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Boston Beer’s Angry Orchard Vaults To The Top Of Rising Cider Category

April 14, 2014

While Boston Beer remains a driving force behind the U.S. market’s tilt toward “better beer,” one of its best performing brands belongs to another, equally dynamic category. According to Impact Databank, Boston Beer’s Angry Orchard Cider, which debuted in 2011, jumped out to 1.7 million (2.25-gallon) cases in 2012, then catapulted to 8 million cases last year, earning Impact “Hot Brand” honors and leaping past longtime cider category stalwarts like Woodchuck and Strongbow in the process. Angry Orchard now comprises more than half of the roughly 16-million-case cider segment, which has nearly tripled in size since 2011.

Angry Orchard cider maker David Sipes tells SND that the brand is making gains both on- and off-premise, led by its core Crisp Apple offering. “As drinkers start appreciating cider as a flavorful alternative to beer and wine, we’re seeing more opportunity to introduce Angry Orchard Crisp Apple draft lines on-premise,” he says. In the off-premise, meanwhile, retailers are now devoting double or triple the amount of space to cider that they did a year ago. “Where there were once two to three brands available, there are now about six,” Sipes notes.

In addition to Crisp Apple, Angry Orchard’s year-round portfolio includes Traditional Dry and Apple Ginger ciders. In recent weeks Boston Beer unveiled another extension, Green Apple, the brand’s first year-round offering made with American apples. Two higher-priced, higher-alcohol ciders—Iceman and Strawman—are also in the brand family. Those expressions, both 10% abv versus the core line’s 5%, are marketed in 750-ml. bottles that retail around $15.

Sipes says cider’s versatility—including its amenability to food pairing and use in cocktails—is an asset in appealing to consumers from across the drinks spectrum. Boston Beer isn’t the only major brewer that’s eyeing continuing progress in the segment. This spring, MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch have each introduced new cider brands—Smith & Forge and Johnny Appleseed, respectively—both of which are rolling out backed by robust marketing campaigns.

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