- May 15, 2018
You can’t expect to be at the center of the American beer scene for over three decades without hitting a few speed bumps. With depletions and shipments both down double-digits in 2017, Boston Beer, the maker of Sam Adams and Twisted Tea, has come roaring back thanks to key innovations that have delighted consumers. This past April, Boston Beer’s earnings for the first quarter of 2018 showed a dramatic turnaround. This company, regarded by many as the catalyst for the American craft beer revolution, has posted double-digit revenue and shipment growth – topping 15%.
What has driven this feverish growth? In one word: innovation. Boston Beer’s mission has always been to bring the finest example of any product to consumers across the country, like the sessionable and refreshing Sam ’76 and Sam Adams New England IPA, the company’s take on the hottest, hazy IPA style. Then there are Angry Orchard ciders and all the new, hard seltzers & flavored malt beverages (FMBs) from Truly and Twisted Tea.
The stars have all aligned and Boston Beer’s innovative portfolio appeals to a variety of legal age consumers – not just beer drinkers, so the upside for growth is huge.
Angry Orchard’s big bet for 2018, its new Rosé Cider, is the number one innovative product in the malt-based beverage space, a category that includes beer as well as ciders and FMBs. The number two product innovation?
That would be Sam ’76, Sam Adam’s new ale/lager hybrid that was introduced earlier this year. Sam Adams has also entered the white-hot, hazy IPA category with their New England IPA, a medium-bodied, unfiltered beer featuring a big punch of citrus juiciness.
All three releases, which many thought were risky moves, have resonated with consumers, especially younger demographics. “Angry Orchard Rosé Cider is a great example of how beverage trends in one category can inspire innovation in other spaces,” says Angry Orchard’s Head Cider Maker Ryan Burk. “We were inspired by the light and fruit-forward elements of rosé wine, which, like cider, is derived from harvested and fermented fruit.” After experimenting with small batches at the Angry Orchard Cidery in New York’s Hudson River Valley, Burk and company finally found that perfect balance, one that has really resonated with cider fans. “We’re very happy with the reception that [Angry Orchard] Rosé has had with our drinkers and this early excitement is a testament to all the hard work that went into developing this recipe.”
Sam ’76 was the result of similar, outside-the-box thinking, that ultimately paid off. “Our goal was to create something that hadn’t been done before,” says Samuel Adams brewer Jennifer Glanville. “We wanted to create something incredibly flavorful and aromatic, yet completely refreshing; a beer that really combines the best of both [lager and ale] worlds.” After experimenting for more than a year and testing over 60 iterations, Glanville and her team created Sam ’76.
Risk taking, in the name of striking gold with a new style or product launch, is in Boston Beer’s DNA. And it is what has led to their recent success. “We’re always looking for ways to innovate and dream up the next beer or beer style, like we did with Sam ’76,” Glanville says. “It’s what drives us and keeps our skills sharp.”
But it’s not only Sam and Angry Orchard’s innovative streak that is leading the charge for Boston Beer. Both Twisted Tea and Truly Spiked & Sparkling are industry leaders, whose products command consistent consumer pull. Truly in particular has tapped into a brand-new market: health-conscious millennials. “Drinkers are looking for beverages that taste great and naturally fit in with a healthy lifestyle,” says Casey O’Neill of Boston Beer’s Innovation Team.
The Name of Boston Beer’s Game is Innovation
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Angry Orchard Rosé
This year’s most innovative product, Angry Orchard Rosé Cider is made from rare, red-fleshed apples imported from France. Currently available in 12 oz. bottles and draught, Angry Orchard Rosé will also be available in 12 and 16 oz. cans this summer.
Samuel Adam’s ale/lager hybrid is as revolutionary as the patriotic brewer himself. Sam ’76 showcases the slight fruitiness of an ale with the balanced drinkability of a lager.
Samuel Adams New England IPA
Hazy IPA is the trendy style that beer geeks are known to line up for. Samuel Adams’ interpretation, developed in their Boston nano brewery, is a stellar example.
These refreshing hard seltzers are now exclusively sold in cans. This portable package highlights Truly’s natural flavors and low-calorie content, perfect for those with active lifestyles.