As a former managing director of Bargain Booze Keith Webb knows how to promote and sell beer. He also knows a good business opportunity when he sees one. So when he had the chance to ask a question at a Q&A session with his favourite band, Wolf Alice, he asked if they would like to come on a tour of the local Manchester craft brewery, Seven Bro7hers that he is helping to advise. When they said they “yes” it was the start of a relationship that has seen the launch of Wolf Alice’s very own craft lager – Yuk Brew. Here Keith explains how it all came together…
It was quite a year for indie rock band, Wolf Alice. Their first major global tour and, thanks to the quick thinking of ex-Conviviality executive, Keith Webb, and now Seven Bro7hers Brewery consultant, the chance to make their own craft beer – Yuk Brew.
I first became aware of the Seven Bro7hers Brewery in Summer 2016 when my wife spotted their first crowdfunding campaign. We both liked the branding and decided it would be worth pursuing. A webinar later, I visited the (first) brewery and after meeting the guys I was an investor. I knew they had that ‘something’.
Because of my background in the alcohol industry I kept in regular contact with the brothers and made occasional visits to the brewery – to keep an eye on my investment!
I have always been a big music fan, but stopped listening to much new stuff after Oasis stopped being good. So my MP3 sort of stopped at 1999. This drove my wife and daughter mad when we were driving and they continually suggested various more modern bands in an attempt to move my tastes on from the 90’s (and 60’s, 70’s and 80’s). One day a track from Wolf Alice arrived in my ears. I liked it and went to see them at a small gig in Birmingham in September 2015.
I knew they had that ‘something’.
In late 2016 my family attended the world premier in London of the Michael Winterbottom film ‘Wolf Alice On The Road’. At the end of the presentation, at a Q&A, I asked the band’s bass player, Theo, if they would visit our (then soon to be opened) Beerhouse the next time they were in Manchester. He said yes!
A number of Manchester gigs came and went, each one at a bigger venue than the last. Then, in June 2018, the band supported the Foo Fighters at The Etihad Stadium. A massive gig! Later that night the band’s drummer Joel visited our bar, loved it and, after sampling a few brews suggested we make a Wolf Alice beer!
Obviously we were very keen to interrogate this opportunity. There is a natural affinity between the beer and music industries so, around the band’s incredibly busy schedule, we kept in contact and gradually moved things forward. In September Keith McAvoy, owner and founder of Seven Bro7hers Brewery, and I met with the band and their management in London. At that meeting they identified what type of beer they liked (lager) and gave us a list of brands they liked – and didn’t! From that list our brewers, Greg and Jack, selected a likely ‘fit’ from our recipe book.
Fast forward to October and Ellie, Joff, Theo and Joel visited the brewery to sample the proposed recipe. Thankfully they liked it, so we were able to press on.
The band began to work on branding and a name. They had loads of ideas that they shared with us. And the result is what we launched at their three huge end of 2018 tour gigs in Manchester and Brixton Academy in December.
Why Yuk Brew? The lead single off the band’s 2018 Mercury Prize winning second album Visions of a Life was called Yuk Foo. Simple as that! Their many fans will ‘get’ it and it will be a talking point for those not yet familiar with their work. Genius!
Where will we focus on for sales? Obviously it’s logical to look, initially, at music orientated venues. We struck a deal with Live Nation to get Yuk Brew available at the three December gigs. These provided great initial exposure for the collaboration. The massive reach of Wolf Alice’s social media was deployed and all three gigs sold out of the beer – before the band even got to the stage! We know that new stockists will get the massive benefit of the band’s and Seven Bro7her’s marketing teams driving interest and footfall.
It’s important to clarify that our agreement with the band is not a one off – it’s a long term deal. Now we have ‘proof of concept’ we will, in 2019, seek distribution from wholesalers serving the entertainment industry, selected individual venues, and operations such as the National Union of Students as well as the wider trade. The indie rock sector is very vibrant at the moment in the UK and the band has a growing fan-base around the world, so we expect to fully capitalise on their next touring cycle as well.