A gin-influenced pale ale named ORI-GIN is SABMiller’s latest award-winning beer. But this one isn’t available on the high street; it was brewed by UK head office employees, who are more likely to be working in IT, finance or human resources than be master brewers or marketers.

The annual Brew-Off contest means employees can use their passion for beer creatively and get hands-on experience of the intricate journey of devising, brewing and marketing a new beer. It’s such a popular activity that it is always over-subscribed and the competition is fierce.

Each Brew-Off has a theme. This year’s mission was to create a beer with a ‘continental twist’ that would be popular with modern drinkers.

So the rival teams – with names such as Smooth Hoperators and SustainaBEERlity – worked on recipes and marketing concepts before leaving their desks to visit the technical department’s brewing kitchen. With sleeves rolled up and our brewing experts’ guidance, the teams set to work brewing their final chosen recipe.

As well as working on beer style and taste with the technical guys, they also worked closely with our marketing experts to learn how to construct a brand for the beer.  This includes working out what their brand stands for and who it will appeal to, as well as designing the labels and merchandise.

The Brew-Off finale was a tasting event where colleagues tried each other’s concoctions and voted for the beer they felt was the best tasting and the one most likely to be bought by a consumer.

The winners were Brew Crew, with their gin and craft beer-inspired pale ale, ORI-GIN. Team captain Luke Clemens was proud of the result:

Our concept was strong, but we were honestly surprised, as there were a lot of good beers in the competition. I think our use of juniper extract and distiller’s yeast brought another element to the beer, and using the fruity Cascade hop really enhanced the citrus flavours.
Luke Clemens |Customer Marketing Manager,Miller Brands UK

Other Brew-Off beers with a continental twist included the French-inspired Roux Brew, Scandinavian ale Jørd, brewed with a single malt and one hop variety, and the Indian-influenced Bollywheat.

As the winning team, the Brew Crew will travel to our state-of-the-art research brewery in Nottingham to brew ORI-GIN on a larger scale. When it’s ready, it’ll take pride of place as a guest beer at our UK head office bar for all to enjoy.

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