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8th March 2012

Britain’s biggest beer shop set for expansion

Britain’s biggest beer shop will more than double in size under plans to extend the superstore near King’s Lynn.
The expansion will allow Beers of Europe to expand its range of more than 1,700 different beers from around the world – as well as its massive selection of wines, spirits, cider and home brewing equipment.
The business is currently hampered by lack of space to display its full range, which is expected to grow further as new and unusual drinks are added each month.
A new tasting area will enable discerning shoppers to try a wide variety of products, while a beer garden will add to the store’s appeal as a tourist destination.
Derek Clark, who helps run the family business, said the floorspace will more than double to 11,000 square feet.
“I’m almost certain this will make us the biggest beer shop in Europe, if we are not already, and will transform us into even more of a tourist destination,” he added.
“The tasting bar will mean that people who may be nervous about buying some of the more unusual beers and spirits we stock in case they don’t like them can have a small sample first.
“And as we have visitors coming from all over the country, and indeed the world, they will be able to relax in the beer garden and take a more leisurely visit.”
The most distant visitors were a pair of beer enthusiasts from California.
“They worked for American Airlines so got reasonable air fares, flew to Heathrow, hired a car, came to the shop and spent half a day looking around,” said Mr Clark.
“They each bought a case of Tongerlo Triple Blonde, which they couldn’t get hold of in America, got back in their car and were straight back on a flight home.
“Then there are the bottle collectors who will drive across Europe just to add to their collection. We’ve got a collector in Italy who has a garage full of bottles he’s collected – he doesn’t even drink the contents; his neighbour does!”
Mr Clark and his brother, Allan, started the business about 11 years ago having fallen in love with European and world beers on their regular trips abroad with their television aerial and satellite system business, Maxview Ltd.
“When we were abroad, our motto was: ‘eat local, drink local’ because we wanted to really experience the countries we were in. If we were in Berlin, we’d seek out real Berliner food and we made a point of trying local beers and drinks,” he said.
“We got to try some amazing beers and wondered to ourselves why we couldn’t get hold of them in Britain. We realised there was a real gap in the market.”
Beers of Europe was born and the business hasn’t looked back since it began with just a hundred or so beers from Germany, Belgium and the UK.
Now the store and warehouse houses 150,000 bottles, with about 60 new products added to the stock list each month.
The business is a family affair with Derek’s wife Carol and sons Daniel and Jason working alongside him.
All share a passion for offering something completely different and an expertise that makes Beers of Europe  different to the big supermarkets, which all stock a similar selection of “often bland and uninteresting beer”.
“If you go into most shops that sell alcohol, they’ll have the same range as everywhere else. Here, we stock drinks that no one else in the UK has.
“People are far more interested in good food and drink than they’ve ever been before and, possibly surprisingly, women make up a large percentage of our customer base.
As well as the store, the business has a thriving online operation, shipping hundreds of consignments every week.

Matt Ware

Maze Media


t: 0844 88 88 488


a: Greenland Fishery, Bridge Street, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 5AB