Don’t stay stuck in your rut! Be open to new things! This is what I yelled out loud to myself in the Lyft ride to Funkwerks’ distribution party here in Cleveland, Ohio. Sorry, Shemeiah. You see, unbeknownst to the great folks at RadCraft, the PR firm that sent me an invite to the shindig, I’m not that into saisons, and Funkwerks is a brewery totally dedicated to developing, perfecting and spreading the gospel of saisons. But I wanted to help share the news of the Fort Collins, Colo. brewery’s debut in Ohio (and Kentucky) this week, so I went. Now that it is aligned with Brooklyn Brewery and 21st Amendment, Funkwerks definitely has an interesting opportunity to grow its brand:
“We believe our focus on niche styles has contributed to our growth in more saturated beer climates,” said Funkwerks co-owner Brad Lincoln. “We are also a much smaller company than most consumers think that we are, certainly in comparison to many of the larger craft breweries. We still have room to grow our production and there are many untapped distribution areas. However, the competition in the beer market is fierce and we want to be smart about our distribution plan so we are conscientious when choosing new territories to expand into. Our plan is to align our distribution footprint with our partners, Brooklyn and 21st Amendment, who currently distribute to Ohio and Kentucky. We are looking forward to working with Heidelberg Distributing Company and we are excited to share our saisons and our light, tart, kettle sours to many different palates in these new markets.”
Before summer, Lincoln says they plan to launch in a couple more states. “In 2018, we upgraded our packaging line and added new equipment to allow us to brew and package more beer than we ever have before,” he says. “These additions will help us prepare for expansion of our distribution without overexerting our brewery and team.”
The tasting event featured the four core beers Funkwerks will be shipping across its now 10-state footprint — Raspberry Provincial, Saison, Tropic King, and their newly released White. I was ready to try them, smile and, if needed, lie. But then: I totally loved them. Saisons! Who knew? I was most skeptical about the White heading in, and ended up enjoying it the most and got a full pour. Turns out, I was the perfect person to invite. This is why distribution events matter — just get your beers into the hands of newbies, skeptics and media idiots and see what new connections build from there. This is Funkwerks’ plan, at least.
“Over time, we hope to align our footprint with that of 21st Amendment and Brooklyn for the support of the combined salesforce,” Lincoln says. “We have found much more success in territories where we have manpower on the ground selling our beer. The only reason we can expand is because we can count on the strength of our sales team, without which we would not be entering into new markets. In the future, we hope to combine shipping and centralized warehouses to lower our individual carbon footprint and get smaller shipments of our beer in places wouldn’t be able to without combining shipping with our sales partners.”
Those Funkwerks beers are your first beers to know this week. Below are a few more, plus a cider (be open to new things!). Please send me your own beer news at [email protected], and, apparently, invite me places and get me drunk. Drinking is believing.
New Belgium and Primus Microcerveceria release their collaboration nationally
In response to national demand after its 2018 launch in select cities, New Belgium Brewing and Mexico City’s Primus Microcerveceria announced the national release of Mural Agua Fresca Cerveza. With only 110 calories and less than 1 gram of sugar per serving, Mural is now available in 12 oz. cans and on draft across the country. Pouring a visually stunning deep rosé, Mural Agua Fresca Cerveza begins with welcoming aromas of watermelon, hibiscus and lime that complement a sweet, slightly tart taste with a light mouthfeel and crisp finish. This 4% ABV collaboration inspired by the refreshing, fruit-infused Agua Fresca drinks popular throughout Mexico defies traditional beer categories; instead it’s an innovative new style that evokes a true taste of Mexico City.
“Mexico’s history is a mural itself: a colorful illustration of its thirst for revolution,” said Rebeca Dovali Galvan, one of three cousins who own and operate Mexico City-based craft brewery Primus Microcerveceria. “Mural Agua Fresca Cerveza depicts in its flavors the Mexican beverage revolution. Our country is tired of being known for Mexican-style lagers.”
Cascade Brewing presents offerings for brunch and BBQ
Cascade Brewing has announced two upcoming bottle and draft releases in March: Brunch Line on March 8, and Tropical Embers on March 15. Both projects will be available in 500ml bottles and on draft at Cascade’s two Portland pubs and through distribution.
In Portland, brunch lines are as much an institution as brunch itself, so Cascade made a beer dedicated to the rain-soaked hordes of brunch-goers who patiently stand in line for their weekend fare. Inspired by the mimosa cocktail, Brunch Line features sour wheat and blond ales aged in white wine barrels for up to two years with Willamette Valley-grown Chardonnay grapes, then infused with fresh orange zest.
Tropical Embers is a limited release blend made in partnership with Beachwood Blendery and features sour wheat ale brewed with smoked malt—a tribute to Beachwood’s reputation for renowned BBQ—then aged in oak barrels for up to 18 months with additions of whole pineapple and mango. This limited collaboration project offers a unique combination of wood smoke aroma and tropical fruit flavor.
2 Towns Ciderhouse adds its take on pink lemonade to year-round lineup
Released mid-February, 2 Towns Ciderhouse‘s Easy Squeezy, a pink lemonade inspired cider, stepped into the limelight as the newest addition to its year-round line-up. Easy Squeezy combines Fresh-Pressed Northwest Apples, Raspberries & Meyer Lemons for a thirst-quenching citrus cider. 2 Towns Ciderhouse initially debuted this cider as Easy Peasy last summer and due to its success, has rebranded to fit into their year round offerings.
“This cider is a a great mixture of everything the West coast has to offer. We have Washington grown apples, Oregon grown raspberries, and California Meyer Lemons, “ said Lee Larsen, CEO and co-founder of 2 Towns. “We think this will really round out our year-round series.”
Currently it is available in cans, bottles, 1/2 bbl & 1/6 bbl kegs. 2 Towns will be including Easy Squeezy in its 12 can-variety pack alongside BrightCider, Made Marion and Pacific Pineapple. Easy Squeezy will be available to distributors throughout Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii, Chicago and parts of Minnesota and Montana.
Boston Beer’s Marathon Brewing releases a beer for athletes
Marathon Brewing, a new endeavor from The Boston Beer Company, launched 26.2 Brew. This golden, hazy ale is being pitched as an offering to athletes as a reward for their hard work, something as satisfying as their accomplishments. Brewed with Himalayan sea salt and coriander, 26.2 Brew provides drinkers a crisp body and refreshing finish with 4.0% ABV, 9g carbs and only 120 calories. As consumers increasingly seek wellness-minded activities and better-for-you options, 26.2 Brew was developed by Shelley Smith, a brewer, marathon runner and triathlete, to provide purpose and balance for drinkers seeking more.
“As someone who loves beer and running, having the opportunity to brew a beer that helps runners celebrate their hard work was a passion project for me,” says Shelley Smith, Advanced Cicerone and Manager of Research & Product Innovation at The Boston Beer Company. “Understanding what is important to runners is what made brewing this beer different from what is currently available. While most brewers are stripping flavor to hit a certain calorie mark, we focused on brewing a beer that not only fit what runners were looking for, but also delivered a great taste.”