The four Molson Coors U.S. craft partners booked another year in which they outperformed the craft segment as a whole and within their respective markets, according to a company analysis of Nielsen data for 2019.
Saint Archer Brewing, Terrapin Beer Co., Hop Valley Brewing and Revolver Brewing combined to post 16.2% volume growth for the year, compared to 0.1% growth in the overall craft segment, according to year-to-date Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through Dec. 28.
Including Saint Archer Gold, the new above-premium light beer that debuted in four test markets in 2019, the craft breweries under Molson Coors’ Tenth and Blake portfolio booked 18.9% volume growth, per Nielsen.
While a relatively small component of the U.S. beer category on a volume basis, the continued success of the four brewers “underscores that we’ve got a proven model to grow craft companies without taking away the soul of who they are and how they got here,” says Paul Verdu, vice president of Tenth and Blake.
“We have a fantastic ongoing collaboration between the craft breweries, Tenth and Blake, and Molson Coors,” Verdu says. “The last thing we want to do is change what allowed these craft brewers to get to where they are; we simply want to plug them into a model that works and help them accelerate their success.”
Terrapin turned in the biggest growth for 2019, up 22.2%, per Nielsen. That’s compared to 1.2% growth in overall craft in the Southeast region and a 1.1% contraction in craft volume in its home market in Georgia.
Saint Archer, meanwhile, grew volume 14.7% for the year, excluding sales of Saint Archer Gold, data show. That’s compared with a 3.7% decline in craft volume in California and a 13.3% drop in its home San Diego market.
Hop Valley (+9.6%) and Revolver (+6.5%) also grew in markets that posted declines in craft overall.
The craft portfolio’s growth comes without widespread market expansion; while Terrapin expanded more broadly in one state in 2019, only Revolver moved into new states, says Ed Novak, director of sales and strategy for Tenth and Blake.
Instead, sales teams have been able to secure more-robust distribution across existing markets, particularly in chain accounts. The brands also embraced 19.2-ounce and 16-ounce singles, boosting sales in the convenience channel and gaining entry into more arenas, stadiums and event venues. More importantly, Novak says, the portfolio has balanced smart risks and innovation with maintaining a strong core of flagship brands.
Hop Valley, for instance, has poured more time and energy behind developing and expanding its fast-growing IPA line made with cryo hops.
Terrapin’s 10-year-old flagship Hopsecutioner IPA posted growth “comfortably in the double digits,” and the brewery has found a winner in its Luau Krunkles IPA.
Saint Archer continues to revamp its portfolio with new beer and packaging innovations led by its 50/50 IPA variety pack, which was the No. 4 new item released in the Southern California market in 2019, per Nielsen.
And Revolver has branched out over the past two years beyond its flagship Blood & Honey with a new Mexican lager called Mi Cheve and two IPAs: Full-Tang IPA and Hop Device, a hazy.
The data do not include brands from AC Golden, a growing craft brand that joined Tenth and Blake in 2019, or Leinenkugel’s, which moved under the Tenth and Blake banner earlier this month.
“We know each one of these breweries are different, and we have to share the entrepreneurial mindset with our partners,” Novak says. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all structure, and we have to stay nimble to allow our craft partners to do what they do best.”
Verdu says his teams are focused on long-term sustainable growth and incubating brands to hand off to the larger Molson Coors organization. Saint Archer Gold, for example, transitioned out of Tenth and Blake this month after it expanded nationally. The Italian import Peroni Nastro Azzuro also moved out of Tenth and Blake after posting 64.3% sales volume growth in 2019.
“Our track record speaks for itself. We’ve now transitioned Blue Moon, Saint Archer Gold and Peroni to the larger organization,” Verdu says. “Our goal is to find what’s next, and we look forward to more transitions to come.”