Craft Brew Alliance launches new business unit to anticipate trends

US beer maker Craft Brew Alliance is forming a new business unit, pH Experiment, dedicated to creating, incubating and accelerating growth in new products.

The unit is the evolution of CBA’s innovation team and its pH Experiment beverage initiative, which launched in 2018 as a litmus test to explore opportunities outside of beer.

Tapping into CBA’s distribution capabilities and consumer research insights, the unit will develop, test, and evaluate a range of new products in select markets across the US.

Pre Aperitivo Spritz will be the first new product introduced from the division. Developed by CBA innovation brewmaster Thomas Bleigh, the beverage is a 6.6% ABV dry, botanical bubbly with a herbaceous bitterness. Available in 12oz six-pack cans and clear bottles, Pre is gluten-free, with 1g of sugar.

Bleigh said: “During focus groups with drinkers, Aperol Spritz was named as a favourite summer beverage, ranking #2 behind only beer, so we knew there was an opportunity to do something unique. With Pre, I created an infusion of herbs and spices that I believe really deliver on a classic aperitivo experience.”

CBA CEO Andy Thomas said: “What’s particularly exciting about the pH Experiment is that we’re mining a vast trove of recently acquired consumer insights and tapping into the strength of CBA’s infrastructure to anticipate and quickly deliver on emerging needs.

“With the pH Experiment, we now have the vehicle to unleash our innovation engine and create relevant new products and experiences for today’s drinkers, as we continue focusing on increasing topline growth and shareholder value.”

Karmen Olson, general manager of the pH Experiment, added: “Our goal is to provide long-term, sustainable growth for CBA. We’ll do that by combining the spirit and agility of an innovation start-up with the muscle of a large craft brewer, working side by side with drinkers, retailers and wholesalers to quickly get products to market, listen to feedback, iterate, and either expand or fail fast.”

While craft beer will continue to be at the heart of what CBA brings to consumers nationwide, the pH Experiment will be focused on anticipating and identifying drinkers’ needs. The unit is targeting $25 million in revenue by 2025.

Last October, CBA acquired three US beer firms: North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Massachusetts’ Cisco Brewers, and Florida’s Wynwood Brewing Co. The Oregon-headquartered company plans to increase marketing spend and resources to fuel each brand’s growth and help drive continued innovation.

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