In August, New Belgium will assert its Belgian brewing expertise and brand origin story with first standalone Fat Tire line extension, Belgian White special release. It hits about a year after Fat Tire & Friends collab variety pk New Belgium released with anniversary/Asheville brewery opening celebration. That was 1st time co played off of “Fat Tire” brand. So “we haven’t spread that name too thin,” spokesperson Bryan Simpson explained to Craft Brew News. NBB does brew other wheat beers, but broader Fat Tire Belgian White release brings focus back to the “moment of inspiration” for NBB company and Fat Tire brand, Bryan said. And it’s in 2d biggest craft style, according to IRI (aside from stylistically amorphous “Seasonals”). Blue Moon and Shock Top lead brands are about a third of Belgian White in IRI multi-outlet + convenience data. The style’s down 0.5% by $$ thru Mar 19. In some ways, it “only makes sense that we should have a strong Belgian White out in the marketplace,” Bryan acknowledged.
Total NBB depletions still up 8% YTD, Bryan shared, even tho Fat Tire isn’t exactly blowing it out of the water so far this year. Fat Tire’s down about 6% by $$ in IRI MULC thru 3/19, but total NBB up 6%, as we reported last issue. Howzzat? Voodoo. New Voodoo Ranger IPA depletions up 30% over original Ranger, year over year, Bryan said. Additionally, Voodoo 8 Hop pale so far 40% bigger than Slow Ride was last yr (brand NBB using for internal comparison) and Voodoo Imperial IPA up 50% over Rampant. While Voodoo character and branding may be “big departures for us,” as Bryan said, they’re clearly working early in 2017. What about Dayblazer, golden ale launched in 15pks? That’s helpin’ too: #1 new total beer launch in Nielsen grocery and c-store channels thru 3/25, he noted, “prior to the weather warming up.” So as the segment twists and turns into 2d qtr, new brands are helping NBB navigate craft labyrinth better than most other top competitors.