With a new smoked variant of the specialty beer Cornet, the Palm brewery from Steenhuffel wants to build on its most successful product. Cornet sales are again growing in double digits this year.
The corona crisis has severely affected the figures of Palm, which has been part of the Dutch group Swinkels Family Brewers since 2016. In July, the Dutch carried out an impairment of EUR 29 million on the Belgian subsidiary.
‘During the lockdown, sales in the catering industry at home and abroad completely disappeared,’ says spokesman Peter Buelens. Today the turnover again exceeds our own forecasts. But in the important catering channel we have been talking about a 50 percent loss in turnover since the beginning of this year. As long as there is no vaccine, we must assume a lasting effect. In contrast, we have grown by double digits in retail. Exports are also getting back on track. ‘
More than 10 percent growth
The Belgian Swinkels subsidiaries produce Palm, Estaminet, Rodenbach, Brugge Tripel and Cornet, among others. The latter, wood-aged blond beer has been on the market since 2014. According to the company, Cornet, measured by volume, stands for the most successful launch of a beer in the last decade in our country. ‘Despite the pandemic, we are growing with Cornet again this year by more than 10 percent in our country,’ says marketing manager Tom Robberechts.
Despite the pandemic, we are growing with Cornet again this year by more than 10 percent in our country.
To continue with that momentum, the brewer is launching a new Cornet variant: the Cornet Smoked. In addition to the familiar lagering with wood chips, it gets a smoky touch. As with the trusted Cornet, no reference is made to Palm as a producer, but to De Hoorn brewery. That is the small sister brewery on the same site in Steenhuffel, East Flanders. Via De Hoorn, the company wants to profile itself as a specialty beer brewer that experiments more.
‘In the new variant, the Cornet DNA remains, but we have added a subtle smoked touch by working with smoked oak chips and a dose of malt dried on peat. We were inspired by the whiskeys, explains brewmaster Stijn Bundervoet.
According to star chef Vicky Geunes of the Antwerp restaurant Zilte, with whom Palm often collaborates, finding subtlety was the big challenge. ‘A smoked taste and aroma quickly dominate. You may not create excess with it, then it is no longer pleasant. ‘
The new beer brand is accompanied by a new pouring ritual that will delight café-goers. The brewery developed a ‘mini smoke gun’ for selected catering establishments. This first fills the glass with harmless smoke, after which the bar owner or beer drinker can pour the beer.
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