Drink like an Egyptian! ‘Authentic desert beer’ Dune Surfer draws healthy line in sand

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

John Hunt revisited the ancient Egyptian past to brew the 'beer of the future' (Photo: Greyhound Drinks)
John Hunt revisited the ancient Egyptian past to brew the 'beer of the future' (Photo: Greyhound Drinks)

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

Greyhound Drinks will launch novel post-exercise recovery beer Dune Surfer in the UK this summer and founder John Hunt tells why it’s such a ‘forward-looking new-age drink'.

Fresh from a high-profile career with Scottish & Newcastle (as was), Foster’s Group and Heineken, where he was latterly executive director of global strategy, Hunt (pictured) says he wanted to launch a beer that tapped current growth in wellness products.

The result is, he claims, a tasty, hydrating premium light that also retains the “sociability and fun”​ of alcohol, a crossover drink with only 2% ABV alcohol – a refresher not rocket fuel.

Hunt says Edinburgh-based Greyhound Drinks worked with a London consultancy to refine the Dune Surfer taste, and said he hit upon a formula “that isn’t a wall of sugar or a big hit of citrus”.

“It’s a subtle taste with a good nose – it’s fresh, easy to drink and sessionable,” ​he adds.

Vitamin B profits from caffeine's 'fall from grace'

Moreover, by using minerals such as sodium – important for recovery after intense exercise – Dune Surfer is positioned as a sports recovery drink, with gyms and five-a-side soccer venues possible outlets – although Hunt is quick to draw a line in the sand.

Hunt, Dune Surfer

“We’re not trying to say ‘drink this during sport’ – it’s for post-sport recovery. Dehydration is a key impact on the body in terms of mental and physical fatigue. So sodium recovery is crucial. But we also use things like antioxidants in goji, acai and yuzu fruit as well as Vitamin B,"​ he says.

“This is vital given the fall from grace suffered by taurine and caffeine in energy drinks. Vitamin B naturally occurs in yeast in beer anyway, but brewers tend to filter it off. Yet B6, B9 and B12 do boost energy in the body, so that’s a clear benefit too.”

Moreover, the drink is low in calories (60kCal/330ml bottle) and low in gluten, and Hunt says the drink is designed as a sessionable drink to consume with friends after exercise.

'Not a 'beer minus' but a 'drink plus'

Historically, Hunt acknowledges, lower alcohol drinks have often been seen as a “default or forced choice – you’ll only have these if you have to for certain reasons, say health, sport or driving”.

“We wanted to try and create a drink that wasn’t a 'beer minus' but a 'drink plus' – we’ve worked on creating body and a nice mouthfeel. Dune Surfer is a fusion of flavors – some herbs and spices there, some fruits, but a beer taste and some mineralization,”​ he explains.

Every good brand has a strong back story, and Hunt has worked hard on his…

Dune Surfer uses the tagline ‘The Authentic Desert Beer’ and its ethos taps into the Egyptian age, given ancient hieroglyphs showing people brewing beer, which Hunt describes as “very much a 2%-style weaker alcoholic drink for refreshment and revitalization”.

Turning hieroglyphs into hot sales figures

“The idea of hydration is crucial in a desert…then there’s this idea of oasis inspiration – wild grasses and barleys, herbs and spices, fruits and berries and highly mineralized water,”​ he adds.

“That brings together that concept in an imagination sense. The sense of freedom and space you get from deserts as an untapped wilderness and freedom, allied with the modern concept of dune surfing or sand boarding – as an active, modern, slightly alternative sub culture.”

Hunt explains that Dune Surfer draws upon all these emotional touch points, as he goes back to the future, so to speak, in brewing – turning desert hieroglyphs into a potentially hot sales figures.

“We’re not going for a really retro, historical look,”​ Hunt says. “It’s more of a forward-looking new-age beer – what beer could look like in the future, without harping on about a specific type of hop or a specific type of malt. It’s more of a crossover product.”

“We’ve spoken to most of major retailers, supermarkets and C-stores as well. We’re looking at a major national launch in the summer – before that we’ll do some marketing, make sure consumers understand the story and want to buy the product,”​ he adds.

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