There’s no doubt about it, Britain loves a drink. In 2017, the UK alcohol industry made over £40bn, and 53% of this (a whopping £21bn), came solely from the sale of wines and spirits. Our wine market is the sixth largest on the planet and wines and spirits support over 500,000 jobs in the UK, making it absolutely vital for businesses to tap into the key drink trends if they want to survive, maximise their growth and remain consumer favourites.
Here at Feast It, we know that keeping up with the changing taste buds of the British nation can be a challenge, so we’ve compiled a selection of the top trends to look out for in 2018.
Britain’s favourite celebratory beverage, sparkling wine, first became popular in the Victorian era. The 2018 trend harks back to the Victorian batches that were made using hedgerow ingredients.
The timelessness of champagne means that businesses can afford to innovate and experiment with it, creating one of 2018’s most sophisticated and refreshing trends.
This year at Feast It, we’ve seen an increase in consumers requesting flavoured and elderflower champagne, so much so that we’ve been hunting for mobile bars specialising in it. Renegade & Longton have hit the nail on the head with their modern and innovative elderflower sparkling wine. Their Elderflower Blush is made in the same way as champagne, blended with elderflower, strawberries and rhubarb instead of grapes. Take it from us, it is incredibly tasty and the perfect summer party drink.
Let us now turn our minds to a spirit that isn’t so much a trend, but an obsession. In 2017, the sales value of gin rose to £1.3bn and Britain saw the bottom of 47 million bottles, whereas vodka and whisky sales didn’t budge. The ‘gin boom’ is thought to have started in 2010 with the launch of Sipsmith, who pushed gin into the limelight and caused it to overtake vodka as our nation’s favourite tipple.
Our 2018 gin trend is a total revival of a spirit with a rather dubious and dark history. Gin has been part of British culture since the 17th century, used to send babies to sleep, often perpetually, and to help mothers forget their struggle and strife. By the middle of the 18th century, the effect of gin on both poor families and our economy was catastrophic. Today, Mother’s Ruin is a sign of sophistication and celebration, and the UK has entered a state of a juniper-induced frenzy, visiting gin spas where you can actually soak your weary feet in a tub of it.
With over 315 gin distilleries now in Britain, summer 2018 is set to be gin’s largest show to date, with new flavour variations from well-known brands, as well as new craft gin brands appearing on a daily basis. Struggling to keep up with the ridiculous demand for gin, big drinks companies are buying smaller gin brands, with Sipsmith and Monkey 47 both being snapped up in the past few years. Gin is a trend that won’t be slowing down any time soon!
When you first hear someone mention sour beer, it sounds rather unappealing, and images of medieval men sloshing it about in wooden tankards comes to mind, but once you understand the way it’s made and the refined complexity of its flavours, it’s all you’ll want to try. In the past three or four years, craft beers, especially IPA’s, have soared in popularity, so will sour beer follow suit, or is it a novelty? We think that it’s complexity of fruity, floral and spicy flavour will catch on and become a forerunner of British beers.
The trend is already taking off in America and Canada – with folk taking it up mountains with them as a refreshing hiking drink.
The demand for non-alcoholic beer is traditionally low, but rumour has it that this is set to change in 2018. Beer is one of Britain’s greatest accessories to being sociable, so now the health-conscious, pregnant women, designated drivers, and those who can’t consume alcohol for religious or cultural reasons can also indulge in a refreshing bottle of beer at the bar. We’ve seen plenty of beer brands adapting to this trend, with Brewdog, for example, bringing out their Nanny State, which is so full of American hops that you wouldn’t know it can’t get you drunk. The beauty of non-alcoholic beer is that the nation perceives it as sophisticated, so it doesn’t damage the social image of the brand or it’s drinker. Now you can spend hours at the pub without the fear of an impending hangover… surely this trend is here to stay?
No one can say that Britain is fickle when it comes to alcohol consumption, but more and more of us want to consume our booze in an elegant fashion, so if we’re knocking it back, it’s got to be good. With social media so prevalent in our society, news travels fast so businesses need to be really on top of the trends if they want to succeed. Drinks companies need to be thinking about their economic responsibility now more than ever, as well as becoming seasonal, adapting their ingredients and flavours for spring, summer, autumn and winter. The competition is huge, but being innovative and adapting to consumer trends is incredibly exciting.
By Digby Vollrath, co-founder of Feast It, street food event caterers