How do you stand out from the 94 different beer companies fighting for attention in San Diego’s crowded craft scene?
You reach for the hard stuff.
Living up to its unofficial “we make what we like to drink” motto, this month Ballast Point will introduce four new, ready-to-drink canned cocktails that feature the company’s distilled spirits, including Three Sheets Rum, Fugu Vodka and Old Grove Gin.
More than a year in the making, the lineup includes Bloody Mary, Rum & Cola, Rum & Ginger and Gin & Tonic varieties. The Bloody Mary checks in at 10 percent ABV, while the two rum offerings are both 7 percent ABV. The Gin & Tonic is 6.2 percent ABV.
Shelf stable 12 oz. cans, packaged in four-packs, will retail for as much as $14.99, said Earl Kight, the company’s chief operating officer.
“We still don’t even know where on the shelf we are going to put it,” he said. “Will it migrate into the spirits area? We aren’t sure. Typical Ballast Point — we have a new item and we are just going to try and put it in the stores.”
Kight said he expects large retail accounts like BevMo and Total Wine & More, as well as many independent San Diego retailers, to be early adopters of the new product and to help define where it fits in the set.
Product will initially be available in Southern California, with Northern California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Arizona markets following shortly after, Kight said.
“It sounds simplistic, but we have no idea where this will end up,” he said. “We’re cross drinkers. We’re big fans of wine, beer and spirits. But if you come to my house, I don’t want you coming out to my pool with a bottle of gin and some tonic. Now you can reach into the fridge and have a Ballast Point cocktail, in a can.”
The decision to can blended cocktails stemmed, in part, from a recent trip to Australia, Kight said.
“We were out looking at stores one day and bought a bunch of ready-to-drink gin & tonics,” he said. “We sat around drinking these pre-mixed gin & tonics and thought it might be fun to try it ourselves.”
When the Ballast Point crew returned to the U.S., they began research and development and modified an old canning line.
“We had a slower machine that we used to can our beers on,” said Kight. “We retrofitted the machine and started experimenting.”
Now, with the final (and proprietary) recipes finally ready for prime time, Ballast Point is working to package enough product for the debut.
“The machine only fills 32 cans per minute,” Kight said. “We don’t really have any preconceived volume notions. I said, ‘just make as much as you can until I tell you to stop.’”