FIFCO? Yep. It’s the new name for North American Breweries, which is owned by Florida Ice and Farm Co. (FIFCO), based in Heredia, Costa Rica. FIFCO USA is headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., and it’s the umbrella company for quite a few famous beer brands — The Genesee Brewing Co. in Rochester (one of the oldest breweries in America); The Magic Hat Brewing Co. in Burlington, Vt.; Portland Brewing Co. in Portland; and Pyramid Brewing in Seattle. FIFCO is one of the top 10 brewers in the United States, and the company contract brews for other entities while also owning exclusive rights to import and market the Labatt family of brands and the Imperial brand of beer in the United States.
FIFCO USA also owns Seagram’s Escapes, which has experienced nine consecutive years of growth, according to the company; its Seagram’s Escapes Spiked is the No. 3 new flavored malt beverage franchise in the total U.S. beer category for 2018.
Now that we’ve reminded you of all that: FIFCO USA recently held its 2018 national sales meeting in Buffalo where it shared its 2019 business plans for its portfolio of beer and “Beyond Beer” alcoholic beverages. We’ll just concentrate on the beer in this post.
Labatt USA to open innovation brewery
Labatt USA will open its first innovation brewery in the United States, called the Labatt Brew House, in Buffalo N.Y.’s historic Cobblestone District. The brewery will offer an immersive experience for customers to taste and offer feedback on new beers, influencing which styles could become the next big Labatt brew. The brewery is slated to open November 2019.
Labatt Blue to launch Labatt Blue Citra
Labatt Blue announced plans to launch Labatt Blue Citra, a hoppy session lager with 4.7 percent ABV. Labatt Blue Citra is brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops and Pale Malt, giving it a bright hop aroma with the clean, crisp finish of a lager. The beer will be available on draft in November and will be released in 12-, 16- and 24-oz cans starting February 2019.
Labatt Blue and Labatt Blue Light get packaging refresh
In early 2019, both Labatt Blue and Labatt Blue Light will have an entirely new look and feel, with a packaging refresh that features a modern and premium design.
Genesee Brewery celebrates 140th anniversary
2018 marked a milestone 140th anniversary for New York State’s oldest brewery. In addition to celebrating its heritage throughout the year on packaging, social media and events at the Genesee Brew House, Genesee also focused on solidifying the future of the brewery. Mid-summer, a $48.5 million brewery modernization that created a world-class brewery was completed. The new brewery allows for faster innovation, better efficiency and high-quality standards. Plans to roll out new packaging for heritage brands begin in Spring 2019.
Cream Ale to debut a new look
The No. 1 best-selling cream ale in the United States will roll out a completely new packaging refresh and campaign in early 2019. This American original, first launched in 1960, has received multiple awards over the years. Cream Ale is a 10-time Great American Beer Festival winner, three-time World Beer Cup medal winner, and an International Beer Festival silver medalist. The focus in 2019 will be to expand Cream Ale to more markets to unlock its full potential.
Genesee Brew House wins awards and shifts to cans
The Genesee Brew House Dark Chocolate Scotch Ale was widely celebrated in 2018, bringing home a gold medal from the World Beer Cup and a silver medal from the Great American Beer Festival. Now, the award-winning brand is spreading its wings outside of Rochester. Genesee Brew House has recently rolled out a new graphic can with more emphasis on style and ingredients, and its new Juicy IPA hit the shelves just last week.
The Magic Hat Brewing Co. expands music collaborations
The Magic Hat brand introduced an expanded Music Collaboration Series featuring DropKick Murphys and two additional band partnerships. Magic Hat also plans to expand distribution of its award-winning Vermont innovation beers through a variety pack program. Flagship beer, Magic Hat #9, will celebrate its 25th birthday in 2019.
Portland Brewing Co. helps keep Portland weird
Rebranding efforts yielded positive results with double-digit increases in rate of sale for MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale and Ink & Roses IPA six-packs. The brand shared a sneak preview for a new series of beers helping to “Keep Portland Weird” in 2019.
Pyramid Brewing Co. releases new IPA
Building on the success of Outburst IPA, the No. 1 Imperial IPA in the Northwest, Pyramid is releasing Yeah Baby! IPA made with CRYO Hops in 12-oz cans and draft this fall. Pyramid’s Coast Day Hazy Dry-Hopped Lager will expand to 12-oz cans and draft in January 2019.