Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and founded in 1981, Craft Brew Alliance has grouped together three of the oldest and most well-respected craft brewers from Oregon, Washington and Hawaii to form a company with the resources and industry know-how needed to succeed in the ultra competitive adult beverage space.
Redhook Ale Brewery, founded in Seattle in 1981, is Washington’s largest craft brewery; Widmer Brothers Brewing, founded in 1984, takes the same title in Oregon. Kona Brewing Company, founded a decade later, is Hawaii’s oldest and largest craft brewery. BREW also reaches out to the health-conscious beer drinker with its Ommission brand, the first craft beer in the U.S. focused exclusively on brewing craft beer with traditional ingredients – including malted barley – which is gluten free. The last brew in the company’s current lineup is Square Mile Cider, a tribute to early American settlers who purchased the first plots of land in the Pacific Northwest.
BREW operates five breweries and five pub restaurants across the U.S., and earlier this year earned the “Craft Beer Company of the Year” award from Hooters of America. Another significant milestone for BREW was its partnership with Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) to utilize the “King of Beer’s” behemoth national distribution network.
Building on its strength in national chains and continuing to activate distinctive retail promotions, and continuing to nurture its significant partnership with Anheuser-Busch InBev, BREW has a clearly defined growth strategy for the new year.
In 2016, BREW plans on building out its Emerging Business division and expanding with new strategic partners that increase its relevance in key beer geographies while leveraging the company’s national footprint. The plan is already starting to unfurl, as the company’s two recent partners, Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Cisco Brewers, have added North Carolina and Massachusetts to its home markets.
BREW will continue to build on its strategic partnerships with Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Cisco Brewers through alternating proprietorships and master distribution agreements that will enable both growing breweries to meet increasing demand in their respective core markets of North Carolina and the northeast.
Redhook Brewery, which celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2016, will continue to focus on its legacy position as the “Granddaddy of Craft” in its home state of Washington. Redhook unveiled classic new packaging for its flagship beers Longhammer IPA and ESB, as well as soon-to-be-released American Pale Ale, which will launch nationally, and ESL, extra special lager, which will launch in Washington. Redhook also announced a new seasonal line-up: Blackhook, Summerhook and Winterhook, which will launch nationally and carry the bold packaging design. Redhook will soon be announcing the location for its new brewpub in Seattle, a move that brings the iconic brand back to its roots.
Widmer Brothers Brewing will continue building on the momentum achieved through the brand’s renewed focus on Hefe, which remains Oregon’s favorite craft beer. Widmer Brothers also revealed that it would begin offering Hefe in cans, initially in Oregon, to celebrate the beer’s 30th anniversary in 2016 and meet the increased demand for its iconic American-style wheat in a more portable package. The brand also teased a new dark beer, Steel Bridge Porter, to launch in 6-packs and draft in Oregon and Washington. The new porter will round out a core line-up that includes Hefe, Upheaval IPA, Replay IPA and Drop Top Amber.
Now a Top 10 national craft beer brand, Kona Brewing Co. will bring its unique brand of “Liquid Aloha” to life through a new television campaign, as well as a pint, bottle or can of Kona Brewing flagships Longboard Lager and Big Wave Island Ale. In 2016, Kona will bring back its popular Aloha Series, which includes Koko Brown, Lemongrass Luau and Pipeline Porter nationally. Additionally, Kona’s Wailua Wheat will return to California. In Hawaii, Kona will launch its iconic Lavaman Red in package for the first time and continue its Makana Series, which connects Kona Brewing with local charities that support Hawaii’s sustainability and pristine environment.
Omission Beer will continue to capitalize on the growing trend among consumers to avoid gluten. The brand will invest in growing awareness and distribution for its category leading flagships, Omission Pale Ale and Omission Lager. Additionally, the brand will continue working with corporate partners such as Wanderlust, a health and wellness event series, to bring the great taste of Omission to consumers looking to live a healthier lifestyle.
BREW will also continue to partner with the Chive’s Resignation Brewery and its 30+ million monthly online visitors to grow KCCO’s (Keep Calm and Chive On) Gold Lager, with an emphasis on its home market of Texas and the military.
Square Mile, which has grown to be the No. 2 hard cider brand in the Pacific Northwest and a Top 10 craft cider brand, will expand distribution in its existing core markets in the west with the brand’s Original and hopped-version Spur & Vine.
Financially, BREW’s growing market saturation appears to be paying off. In 2014, the company reported net sales of $200 million and net income of $3.1 million, an increase of 12 percent and 55 percent, respectfully, over the previous year’s results. Analysts predict BREW will report net sales of $211 million in 2015, and if the company’s aggressive growth strategy is any implication is that it will easily deepen its roots in the $19.6 billion U.S. craft beer market.
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