Lines between beer and non-alc bevs are blurring rapidly. Bev entrepreneurs who already scored big in NA space are entering malt bevs. New entries capitalize on non-alc trends, especially health & wellness. Innovation becomes more and more critical to beer, as well as related malt bevs, kombuchas, hard seltzers, etc. And everybody, it seems, is going after Michelob Ultra. One of more intriguing prospects: Crook and Marker. Founder Ben Weiss previously built Bai brand, then sold to Dr Pepper Snapple Group for $1.7 bil. With Crook and Marker, he turns his sights on fast-growing hard seltzer space in alc bevs. Brand launched in FL and CA first. Crook and Marker has many contemporary cues: zero sugar, gluten-free, lower ABV and calories (4.2 and 80 respectively), ancient grains, no artificial sweeteners, etc. One usually skeptical distrib source called it “can’t miss.” Time will tell. Flying Embers launched alcoholic kombucha on West Coast and following that up with probiotic beer and Light & Live low-carb beer. Founder Bill Moses previously built up probiotic, kombucha and drinking vinegar brand called Kevita. He sold that to Pepsi. These 2 bev entrepreneurs come in well-capitalized, having won already, likely looking to score again. Will other bev entrepreneurs follow suit?
Two other notable recent plays on “fitness” beers. SF-based Sufferfest brings suite of electrolyte-intensive brews, selling well in SF. And Athletic, organic NA brewer, has NA taproom in CT. Both pitched as post-workout bevs, unabashedly inspired by Michelob Ultra. Boston Beer’s 2019 round of innovations focused on health & wellness, ceo Dave Burwick said on conference call. Tho not yet officially announced, Consumer Edge reported one is “fitness” beer and Boston will also intro alcoholic kombucha, we hear. Stay tuned. Last issue, we wrote about big funding for Heineken 0.0, FIFCO’s Pura, and AB’s Bon & Viv (seltzer). Creative foment that exploded across the non-alc bev landscape in recent yrs is starting to erupt in beer. There will likely be lots more to come.