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Craft Brewers And Retailers Collaborate On Exclusive Beers

May 14, 2012

Increasingly, retailers are partnering with craft brewers to produce signature beers sold only at their accounts. With beer fans clamoring for limited-edition items, the idea appears to be taking hold. These collaborative brews generally are high-end, usually retailing at around $17 for a 750-ml. bottle or $9 for a draft pour.

The upscale Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia markets its own collaborative beers, recently releasing a brand in partnership with Philly’s Dock Street Brewing Co.:Caliente Golden, brewed with 100% blue agave nectar. That follows last year’s Truffled Old Ale in the hotel’s “A Beer Four All Seasons” series. The beers are sold exclusively at the hotel’s Swann Lounge.

In the off-premise, one retailer is so enamored with this concept that he now offers one collaborative beer a month. Cleetus Friedman, owner of City Provisions, an upscale deli and grocery in Chicago, which also sells beer on tap, has done collaborative projects with numerous craft brewers. Last month, City Provisions unveiled The Nose of Testudo, produced at Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, Illinois. Friedman says consumer response to these beers has been strong.

Friedman consults with his brewing partners about a beer’s recipe and then spends one day a month at the brewery, aiding in production. But he’s scrupulous about adhering to the three-tier system: the brewer sells to a local distributor, who then sells to Friedman. He marks the brew up “a little more than usual,” he says, due to its exclusive nature. Draft beers are priced between $6 and $9, depending on strength and pour size. Friedman adds that the proprietary beers—which have also included partnerships with breweries like New Holland, Greenbush and Dark Horse—have garnered interest from other beer merchants.

Meanwhile, next up at Four Seasons in Philadelphia are a summer beer to be released in early June and an autumn beer in late September. Both will feature herbs and fruits grown in the Four Seasons’ rooftop garden. Other Four Seasons hotels are exploring the collaborative beer concept, a company spokesperson says.


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