Yes, the beer market has been in decline for quite some time. While craft beer sales still continue to slowly grow, beer consumption overall is down, and that trend looks to continue. In response, we’ve seen great interest from beer makers of all sizes to experiment with other beverage categories — from non-alcoholic marijuana beers to hard seltzers. One of the biggest craft rollups in America, Craft Brew Alliance, recently announced its intentions to open up a standalone business unit called the pH Experiment dedicated to “explor[ing] opportunities outside of beer.”
Craft Brew Alliance or CBA is a publicly traded craft brewery group headquartered in Portland, owning regional craft brands including Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Cisco Brewers, Omission Brewing Co., Redhook Brewery, Square Mile Cider Co., Widmer Brothers Brewing and Wynwood Brewing Co. Anheuser-Busch owns 31.4 percent of CBA, and the companies are important distribution partners. Anheuser-Busch even has the option to buy CBA entirely by this August according to this distribution and brewing partnership. Everyone’s waiting to see.
Expanding its portfolio and maybe its allure, CBA’s pH Experiment is looking to tap into resources, distribution capability and consumer research insights to quickly develop, test and evaluate a range of new products in select markets across the United States. The company is specifically working with the Yale Center for Customer Insights and global consultancy Prophet to do that research. The first new product will launch in spring, and it will be called the Pre Aperitivo Spritz. Developed by CBA Innovation Brewmaster Thomas Bleigh, Pre Aperitivo Spritz is a 6.6 percent ABV dry, classic Italian aperitivo with notes of herbaceous bitterness. Available in 12-oz six-pack cans and clear bottles, Pre is naturally gluten free with only one gram of sugar. From the press release:
“During focus groups with drinkers, ‘Aperol Spritz’ was named as a favorite summer beverage, ranking #2 behind only beer, so we knew there was an opportunity to do something unique,” said Bleigh. “With Pre, I created an infusion of herbs and spices that I believe really deliver on a classic aperitivo experience.”
That’s just the beginning. The pH Experiment is targeting $25 million in revenue by 2025.
“What’s particularly exciting about the pH Experiment is that we’re mining a vast trove of recently acquired consumer insights and tapping into the strength of CBA’s infrastructure to anticipate and quickly deliver on emerging needs,” said Andy Thomas, CEO of CBA. “With the pH Experiment, we now have the vehicle to unleash our innovation engine and create relevant new products and experiences for today’s drinkers, as we continue focusing on increasing topline growth and shareholder value.”