a local community following, critical given the tiny advertising funds available in their organically funded business.  Jokingly, but with a serious intent, Paddy actively encourages tour visitors to post on TripAdvisor, keen to give "the woman up the hill" competition for the highest rated tourist destination in Windsor.  TripAdvisor link  You will see from the screen shot below that they are doing rather well !

What was new since last year ?  Last visit

The Windsor and Eton brewery has offered relevant and highly enjoyable experiential study visits for Royal Holloway students since 2013 and are also the feature organisation in an upcoming case study publication by MBADirector Justin O'Brien.  So what innovations had taken place since the last visit a year ago ?

Windsor Tot pump rings

Windsor Tot, a cask offering with a limited edition of 500 numbered bottles, was developed to mark the birth of royal baby Charlotte Diana.  Older brother George had had a shorter bottle production run named 'Windsor Tot' of just 300 which sold out in short order.    The kissing swan design that a heart shaped outline is encircled by a "Windsor knotted" golden tie, a clever visual pun on the colloquial English expression 'tying the knot' meaning getting married. Pictured to the right above, with blue bottle labels, is the Royal Wedding inspired Windsor Knot forerunner.  

Did you know that in UK mute swans are not only a species in danger from lead fishing weight poisoning, but also owned by the queen, having been once prized as a tasty source of food.  Link here for more.

Treason, a west coast IPA, is the first new beer from the Uprising brewery sub-brand inspired by the younger members of the brew team.  It is bottle conditioned, (has yeast in the bottle that needs to settle out), and is recommended to be served cold.  The WEBrew brand is traditional and very much targeted at the more mature beer drinker, the radical sounding breakaway brew derivative offers the opportunity to experiment with more contemporary styles and ingredients.  Like the Czech inspired craft lager 'Republika' Uprising uses non-traditional, anti-monarchy republican associations, a clever marketing inversion that seeks to develop a portfolio offering with appeal to both traditional and fresh style beer drinkers.  

Corker was being primed for release during the Ashes.  The name plays on the expression "phew what a corker !" signifying a great day or performance and probably the Australian stereotype head gear, a hat with corks on strings to deter bugs.

The George Inn in Eton, is the first of an aspirational chain of two or three pubs for the immediate catchment area.  Windsor and Eton brewery have taken over the tenancy, currently a food pub with rooms, that will gradually be redeveloped into a "proper beer pub",  popular for its affordable food and great beer.  It is part of a strategic blocking manoeuvre,  with 1,500 breweries in a market place that can perhaps sustain 800, WEBrew are keen to stamp their brand on the Windsor area to ensure that new entrants give their locale a wider birth.