Caitlin Landesberg of Sufferfest Beer Company

December 9, 2019
In 2012, Caitlin lLandesberg was shopping for a beer that kept her health-conscious priorities in mind, but she came up empty. “As a picky consumer, I didn’t see a beer in the market that gave me everything I wanted,” says Landesberg. “Something with intentionally-chosen, beneficial ingredients that could complement my lifestyle.” 
Instead of giving up, this athlete and entrepreneur went to work. “I set out to develop the beer I wanted to see in the world: low-cal, but still rich in flavor and complexity. Gluten-removed, but still great-tasting. Unconventional ingredients, but never gimmicky.” 
And so, Sufferfest Beer Company was born. The brewery was named for the slang term used to describe an activity requiring great endurance. Landesberg and her Sufferfest team create “functional” beverages that feature natural ingredients with nutrients that complement athletes and their active lifestyles. Now, having joined forces with Sierra Nevada, Sufferfest is available to even more consumers. 
Heady Times sat down with Landesberg to find out more about Sufferfest, their beers and how they’re creating more and more “Sufferfans”. 
A passion for homebrewing kicked off the Sufferfest journey. “I started homebrewing in 2012, and I was immediately hooked. I dug into the science behind the process and the ingredients, and it all started to make sense to me.”
Her first few batches were a learning experience. “I’ll admit that my first batches of beer were selfish: I wanted to make the perfect finish-line beer for me and my friends. But from there, I found myself stumbling upon more people, a movement if you will, of people, who like me, want more from their beer. My mindset shifted and the goal got bigger: I wanted to create the go-to finish line beer for active and healthy consumers. Today, I’m proud to say that we’re well on our way to achieving that goal.”
Loyalty among millennial consumers goes way beyond a beer’s flavor profile. “Millennials thrive on innovation and choice. What truly drives loyalty with these picky consumers is alignment of values; brands with strong POVs around sustainability and social issues are the ones driving long-term consumer loyalty.”
Sufferfest is one of only a handful of breweries to be a certified B Corporation. “Being a B Corp. means that it’s about more than just the beer; we hold ourselves to the practice of balancing greater purpose with profit. We elect to be audited so that we remain accountable for operating with the highest standards across the board – sustainability, community, governance – it’s certainly not the easy way to do business, but it’s the right way.”
Her partnership with Sierra Nevada started with a happy accident. “I met Sierra Nevada CEO Jeff White at a conference by chance, and we got to chatting. He believes in this movement, this growing segment of active & healthy consumers looking for something different from their food and drink. I have always admired Sierra Nevada – not only for their world-class beers – but also for their approach to doing business. They have a zero-waste facility and were composting before it was cool!”
Sierra is helping Sufferfest expand in leaps and bounds. “While Sufferfest operates more like an outdoor gear brand, Sierra Nevada quite obviously brings the beer experience, so we’re very grateful to be in their capable hands as we hit markets nationwide.”
That wider distribution is creating hordes of “Sufferfans”. “[We’re] building upon this movement of hardcore Sufferfans and meeting them where they sweat: at the finish line of their mud runs, at their favorite taproom after a workout or simply at their local grocery store when they’re looking for something a little different.”
New innovations are on the way from Sufferfest. “We rolled out with our variety 6-pack in order to give consumers a chance to try us out and find their new favorite beer. Additionally, many new markets are seeing our gold medal-winning Repeat Kolsch: low-carb, low-cal and brewed with bee pollen (an ingredient you’re more likely to see on top of an acai bowl). Next year, we’ll FINALLY give our community the beer they’ve been demanding for a while: a low-cal IPA, done the Sufferfest way. Stay tuned for the newness and follow us on Instagram @sufferfestbeer!”
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