“Lagunitas, one of the top US craft breweries, demand a door to door cold chain with their in-market distributors before signing a deal,” it told exporters in a recent report of the New Zealand craft beer scene. “Refrigerated containers (reefers) are an absolute must for most of the New Zealand craft brewers we spoke to.”
Keeping a constant temperature is the best way to maintain the quality of the beer, but different countries have different theories on the matter. The US largely relies on refrigerated shipping, Australia tends towards ambient distribution centres. “Multiple brewers with experience in China have told us that you can almost guarantee the ‘last mile’ will be in the back of a very hot van,” the report claimed.
The report used the case study of local brewer Yeastie Boys, which chose to brew in the UK rather than deal with international freight. Transport to the UK could take up to six months, with no guarantee that the beer would be transported in optimum conditions.
“The idea here was that we could have fresher beer, at a sharper price and better margin, and be more adaptable to the needs of customers in the local market,” said Yeastie Boys founder Stu McKinlay.
“If we needed an extra twenty pallets of Bigmouth – our Session IPA – we could have that ready in four weeks. From New Zealand that would take at least ten but probably 12.”