CHICAGO -- Tecate will launch a brand new brew in February, hoping to expand its share of the growing Mexican-import category, but it's hardly the only beer lifting its game. Beers brewed with Dunkin' and Wawa coffees, beer enhanced with THC, spiked cold brew: The alcohol innovation pipeline has hit a frenzied pace in recent months, and consumers are opening their taste buds to new flavors and styles.
Here's a look at what's brewing ...
Tecate, a Mexican beer imported by Heineken USA, will launch a 7.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) brew in February in a single-serve 24-ounce can. Tecate Titanium was created for sale in licensed off-premise accounts, specifically convenience stores, to capitalize on the growth of high-ABV beers in this channel, according to the company.
“Titanium provides an opportunity to further expand the fast-growing Mexican category with a unique high-ABV option,” said Belen Pamukoff, Tecate brand director. “Our core target, Hispanic c-store shoppers, are currently underserved by existing high-ABV options as they are 13% less likely to have purchased than the average shopper and have spent 30% less on the segment. ... We see a gap in the market where most of the high-ABV options are nonbeers, inferior beers or hoppy craft beers.”
This new brew enters a market segment where total 6.5% and higher ABV products are growing 10.1% and singles cans are growing 11.6%, according to White Plains, N.Y.-based Heineken; in addition, 80% of high-ABV beverage volume is in cans and 64% of cans are the 24-ounce size.
MillerCoors, Chicago, is testing a new craft light lager in four markets with the intent of eventually taking the brand national. If successful in test markets, Saint Archer Gold, a Helles-inspired lager, would be the San Diego-based brewery’s first nationally distributed beer.
The beer, at 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbohydrates per 12-ounce serving, seeks to fill what brewery president Brad Nadal calls a “white space in craft brewing.” Gold, he said, is a “low-calorie, low-carbohydrate beer that will appeal to both craft drinkers who want a more sessionable option without leaving craft, and Michelob Ultra drinkers who are interested in craft but still want lower carbs and calories.” The drink is aimed at active, health-conscious 25- to 44-year-old men and women.
3. Left Hand Brewing
Longmont, Colo.-based Left Hand Brewing Co. will add several new brews to its beer lineup in 2019, beginning with Flamingo Dreams Nitro, a 4.7% ABV blonde ale with raspberries and black currants that pours a striking pink, according to the company.
Also coming are:
- Wheels Gose ’Round, a 4.4% ABV lemon and raspberry gose
- Seasonal entry Hard Wired Nitro, a coffee porter featuring Allegro coffee beans, available in 13.65-ounce nitro widget cans
- Push Pop Party Nitro, a hazy citrus ale
- White Russian Nitro, the dude’s beer of choice, the company said
- Chai Milk Stout Nitro
The brewer's Wake Up Dead Nitro also will be available on a limited basis in the fall.
4. Ceria Brewing Co.
Arvada, Colo.-based Ceria Brewing Co. launched its THC-infused Grainwave Belgian-style White Ale in mid-December. Each 10-ounce serving of Grainwave contains 5-mg doses of THC with a similar onset time as alcohol. The nonalcohol beer is being brewed by Sleeping Giant Brewing Co., Denver, and O’Fallon Brewing, St. Louis.
Heineken USA is launching Heineken 0.0, an alcohol-free malt beverage brewed for a distinct balanced taste and containing only 69 calories per bottle. The brand’s iconic label has been turned blue to match the color associated with the alcohol-free category globally. Heineken Master Brewers created the new zero-alcohol brew, made with natural ingredients.
“Heineken 0.0 brings for the first time a truly incredible beer taste to the nonalcohol space and opens a world of opportunity for people to come together and enjoy a brew that expands the drinking occasion—not limits them,” said Jonnie Cahill, chief marketing officer for Heineken USA.
By supplying a well-known, high-end option to the nonalcohol segment, Heineken 0.0 aims to propel category growth by capturing new consumption occasions and new consumers, the company said.
