Hard Soda: Pitch It Now Before It’s Done

drunk-teen-girlsSteve’s breakdown: Everyone in the bev-biz is going hard-soda crazy. Will it last? Hell No! But will you be able to make some cash pushing it? Hell Yeah! Check out this story about all the players.

EVERYWHERE, USA: Brace yourselves. More hard soda is on the way.

The country’s two biggest hard root beer producers — Pabst Brewing and Boston Beer Company — have simultaneously announced the national rollout of more soda-inspired ales, albeit with very different marketing messages.

In a press release, Coney Island Brewing Company, a Boston Beer subsidiary and part of the company’s Alchemy & Science innovation group, announced the nationwide release of two new hard soda offerings: Hard Ginger Ale and Hard Orange Cream Ale.

Meanwhile, Pabst, via its own Small Town Brewery brand, will follow-up the wildly successful Not Your Father’s Root Beer with the launch Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale in 40 states. Nationwide coverage is expected in early 2016.

But the two companies are taking decidedly different approaches to marketing their new products.

While Boston Beer seems content to play on consumer curiosity by leveraging Coney Island’s circus sideshow identity, Pabst appears to be angling for a more craft-savvy consumer, calling its new product a “gruit-inspired botanical beer brewed with ginger.”

“We’ve worked hard to create this gruit-inspired brew that pays homage to the classic taste Americans know and love,” Small Town front man and founder Tim Kovac said in a press statement.

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As described by Kovac, the new ginger ale has “a high intensity of ginger and lemon, a tinge of black currant, and a light sweetened flavor with woody attributes.”

That line of messaging is consistent with comments Pabst owner and CEO Eugene Kashper made at the Beer Marketer’s Insights conference, held earlier this month in New York City. The goal for Small Town, he said, is to “become America’s Gruit brewer.”

Meanwhile, Boston Beer opted to go all-in on the Coney Island shtick, noting that its newest hard soda will give drinkers “all the thrills of a roller coaster ride, without the price of admission.”

“Coney Island Brewing Company is a virtual funhouse when it comes to experimenting with ingredients and its latest bevvies are no exception,” Boston Beer wrote in a press release.

The biggest question for both companies, however, is whether or not hard soda is here to stay. MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch will both introduce their own offerings in 2016 — Henry’s Hard and Best Damn Root Beer — and MillerCoors believes that flavored beer and “malternatives” could get to 6 percent of total beer category sales within the next 3-5 years.

Those projections are likely based off the successful launch of Not Your Father’s Root Beer, which rolled out nationally in June. Since, it has surpassed stalwart craft brands like Boston Lager, New Belgium Fat Tire and even darling Lagunitas IPA, in dollar sales — generating $75 million through November 1, according market research firm IRI Worldwide.

Currently, the “progressive adult beverage” category, which includes products like Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Twisted Tea, is about 3.25 percent of total beer sales, according to IRI.

Press releases from Pabst and Boston Beer are included below.

Small Town Brewery Announces National Roll-Out of Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale

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WAUCONDA, IL (Nov 17, 2015) — Small Town Brewery (“Small Town”) officially announced today that it will launch Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale, a gruit-inspired botanical beer brewed with ginger. Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale is expected to hit store shelves in 40 states next week, with full nationwide distribution by February 2016.

“The Ginger Ale was a logical next step for us. Alcoholic ginger beer — just like alcoholic root beer — was known as ‘small beer’ and enjoyed great popularity in colonial America,” said Tim Kovac, founder and Master Brewer at Small Town. “We’ve worked hard to create this gruit-inspired brew that pays homage to the classic taste Americans know and love. It has a high intensity of ginger and lemon, a tinge of black currant, and a light sweetened flavor with woody attributes. We are very proud of the finished product — it really delivers on the taste profile that people crave in a ginger ale.”

Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale is Small Town’s second nationally distributed product after the roll-out of Not Your Father’s Root Beer last spring. Sales of Not Your Father’s Root Beer have exceeded expectations, with NYFRB becoming the #1 craft SKU in the United States.1 Just like Not Your Father’s Root Beer, Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale is inspired by the gruit brewing tradition. Gruit is German for “herbs” and is an ancient way of bittering and flavoring beer using roots, spices, flowers, and berries.

“We’re finding that consumers are looking for new and innovative brews within the craft beer category,” said Etienne Houseknecht, Marketing Director at Small Town Brewery. “Gruit-inspired ales are Small Town’s answer to this market need, and we are proud to be leading the creation of a new botanical craft beer segment.”

The idea for Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale came from Kovac’s memories of his grandfather, who brewed ginger beer when Kovac was a boy. To appreciate the authentic flavor and high-quality ingredients used, Kovac recommends drinking the ale chilled and over ice. Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale is also ideal for mixing classic ginger-flavored cocktails like the Moscow Mule or the Dark and Stormy.

Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale will be available in both six-pack bottles and cans and will retail for around $10.99.

About Small Town Brewery

After home brewing for over two decades, Tim Kovac founded Small Town Brewery in 2010. Kovac’s brewing focus developed as he unearthed his unique family brewing history, which dates back to the 17th century. His ancestor’s brewing practices — which included gruit-based recipes that use herbs, flowers, roots and berries — have inspired Small Town’s innovative offerings that pay homage to the roots of modern brewing. Small Town uses unique ingredients to create specialty beers with an unmistakable taste of nostalgia.

For more information on Small Town Brewery and Not Your Father’s availability, please visit us at www.smalltownbrewery.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

A Trip to the Boardwalk: Coney Island Brewing Company Rolls Out Hard Ginger Ale & Hard Orange Cream Ale

Brooklyn, NY (November 23, 2015) – Coney Island Brewing Company, the brand that brought you Coney Island Hard Root Beer earlier this year, is rolling out two new soda inspired ales nationwide: Hard Ginger Ale and Hard Orange Cream Ale.

Coney Island Brewing Company is a virtual funhouse when it comes to experimenting with ingredients and its latest bevvies are no exception. Coney Island Hard Ginger Ale, enhanced with exotic West African ginger, and Hard Orange Cream Ale, with its notes of orange, vanilla and spice, are deviously delicious. The new beverages will give you all the thrills of a roller coaster ride, without the price of admission.

“Coney Island Hard Root Beer, which we launched this summer, has been a huge hit,” said Chris Adams, brewery operations manager. “We wanted to tap into that same magic with our newest products: crafting delicious, nostalgic beverages that put people in a Coney Island boardwalk state of mind, wherever they are, all year long.”

Coney Island Brewing Company’s Hard Ginger Ale and Hard Orange Cream Ale have an ABV of 5.6 and 5.0% respectively, and will be available in bottles nationally. To find where Coney Island’s Hard Ginger Ale and Hard Orange Cream Ale are available near you, visit www.coneyislandbeer.com/find.

About Coney Island Brewing Company:

The mission of Coney Island Brewing is to brew craft beer that captures the spirit, flavor and romance that is Coney Island. For more information, visit us online at: www.coneyislandbeer.com, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @coneyislandbeer. Coney Island Brewing Company is an Alchemy and Science brand, a subsidiary of the Boston Beer Company.

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