Beer Hawk swoops upon Beer Bods subscription service

Online retailer Beer Hawk and subscription service Beer Bods have joined forces in a bid to “get more people drinking better beer”.

Beer Hawk, which has been part of the AB-Inbev empire since 2016, acquired Beer Bods for an undisclosed sum. 

Matt Lane, Beer Bods’ founder, said: “It has become increasingly clear that in order for Beer Bods to reach its full potential, we need a partner that can help take us to the next level.”

Beer Bods had previously raised money through online crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. In 2014 it raised £150,000 from 101 investors in return for a 22.5% stake in the business. Then, in August 2017, the company held a second round, which raised £254,550 from 562 investors in return for 10.52% of its equity.

When the news of the takeover broke some investors voiced concerns about a drop in the value of their holdings. Lane declined to comment further on this but wrote individually to those affected.

“At least the business was sold for value before administration,” said one investor. “That’s better than the recent failures of Redchurch and The Bottle Shop and shows a better underlying business management to deal with issues before it got too bad.”

Beer Bods claims it was the first beer subscription service in the UK. While the model has since been emulated by others, Beer Bods remains unique in that it arranges for customers to drink the same beer at the same time each week and discuss it on Twitter using #BeerBods to coordinate the conversation.

Beer Bods recently introduced another innovation with its Build A Case platform. This allows customers to collate customised beer cases over a 30-day period by using #buildacase on the company’s social media channels. Take-up has reportedly been slow since the service was launched in February.

This acquisition will not be Beer Hawk’s first experience with the home delivery subscription model. The company launched its own service in the summer of 2012.

“I still have a small debate with Matt as to whether he really was the first beer club in the UK or whether we were,” said Mark Roberts (left), Beer Hawk’s co-founder.

Beer Hawk has relaunched its subscription service three times since 2012 but has struggled to scale it successfully. “It’s really hard,” said Roberts. “It needs some real passion, some real specialist skills. And frankly, looking at how the UK beer retail market was, it was very clear that BeerBods just had an exceptional subscription, going to the 9pm Thursday tastings, the community around that, the way they presented the beer, the experience.”

One Beer Bods customer said: “The ironic thing for me is that Beer Bods was my answer to the problems with service I had received from companies like Beer Hawk. It will be disappointing indeed if the selection, service and quality that I associate with Beer Bods dwindles under the new ownership. I expect some customers to already be voting with their feet and many more will join them if standards fall.”

Lane and the rest of the Beer Bods staff of six will remain in place, and will continue to choose the beers that feature in its customers’ monthly boxes.

“Before this deal the criteria for the beers we picked was that it has to be a well made beer and it has to have a decent story behind it,” said Lane. “That was our policy when we were picking beers before the deal, and that’ll be our policy afterwards.”

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