6. West + Wilder
Wine maker West + Wilder has added a Sparkling White and a Sparkling Rose to its portfolio of West Coast-inspired, canned wines. Santa Rosa, Calif.-based West + Wilder wines are intended to be "a 750-mL bottle of great wine that happens to come in three 8.4-ounce cans." The drinks are available in White Wine, Rose and now a Sparkling White and a Sparkling Rose.
7. Braxton Brewing Co.
Covington, Ky.-based Braxton Brewing Co. launched Vive Hard Seltzer in early 2019. Made with Kentucky Artisan water, the flavored alcohol drinks contain 100 calories and 2 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving. Vive Hard Seltzer is available in four flavors: Mango, Lime, Dragonfruit and Grapefruit. With 5% ABV, it is available in a 12-count variety pack of 12-ounce slim cans, a six-count Mango Pack of 12-ounce slim cans and a six-count Lime Pack of 12-ounce slim cans.
Southern Champion expands on its BuzzBallz line of malt-based cocktail drinks with BuzzTallz, ready-to-drink wine cocktails now available in Lime 'Rita, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Lotta Colada, Chocolate Tease, Stiff Lemonade and Horchata. The cocktails are blended with all-natural juices and premium alcohol, designed to taste like a bartender-crafted beverage, according to the Carrollton, Texas-based company. BuzzTallz, 13% ABV and packed in 375-mL cans, are kosher-certified, gluten-free and contain no high fructose corn syrup.
9. Highland Brewing Co.
Asheville, N.C.-based craft brewer Highland Brewing Co. has added Starchaser White to the company’s year-round lineup. Originally released as a summer seasonal, the Belgian-inspired white ale is brewed with coriander, candied ginger and grapefruit peel. Starchaser is available in six-pack cans.
Smirnoff vodka has reinvented an 80-year-old classic cocktail with the launch of its new flavor variant, Smirnoff Moscow Mule. The new product combines ginger and lime flavors for a RTD take on the drink. The bottle itself is wrapped in a copper color, paying homage to the Moscow Mule cocktail in the iconic copper mule mug. Smirnoff Moscow Mule is available nationwide now for a limited time only and retails doe $14.99 for a 750-mL bottle.
11. Rogue Ales & Spirits
Newport, Ore.-based Rogue Ales & Spirits started 2019 with the launch of two new year-round IPAs. Outta Line is a bright, honey-colored West Coast-style IPA, and Batsquatch is a juicy, hazy IPA with intense tropical aromas and flavors, the company said. Outta Line launched Jan. 1, and Batsquatch will roll out March 1, both in six-packs of 12-ounce cans and bottles.
12. Coffee partnerships
This past fall, two well-known names in coffee partnered with local craft beer brewers to create limited-time drinks that underscored their roots and excited their fans.
In October, quick-service-restaurant chain Dunkin’ Donuts and Harpoon Brewery partnered to combine the taste of Dunkin’s Espresso Blend Coffee with Harpoon’s craft beer, launching Harpoon Dunkin’ Coffee Porter. The resulting drink is "a balanced and smooth brew offering robust and roasty notes," the companies said. Harpoon Dunkin’ Coffee Porter came in 12-ounce bottles and on draft. At 6% ABV, Dunkin’ Coffee Porter offered "a malty-tasting brew that has a smooth mouth feel with aromas of espresso and dark chocolate," the companies said.
And convenience-store retailer Wawa released its first branded beer in partnership with 2SP Brewing Co., Aston, Pa. The resulting Wawa Winter Reserve Coffee Stout is an oatmeal stout beer steeped with Wawa's new limited-edition Winter Blend coffee. Cans of the Winter Reserve Coffee Stout were available for a limited time beginning the week of Dec. 10.
Both beers became sought-after by both beer aficionado and fans of the coffee brands. Although the limited runs are over, they set a template for future collaborations by these chains and others.