Ballast Point Brewing Company has been inundated with global demand for its Sculpin IPA from consumers “who want to know what a billion dollar beer tastes like”, according to international distributor, Global Craft Trading.
Constellation Brands last year purchased Ballast Point for US $1 billion, causing the San Diego company to lose its status as a Brewers Association-defined “craft brewer”.
But rather than hurting its reputation, Global Craft co-founder Eli Raffeld told Australian Brews News that the buyout had actually caused a spike in sales.
“Anyone who’s investigating craft beer over the last year or year and a half has heard the name Ballast Point and people want to know what a billion dollar beer tastes like,” he said.
“A lot of people look at buyouts and a change of ownership as a negative, but for us… it’s the recognition that home brewing can lead to a brewery that’s worth a billion dollars, which is quite an amazing story.”
We want Sculpin
Ballast Point Big Eye IPA has been available in Australia since 2011 under an exclusive partnership between Global Craft and Pinnacle Drinks, the exclusive brands arm of Woolworths.
Raffeld said Big Eye has experienced 40 per cent year-on-year sales growth and is now moving between 25,000 and 30,000 cases annually.
“Big Eye, I think it has been successful for the time that it started in the market, because it is a more East Coast-style IPA – a little maltier and a little pinier and less tropical fruit compared to a Sculpin,” he said.
Sculpin has never been available in Australia other than on the grey market, but Global Craft has revealed that it will be available through Dan Murphy’s and BWS soon after Good Beer Week, when the distributor is hosting the San Diego IPA Invasion at Young & Jackson.
“It was always a question of when we wanted to expand the range. Recently, frankly consumer demand was getting so high – people coming into Dan Murphy’s saying, ‘We want Sculpin! When are we going to be able to drink Sculpin?’” said Raffeld.
“As of June, there will be Sculpin and Grapefruit Sculpin, as a limited time offer, and we’re looking to expand the range of Ballast Point shortly following that – I believe by August or September.”
Raffeld said Grapefruit Sculpin has fuelled the massive fruit IPA trend currently sweeping the US, which has drawn criticism for becoming faddish.
New Karl Strauss beers
Global Craft will also be expanding the current range of Karl Strauss beers available through Woolworths stores, which currently comprises the Pintail Pale Ale, Red Trolley Ale and Tower 10 IPA.
Raffeld said that while Karl Strauss had built its name on sessionable, approachable beers, more recently it has forged a reputation in hop forward IPAs.
“They have two new beers that have kind of taken San Diego by storm, the Mosaic Session IPA, and Aurora Hoppyalis, which is really emblematic of what’s going on in San Diego IPAs right now,” he said.’’
Cold chain distribution
Raffeld said that both Karl Strauss and Ballast Point will be transported in 100 per cent refrigerated conditions from the brewery to Woolies’ distribution centres in Australia.
“Once they’re in the distribution centres they’re kept at about cellar temperature,” he said.
“Then of course, just like in the US, once it gets out to the individual stores, you’re lucky if it’s kept cold.
“Of course it can be ranged in the cold box eventually but unfortunately that’s just the status of the industry, and I think it will stay that way for a long time.
“We wish we could ensure the cold chain all the way through to that guy picking up the bottle and cracking it. We actually do that in Japan with our importer and distributor, but logistically it’s an easier feat there than in Australia,” Raffeld said.
San Diego IPA Invasion
Ballast Point and Karl Strauss are holding a week-long tap takeover at Young & Jackson in Melbourne.
Dubbed the San Diego IPA Invasion, the event will feature the following beers, which Raffeld promises will be “super fresh”:
Grapefruit Sculpin IPA
Pineapple Sculpin IPA
Habanero Sculpin IPA
Big Eye IPA
Even Keel Session IPA With Mango
Tower 10 IPA
Mosaic Session IPA
Aurora Hoppyalis IPA
Big Barrel Double IPA
Singularity Black IPA
Scarlet Opus Imperial Red Ale