Tenth and Blake Beer Company President and CEO, Tom Cardella, shared an update on both its shandy and cider business during a call last month.
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing produced around 200,000 barrels of Summer Shandy in 2011. Illustrating Shandy’s strength in Leinenkugel’s core Upper Midwest market, they did over 200 caps in downtown Chicago alone last summer.
Cardella says it will be “significantly bigger” this year. They have seen exceptional distributor interest from all over the country and Shandy is growing into “Leinenkugel’s true national brand.” For the four-week period ending April 15, the brand was up 122% year-over-year in case volume across SIG-tracked food, drug and convenience channels. It will stay on shelves through September when Shandy’s first sister brand will be introduced: Leinenkugel’s Lemon Berry Shandy. Drinkers will be able to find Shandy, in some form, on the shelf year-round going forward.
Another business that is young and growing in the U.S. is cider. Cardella has a unique position, overseeing both the nation’s fastest-growing shandy brand and the recently-acquired Crispin Cider Company, which grew 200% itself last year.
Cardella thinks that the shandy market will pull “about even” with the cider market this year. Cider is a more mature market in the U.S. than Shandy. He cites figures that the cider market was a little under 400,000 barrels and 30% growth in 2011. Both markets are very young here relative to the rest of the world though.
Says Cardella, “Cider has maybe not the big burst growth that Shandy has but has a steady, robust growth opportunity ahead of it. Cider would be 5% of the beer category, on average, in more-developed beer countries. The anomaly is the UK where the cider business is 20%. The cider industry in the U.S. just hasn’t been overly creative from a marketing or liquid standpoint.”
That is where the Crispin Cider Company acquisition comes into play. Cardella likens the cidermaker’s portfolio to some of the craft breweries out there. Crispin has a wide range of brands and styles from its core “blue line” to its artisan line to its Fox Barrel line and so on. The quality is there, too, he says.
“Most large-scale production cider is made from concentrate whereas our cider is made from 100% unpasteurized juice. Obviously, we feel that provides the basis for a good consumer experience.”
Technical and engineering work wrapped up at Crispin’s facility in Colfax, California, in April. They improved the bottling line, added a small kegging line and added fermentation capacity. With that work completed, Crispin is now positioned to get around 100,000 barrels of production this year. The team is now looking at expanding Colfax or possibly adding a second cidery. Time is ticking.
Says Cardella, “All of a sudden, cider is starting to move and explode along the lines of the craft industry.”