Craft beverage shelves have seen a shift the last few years, first from bottles to cans, and now from the old standby 12-ouncer to their sleeker yet fuller cousin, the 16-ouncer. Asheville’s Hi-Wire Brewing is one such brewery that dabbled with the format in 2021 with its best-selling flagship Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA as well as the brewery’s staple Hi-Wire Lager. That test paid off with Hi-Wire seeing a 15 percent increase in the rate of sale at grocery stores and retailers seeing 10 percent more dollars added to their bottom lines from just these two Hi-Wire products specifically over the course of the year.
“It’s a point of differentiation in a crowded segment and it catches customers’ eyes,” said Chris McLain, Chain Account Manager for Hi-Wire Brewing, “and in this massive marketplace with 9,000 operating craft breweries, we feel the need to constantly push the envelope to stand out.”
I like that they performed this test with staple brands versus something new and shiny, as it provides a firmer basis of comparison versus historic expectations.
This year, Hi-Wire is going all and transitioning its entire lineup of canned beer including flagships, seasonals, specialties, and one-off releases to 16 oz. cans exclusively. Even Hi-Wire’s twelve-packs will move to the 16 oz. format.
“There are very few craft breweries in the country doing six-packs and twelve-packs in 16 oz. cans, and Hi-Wire is the first independent craft brewery to launch this package innovation in our nine state market,” according to Brian Laggis, Hi-Wire Brewing’s Sales Director. Beginning immediately, Hi-Wire Brewing’s new 16 oz. six-packs and twelve-packs will be distributed throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia, and Indiana.
Does any of this have to do with staying ahead of supply chain issues seen in canning right now? The brewery tells us the format switch won’t “change any concerns there,” but they have been lucky thus far with their can supplier.
“It’s helped a lot for us to plan each of the last couple years way ahead of time – usually about six months – and really pick our spots,” says digital marketing coordinator Shanda Crowe. “We’re very deliberate about what we think we can realistically get produced, and we plan our year that way. For the most part, we’ve been able to lock in what we need.”
The Asheville craft brewer has also just released Mountain Water Citrus Splash Easy Drinking Ale, or as Hi-Wire refers to it, ‘the beer to share with your seltzer friends.’ “While loads of other breweries are making seltzers, we decided to stick to what we know, but we recognize that people want lighter, flavorful, and easy to toss back drinks,” McLain said of the concept for Mountain Water. “Instead of trying to fight against the growing sea of seltzer, Mountain Water is making its own waves.” At a crushable 4.5% ABV, Hi-Wire’s newest year-round flagship comes off bright and citrus-forward from additions of lemon and lime with an energizing crispness. “There is really nothing like it in the beer category,” added Laggis.
Mountain Water Citrus Splash (4.5% ABV) is available now throughout Hi-Wire Brewing’s nine-state distribution footprint in six-packs of, yes, 16 oz. cans.