Detroit-based Atwater Brewery keeps craft beer fresh, seltzer markets increasingly crowded
“I think Seltzer is very important,” said Malone. “At one point we all thought hard seltz would be a blip on the radar. Atwater was early on. That’s something to keep in mind going forward. (Founders Brewing Co.) did released its seltz only in Aug. 2020. That alone indicates that Atwater is trying to stay ahead of consumer trends, even if it’s something craft beer purists may look down on. ”
Overall, out-of-state sales are strong, Rieth said. Atwater products are doing better in some markets than others, he said. Pennsylvania, particularly the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas, is Atwater’s premier outdoor market.
Atwater launched in March in Illinois – Blake’s tenth and first craft beer to hit Chicago – and is well placed in Jewel-Osco grocery stores, Rieth said. About 15 percent of Atwater’s revenue comes from out-of-state sales, he said.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the local. When I go somewhere, I want to try local things in that area,” Rieth said. “As a regional brewery, we have to have a point of difference, something that stands out. One of our new beers is the Pog-O-Licious IPA. It’s been refreshing out of state. The Vanilla Java Porter is doing well because she is unique. Consumers will be looking for them. We love our lagers and pilsners, but it is difficult for these to travel as there are so many available. We are always looking to do well on our home market, and we are doing it. If you don’t have your home market dominated, it’s going to be tough for you. That’s what some regional brewers are seeing.
Regional brewers saw declining revenues in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. Atwater is no different. The Detroit Brewery lost about 35% of its keg and keg sales with the closure of bars and restaurants. However, Atwater saw a 25% increase in revenue from the sale of packaged goods, with beer lovers buying their drinks for consumption at home.
Atwater’s taps at Grosse Pointe and Grand Rapids were closed for long periods during the pandemic, but reopened. Detroit’s faucet room remained open for six months, Atwater joined with other breweries to produce hand sanitizer for customers and first responders. The sale of part of the product accounted for 10% of Atwater’s revenue in 2020, Rieth said. He refused to share the total income.
Atwater generated around $ 10 million in revenue in 2019, according to Rieth. “For 2021 we would like to be flat with 2019, which we would see as a huge success,” Rieth said. “I think a lot of companies look at it like that.”