5 Beer launches that combine tradition with innovation

September 21, 2018
5 min read

Oktoberfest is opening its doors for the 185th time this year and as millions around the world celebrate the occasion by raising their traditional beer steins, Mintel’s expert analysts take a look at recent innovation. Here, utilizing the Mintel Global New Products database (GNPD) they analyse some recent launches that offer a reinterpretation of tradition, while firmly looking towards the future.

Weihenstephaner Sierra Braupakt Hefeweissbier (USA)

Weihenstephan was founded in Bavaria in the year in 1040 and is the world’s oldest still-operating brewery. The amber, cloudy wheat beer is a limited edition created in collaboration with the ‘American craft beer pioneers’ of the Californian brewery Sierra Nevada. The Bavarian-style product is brewed under the purity law of 1516.

Jonny Forsyth, Associate Director – Mintel Food & Drink comments:

“This collaboration between German Weihenstephan – “the world’s oldest brewery” – and the US-based Sierra Nevada is a high-profile example of how US craft brands and German brewers are collaborating to bring classic German styles into the US craft beer market, where they are an exotic novelty.

This type of collaboration could also help big brewers adapt to a more demanding younger generation which prizes collaboration hugely and appreciates different expertise, evidenced by the fact that 18-37-year-old UK alcohol buyers are more than twice as interested in alcoholic drinks made by more than one producer versus buyers aged 38+.”

Socca Bièra Bière aux Pois Chiches – Chickpea Beer (France)

Available in France, SBN’s Socca Bièra Chickpea Beer is made with water, malt, chickpea, hops and yeast. It is said to be non-filtered, non-pasteurised and brewed in high fermentation and described as luminous with a thick foam, character, softness and a long note in the mouth.
Jenny Zegler, Associate Director – Mintel Food & Drink comments:

“Chickpea is an ingredient that has been rising in popularity as nutritious plant-based ingredients are more important to consumers across food and drink. Despite growing popularity in prepared meals and snacks, chickpea is new to the beer category. This beer’s recipe is inspired by socca, a flatbread made with chickpea flour that is a traditional snack in Nice, France, where the brewery is based, thereby reinterpreting traditional craftsmanship in a new and interesting way.

In addition, while foam is a natural feature of beer, Socca Bièra’s emphasis on its thick foam also aligns with the burgeoning interest in texture, as predicted by Mintel’s 2018 Global Food & Drink Trend ‘New Sensations’. As more consumers become interested in texture in food and drink, the natural foam of beer could become an asset that breweries can use to innovate and set one beer apart from another.”

Sufferfest Repeat Kolsch (USA)

Beer maker Sufferfest Beer Company’s Repeat Kolsch is positioned as a low-cal, low-carb, and low-abv option. The ingredient list includes bee pollen, presented as being rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and other compounds that reduce inflammation, stimulate the immune system, and lower cholesterol levels.

Beth Bloom Associate Director – Food & Drink, comments:

“The Sufferfest brand appears to be making a stronger play for healthy beer compared to other options on the market, even blurring the lines between alcohol and sports and nutritional drinks. Where other brands tend to focus on calorie reduction, a large part of the Sufferfest strategy is to focus on the more of the beer (more vitamins and minerals) and not the less (calories or carbs).

The move could be one that helps stem the flow of consumers away from beer, retaining them with the draw of a ‘better for you’ alcohol option. While the combination of beer and sports nutrition might sound strange to some, in beer-loving regions such as Bavaria, certain types of beer have been long associated with sports recovery and Sufferfest is reinterpreting this tradition in a more direct way.”

Stella Artois Gluten Free (UK)

The leading lager brand recently unveiled a gluten-free version of their flagship brand, with a wider rollout planned for autumn 2018. The drink will have the same ABV as traditional Stella Artois, at 4.8%, with the gluten removed. It has received certification from Coeliac UK.

Amy Price, Senior Food & Drink Analyst comments:

“Stella Artois’ move is part of a wider trend in beer, with brands looking to leverage their brand equity and move into new areas as a way to unlock new revenue streams. Such initiatives span far beyond beer, as discussed under Mintel’s Extend My Brand Trend. The share of overall food and drink launches with a gluten-free claim reached 14% in 2017, a four-year high.

In beer, however, gluten-free claims remain niche. This leaves the handful of major brands venturing into gluten-free beers space to enjoy a near-monopoly in vying for the attention of the sizeable pool of gluten-avoiders.”

Brekeriet Beer Sour Patch Pink Passion Beer (Sweden)

Sweden’s Brekeriet Beer has a Sour Patch line of beers fermented with different wild yeast strains and lactic acid bacteria cultures. The Pink Passion Beer is made with passionfruit and hibiscus.

Jenny Zegler, Associate Director – Mintel Food & Drink comments:

“As craft brewing continues to expand, brewers are experimenting with more flavours beyond ales, lagers and the hoppy bitterness of the now widely available India Pale Ales (IPAs). Some craft brewers are getting creative with yeasts, bacteria, sour citrus juices and other tart ingredients to create a new niche of sour-flavoured beers.

The tart formulations provide refreshing flavours that are well-suited to hot summer days. In addition, some sour beers are finding followings among fitness enthusiasts who are looking for adult options of thirst-quenching post-activity drinks. Sour beers also can attract adventurous drinkers, especially those who have already embraced the inherently tart flavours of kombucha.”

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