Craft Brew Alliance — which markets the Kona Brewing, Redhook Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing and Omission beer brands — has partnered with Buffalo Wild Wings to create a new, draft-only beer called Game Changer.
Brewed as a new label under the Redhook brand, Game Changer is a 4.6 percent ABV pale ale that will begin rolling out to Buffalo Wild Wings’ 900-plus U.S. locations this summer. But Andy Thomas, CBA’s president of commercial operation said the new brew won’t be exclusive to the wing-focused casual dining chain.
“Buffalo Wild Wings is a branded property and Redhook is a brand,” he said. “They weren’t looking for a branded beer, they wanted to help brand themselves with a legitimate craft beer and craft brand.”
The collaboration highlights the increasing interest in craft from on-premise retailers in the casual dining segment. CBA, with brewing facilities on both coasts and a national distribution footprint was the perfect partner, Thomas said.
“If you are going to say you are a national brand, you have to be national,” he said. “The consumer palate has expanded and craft brands are increasingly going to be challenged with finding ways to access those consumers. We are trying to attract that consumer and that crossover occasion where we can bring them into the world of fuller flavored beers.”
Even the name of the beer — Game Changer — is a nod to Thomas’ goal of crafting a CBA portfolio that offers consumers a beer for every drinking occasion.
“Somebody who is drinking an 8-percent, imperial IPA, isn’t in the same mindset as someone who will be drinking Game Changer,” he said “That consumer, eating wings and watching a game has something different in mind.”
In-store programming on Game Changer can be expected, Thomas said, as CBA looks to “dial up the focus with the Buffalo Wild Wings customer in mind.” The beer will begin shipping in July.