Ilkley Brewery has landed its first export deal which will see 14,000 bottles of Mary Jane IPA, Lotus IPA and The Chief arrive in the southern states of America in the next few days.

The deal was struck following two separate trade missions to the States: the first with the help of UKTI’s Passport to Export programme in January this year and the second, in March, as part of Santander’s Breakthrough programme. This is Ilkley Brewery’s first overseas shipment and marks the first in a series of planned monthly orders which will leave the UK for America.

The inaugural container load will be distributed to bars, restaurants and retail outlets throughout Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, New York and Washington states.

Yorkshire beers go stateside
The beers selected for this order were chosen by a panel of distributors and beer experts at a tasting event held by the brewery’s US importer in January this year. All three beers are highly hopped, big on flavour yet well balanced, qualities sought by the American craft beer market. Mary Jane IPA is a 6% version of Ilkley’s flagship Mary Jane pale ale, while Lotus IPA is a 5.6% classic IPA and The Chief, a 7% American-style triple hopped ale. Future shipments to the States will contain kegged as well as bottled beers and in autumn, the brewery hopes to send its rhubarb Saison, Siberia and its chocolate Chipotle stout, The Mayan.

Speaking about the brewery’s US export deal, managing director Chris Ives, said: “We’re thrilled to finally see our first shipment leave for America. Export continues to be a key focus for the business, so striking our first overseas deal is a significant milestone for us.

“I first visited the States back in January and met with a number of beer distributors who were interested in our range and discussions continued over the coming weeks. I was then able to cement this first deal with our importer on a return visit to New York and Washington in March, this time as a member of the Santander Breakthrough programme.

“We are particularly pleased to do business with the Americans because there isn’t a huge amount of British beer available in the States, predominantly because there are so many fantastic craft breweries out there already. Through the tasting events, we were able to demonstrate that our beers are just as intriguing and vibrant, just as big on hops and flavour but equally, offer something completely different to American craft beers.”

Business support
The support given to Ilkley Brewery through the UKTI Passport to Export programme, has enabled it to carry out market research and market visits, not only in America, but also in Canada, Norway and Sweden, the latter being the next destination earmarked for export.

In March, Chris headed to the US with the Santander Breakthrough programme to learn more about how the US marketplace works in terms of its competitive landscape and distribution networks, as well as learning about specific regulations through meetings with the British Consulate, local UK Trade and Investment representatives, international attorneys and representatives from the Government of New York State.

John Williams, Head of Breakthrough at Santander UK, said: “Our international presence allows us to share our knowledge and expertise of overseas markets, such as the US, to help fast-growth businesses, like Ilkley Brewery, unlock their potential and achieve their growth plans. We are absolutely delighted that Ilkley has signed its first export deal and we wish Chris and the team every success for the future.”

Breakthrough trade missions are part of Santander’s Breakthrough programme, which aims to help small businesses unlock their potential. As part of the programme, Santander is also making up to £200 million of growth capital loans available to fast-growth companies looking to invest in and grow their business. In addition to finance, Breakthrough also offers companies access to support and development programmes not typically available to SMEs, such as masterclasses with renowned business leaders to learn first-hand how to boost business growth.

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