Here is the final update from Tenth and Blake Beer Company, courtesy of President and CEO, Tom Cardella. Cardella spoke to BeerPulse late last month.
On Batch 19:
The big on-premise rollout began earlier in the spring and at some point this year, the brand will be available at bars in 40 cities, up from twenty last year. Says Cardella, “We are quite pleased with the response we are getting on Batch 19 though we are being very slow and deliberate with regards to its expansion.” In each market they enter, they aim to get a foothold with at least ten to fifteen bars.
As for the off-premise, a wide rollout won’t take place until, at the earliest, early 2013. Six-packs are available in only a few cities for now including Milwaukee, Denver and Washington DC. The brand is indexed at 150% meaning they have positioned it similarly to Boston Beer’s core offerings, at least from a price standpoint.
They have gone back to a recipe for Killian’s Irish Red that is closer to the original that George Lett brewed in Ireland. Killian’s Stout has debuted in a couple test markets on draft. Cardella calls it a “sessionable” beer and says they will get some learning on it and determine limited/regional rollouts in the future. Since the interview, a label for 12 oz. bottles has received TTB approval.
On Leinenkugel’s Big Eddy Series:
Cardella implicitly references the “Brewprint” or how they fit the craft category into buckets: invitation, exploration and experimentation. Big Eddy, of course, fits into that last bucket. Imperial IPA is next in the series as a summer offering and Baltic Porter will follow it in the fall. They are playing with barrels but nothing will be released on a commercial level in 2012.
On Colorado Native:
Colorado Native did 5,000 barrels last year. They think there is something there and look to get some learning on it next year as well. Key message for this brand is the use of local ingredients.
On Terrapin Beer Company:
The company has a minority stake in Terrapin Beer Company that is below the Brewers Association’s independence threshold so Terrapin is still “craft” according to their definition. What role does the company fit in T&B’s grand plan? Cardella takes a step back…
“We are having a lot of fun with Terrapin. [Co-founders] Spike Buckowski and John Cochran are great guys. I’ve known them now for a year and a half now. We are MillerCoors, yes, but my overarching mission is sort of to teach MillerCoors how to be small. We’ve made progress and I’m quite proud of where we are. Hopefully, in my lifetime, my vision will be achieved. I’m old but I’m not that old.
“Tenth and Blake is a separate division of MillerCoors where it allows us the ability to create focus and build capability against hand-selling, new merchandising and the route-to-market needs in the craft and specialty import business. [...] Part of our strategy is to continue to do [what we did with Crispin, allowing it to run exactly as it did before the acquisition] with new partners.