Henry Weinhard’s Gourmet Soda delivers pop

Molson Coors’ embrace of beyond-beer products has brought to market winners like ZOA and La Colombe. But a less-heralded brand, Henry Weinhard’s Gourmet Soda, has been reaping impressive gains this year that underscore the potential of Molson Coors’ growing non-alcohol portfolio.

Made with real cane sugar, Henry’s is sold in four flavors: Root Beer, Orange Cream, Vanilla Cream and Black Cherry Cream. A refreshed website and packaging have helped it compete against more established gourmet soda brands, giving Molson Coors another reliable player on its non-alc roster, says Matt Stallman, senior portfolio manager for non-alcohol and emerging growth.

“We’ve got a great brand here that’s been performing really well,” he says. “We are continuing to expand and grow distribution. Our repeat rates outpace all other gourmet sodas in the category. You have this combination of when we get into new places and onto shelves, and consumers try us, they keep coming back.”

It’s been a winning combination that’s helped grow the brand 26% in 2021, according to IRI, with growth continuing into 2022, where it’s up 9% versus a year ago and 11% in the last four weeks.

Molson Coors is competing in the $244 million gourmet soda segment with a popular product that’s finding its way into more retailers in new markets. In the past year, Henry’s has grown its footprint beyond its traditional home in the Pacific Northwest, finding a foothold in markets such as Texas, Chicagoland and the Great Lakes region.

“It’s growth on top of growth, which is hard to do,” Stallman says, adding that Molson Coors expects to continue that trajectory as Henry’s enters new markets.

“What’s great about this brand is that it has been part of our portfolio for a number of years, and we are able to make decisions that allow us to grow it in a smart way. It allows us to play in new occasions that we weren’t able to play in before,” Stallman says.

And, he says, Henry’s – a brand that can trace its legacy back to Prohibition – has benefited from the success of Molson Coors’ growing focus on its non-alc brands, which include ZOA and La Colombe, which have helped Molson Coors not only establish its non-alc credentials, but learn how to position brands in the marketplace.

“With the development of this non-alc team and our strategic mission to become an around-the-clock beverage company, Henry’s is getting more attention,” Stallman says. “What we discovered is we have this really interesting brand, and when consumers try it, it sticks. They keep coming back.”