MN’s Fulton Beer is up 20% most of the way thru 1st half of 2017, CEO Ryan Petz shared with CBN. That’s right on plan for where co expects to end up in 2017, which would put ’em over 31K bbls. And with vast majority of sales still in MN, that could put Fulton at nearly 4 share of craft sales in state. Recall, Fulton has distribution in 4 surrounding states too and lookin’ to expand into several new mkts via partnership with Artisanal Imports (Artisanal will assist with distrib appointments and help service Fulton brands in new mkts – see CBN Vol 8, #51). “Nothing is quite final yet,” and “we’re looking at the middle of Q3 and into Q4 to open most” new mkts, Ryan explained.
While it’s “tough to point to one single thing” that’s fueled growth, one key to Fulton’s success is gradual shift away from seasonals. Seasonal segment “is really challenging right now” and Fulton “started to feel that even 2 years ago,” said Ryan. In early years, Fulton used to do “a lot of seasonal beers” with only 2 year round brews, but co had to “adapt brand calendar to be more focused on year round” and “really draw back on the number of seasonal offerings.” Another general mkt trend that’s “been helping us” is shift to more accessible, balanced lower ABV styles. Fulton has always had “balanced” core portfolio (supplemented with specialty brews) and mkt shift toward sessionable styles is playing into co’s favor, Ryan thought. Two brand new Fulton brands fall right into that wheelhouse. Hopstar session IPA launched just last mo and has “gone over so well” that co’s already “trying to figure out how to make more.” And new Pils just launched 2 wks ago and “really pleased with how it’s going so far.” So combo of gradual shift from seasonals, approachable core portfolio, new brand launches and eventual new mkts have Fulton on track to maintain growth.