Cheers to the Bar of Success

Machine Translation: English
  • Name: Dark Star Brewing Company Limited
  • Country / Territory: United Kingdom
  • IP right(s):
  • Date of publication: June 11, 2011
  • Last update: March 6, 2015

Dark Star Brewing, United Kingdom

A pint of Dark Star Beer (Photo: Flickr/David Blaikie)

The Dark Star Brewing Company (Dark Star) was established in 1994 in the cellar of The Evening Star pub in Brighton, England. Co-founded by Rob Jones, Peter Halliday and Peter Skinner, the company has raised headlines as one of the most innovative and dynamic businesses in the brewing industry in the United Kingdom (UK). Starting off with sheer enthusiasm and home-brew equipment, the company’s co-founders developed an award-winning brewery with several brands reaping tremendous success.

Commercialization and partnerships

In 1987, a dark bitter that Mr. Jones developed while working at Pitfield Brewery became the Champion Beer of Britain. Seven years later, Dark Stark was founded as a brewery with Mr. Jones’ beer, the Dark Star Original, as one of its earliest beers and most successful brand. 

In 2001, Dark Star relocated its production facilities and invested £250, 000 in a new, state-of-the-art, purpose-built, 16, 000 square foot (1, 500 square meters) brewery with the goal of expanding production and its range of beers. There the company researched new ways of meeting an ever increasing demand for Dark Star beer.

With stainless steel equipment and computer-aided temperature gauges manufactured in the Republic of Hungary, the company increased production four-fold and was able to supply a wide variety of beers for varying tastes. “Our whole strategy is to cater for the real ale lovers who love variety. In order to cater for that, we’ve put in a brewing plant that resembles one you might see in Europe,” said a company spokesman.

Having installed its own mill, Dark Star gained the flexibility to process a wide variety of malts on site, including Munich smoked malt (used for bock or German style lager beer) and Czech lager malts. “There’s a four-tank brewery process here and we now also do step mashing, which enables us to make cloudy weiss wheat beers (German for “white beer”), too. Flexibility is at the top of the list,” the company spokesperson said.

In order to create new products and reach new customers, the brewery entered into collaborations with industry partners. One such partnership has been with The Kernel Brewery (The Kernel) in London, UK. In a joint venture began in 2010, the companies produced a new beer –  Imperial Märzen – based upon a mixture of pilsner (a pale larger with strong hoppy flavor), Munich (a dark larger with distinctive malt taste), Cara gold malt, hop (a flavoring and stabilizing plant used in beer manufacture), Centennial, and Motueka (a hop grown in New Zealand). Brewed and bottled at The Kernel brewery, Imperial Märzen has proved to be a winning formula for both companies, and has developed a growing customer and client base.

The Natural Blonde trademark (Image: from UKIPO
registration)

Following investments in new facilities and collaborations with industry partners, as of 2010 Dark Star was the second largest brewery in Sussex, UK. The brewery has managed to expand commercialization of its beers via a growing list of sister-pubs (including The Stand Up Inn and The Duke of Wellington, both in the UK) and in collaboration with industry partners such as The Kernel.

Branding

Dark Star has exploited its increased production capability by developing and supplying a wide array of beer brands in order to meet seemingly insatiable consumer demand. The company has offered over 20 beers and its different beer styles and flavors are popular with a new generation of consumers.

Dark Star not only creates new brands but also revives forgotten ones with its range of traditional beers including porters (dark-colored, malt beer) and spiced beers. The company anticipates market trends by changing some of its brands annually, even considering completely different approaches such as fruit beer.

The brewery keeps six beers regularly on tap (Dark Star Original, Dark Star Hophead, and Dark Star Partridge Best Bitter, for example), and alternates among its other brands depending, for instance, on the season (dark, strong beers such as Winter Meltdown for the winter; light, sweet and fruity beers such as Sun Burst for summer). The company also produces a series of monthly beers which account for some of Dark Star’s best-selling beers.

Among Dark Star’s best-selling brands are: Espresso (a black beer brewed with coffee), SaisonUnder (which has a “European” taste) and real ales (beer made of natural ingredients and without preservatives) including Old Chestnut, American Pale Ale, and Summer Metldown.

By creating new and imaginative brands, the company is able to maintain its competitive advantage in a fast-changing industry and satisfy consumer demand. “In our market, the enthusiasts are looking for novelty and variety. They love the idea of a new beer, which you have to try fast, otherwise it’s gone,” the company said.

Trademark

The brewery is acutely aware of the use of trademarks to protect brands and clear the way to new business opportunities. In 1992, for instance, a trademark application was made for Dark Star at the Intellectual Property Office of the UK (UKIPO). Wishing to ensure its right to expand into the European Union (EU) while protecting its intellectual property (IP), in the same year the company registered its Dark Star trademark at the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM).

The company has also filed trademarks for its popular brands including Natural Blond™, Spiced Vice™, and Natural Blonde™ at  UKIPO and OHIM.

Business results

The Dark Star trademark (Image: from UKIPO
registration)

With attractive brands protected by trademarks, the company has grown in size, gained new customers and won recognition in the brewing industry of the UK. As a mark of success, in 2009 Dark Star American Pale Ale (APA) was voted best golden ale at the Great British Beer Festival and the company’s Dark Star Espresso won “World’s Best Speciality” Beer at the World Beer Awards run by Beers of the World magazine.

Not only winning industry awards, the brewery has also expanded its production capacity and commercialization figures significantly. Also in 2009, Dark Star produced a million liters of beer, with sales topping £2.5 million, an increase of 25 percent.

With production and sales on the rise, the company continues to impress with its brand of beers and growing family of pubs. In 2011, the brewery won several more awards including Gold awards for its Dark Star Imperial, Dark Star Triple and Dark Star Hophead. In the same year, Dark Star was selling beer in three pubs including The Evening Star, in Brighton, The Duke of Wellington, in Shoreham, and The Stand Up Inn, in Lindfield, UK.

Cheers!

Dark Star was established following a conversation between friends over a few beers. After years of committed hard work supported by smart decisions, the company has produced a successive stream of novel brands which were successfully exploited financially, and protected with trademarks.