Dewey: I’m proud of the price we put on Landlord

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Timothy Taylor's CEO Tim Dewey on price point and green beer

Related tags Timothy taylor Landlord Cask ale Cellar management Brewing

Timothy Taylor’s is best known for its cask beer Landlord – and this entails a quality drink with premium pricing to match that CEO Tim Dewey is proud of.

Dewey, a dual US/British citizen who has lived in the UK for more than 35 years, took the reins at the Keighley family brewery in 2014.

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser​, he explained why the business is correct to charge what is perceived as a higher price for its beers and how the classic Landlord is different from many other cask ales at the bar today.

Dewey said: “Just because our beer or somebody else’s beer has a high price that isn’t a guarantee of quality. You’ve got to go back to what is actually taking place at the brewery.

“It’s an ethos that shows we are going to focus on quality and not on volume. We’re going to make sure we get a fair price for the effort that we put in.

“When small brewers’ relief was being relooked at, I’ve been a bit outspoken on it, so I came in for a bit of flak and was told by a brewery ‘you should be ashamed of yourself at the price you sell your beer at’ but I’m proud of the price we put on our beer because I’m proud of the efforts and no compromise that go on in our brewery.

“And if you are selling your beer cheaply, my question to you is, what value are you placing on what you do and the quality of what you do?”

He also said the Yorkshire brewery received an email from JD Wetherspoon back in 2005 – before Dewey began working there – that stated the managed operator wouldn’t stock its beer anymore unless it met certain price criteria.

It’s our philosophy

Dewey revealed: “I found a letter back from my predecessor, Charles Dent, explaining why we couldn’t sell our beer at the price they wanted and there was a great line at the bottom of this letter saying: ‘Should your policy ever change from buying on cheapness to buying on quality, here’s a list of all the awards that our beers have won in blind tasting festivals’.

Tim dewey Timothy Taylor's Landlord story 1

“I’ve got those two framed in our boardroom because I just think it’s our philosophy and there are customers we have now that we were kicked out of because they weren’t happy with our price but we’re back in now and we’re doing well with because they realise people are willing to pay a premium and why should cask ale be the lowest price on the bar? That’s an historic irony [as a working man’s drink], which is very difficult to reverse.

Many readers of The Cask Project​ would agree with Dewey, who explained: “The hardest experience for somebody to have at home is a cask ale experience so you’d think pubs would want to make sure they’ve got that absolutely spot on because it’ll be the thing that will bring consumers in, yet it ends up being an area where there’s such a challenge getting the quality right.”

Dewey, who joined Timothy Taylor’s after working at Drambuie where he was global marketing director and UK commercial director, and held a number of senior roles within the drinks industry including global brand director for Pilsner Urquell (SABMiller) and international marketing director for William Grant & Sons, explained a bit more about its cask star Landlord.

“Landlord is still the heart of the business,” he said. “It’s about 80% of the business that we do and I think the other thing to say is that cask ale is still the bulk of what we do. We supply beer in bottles to the supermarkets but it’s only about 12% of the business.”

He added the brewer’s number two beer is Boltmaker, which assisted him going into the job because it won the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival champion beer of Britain in August 2014.

Dewey said: “We had so many requests for guest slots [at pubs] for my first year, I didn’t really have to worry about the financials because we had the capacity to supply it. That was great because there were all these other changes I needed to make culturally.”

Timmy Taylor’s other beers include Knowle Spring Blonde, Golden Best, Dark Mild and Landlord Dark. “They’re all relatively small in volume terms but play an important role,” said Dewey, who was ranked in the US as a junior tennis player and still enjoys playing competitively.

“From a strategic point of view, we have Hopical Storm, which is our first keg ale, and it’s quite an important addition to the range because this came out of strategic necessity given what’s happening with the cask ale market.

“I just feel we’ve got to have a foot in the other camp of kegged ales given the challenges cask ale is facing.”

Green beer

An issue with the brewery has to be careful with pubs is that they don’t put Landlord on too soon.

Dewey explained: “It’s what we call ‘green beer’, ie, beer that’s been put on sale but hasn’t really been given sufficient time to condition.

“One of the characteristics of our beer is we have a very vigorous secondary fermentation. What a lot of cask brewers have done to make life more convenient for the publican and for themselves is before the beer goes into cask, they might filter or centrifuge out a lot of the yeast so they can say ‘it’s a real ale’ because there is some yeast in there but it’s really not doing much at the secondary fermentation level.

“The point is that secondary fermentation is not a box-ticking exercise. It actually develops another layer of quality and complexity to the beer and so on the one hand, they’re able to say to outlets ‘look the great thing with our beer is when it’s delivered, it’s ready for sale within three hours’ but, in a way, they’re doing that by short-changing the secondary fermentation.

“With our beer, we let all the yeast and, I must qualify you can have too much yeast and too much means we have to take action, but effectively we allow the bulk of the yeast to flow through and we even put in a little bit of sugar to give it some energy.

“For our poor sales guys, it means when they go into the outlet they have to say ‘forget this three hours thing’ and say you need to give it a minimum of 48 hours and if you can give it a week, it’ll be even better.

“And we’re so committed to this that pubs we deliver to directly from the brewery direct, we segregate their stock for a week in our warehouse before we deliver it, whereas when we’re delivering nationally via because we’re going into a distribution chain, it’s loses that week in getting from us to the wholesaler to the to the pub.”

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