Sunoco Inc. rolled out a pilot program at the end of June entitled the “Craft Beer Exchange,” in an attempt to capitalize on the growth of the craft beer market.
“Through looking at market data and evaluating offerings, I think it’s clear that there is an interest in craft beer versus larger national brands, especially with the younger beer drinking demographic,” said company spokesperson Joe McGinn. “We are trying to meet that demand by providing craft beer at our APlus convenience locations.”
The program has installed up to 12 tap lines, operated by Sunoco employees, at 12 APlus accounts in Buffalo. If successful, the company plans to extend the program to other APlus accounts across the state of New York.
“The feedback so far has been very positive,” said McGinn. “If the program continues to prove successful, we will look at ways to communicate with our customers and let them know which products we have and where to find them.”
So far, Sunoco has tapped into the Buffalo based microbrewery Flying Bison, and McGinn said their offering, Rusty Nail, has seen good response. Sunoco, headquartered in Philadelphia is also serving suds from the Harrisburg, PA craft brewer Tr├Âegs, which is just two hours away.
“Craft brews are the focus,” said McGinn. “On the largest scale we serve Samuel Adams, but nothing from AB In-Bev or MolsonCoors.”
But don’t bring your local brewpubs growler and expect to be served. The Exchange program requires that you fill up using their custom branded glassware, which sells for $3.99. They are currently giving away free growlers with the purchase of any growler fill purchase. Those fills can range in price from $7.99 – $16.99.
But the program isn’t just about the growlers. Each of the 12 accounts participating in the program also offers consumers the chance to “Pick Six.” This program gives customers the chance to mix and match a six-pack of bottles and cans for $9.99.
McGinn said look no further than the word ‘convenience,’ for their decision to tap into the craft beer segment.
“We want to provide a convenient location for customers to pick up whatever products they like,” he said. “We are trying to meet the demand for craft beer by providing it at our APlus locations.”
Sunoco operates 4700 locations in 26 states and also has approximately 700 APlus locations, according to their website.