Just five months after selling to Constellation Brands, Funky Buddha Brewery is seeing the benefits of its new partnership. The South Florida craft brewery will take advantage of brewing and canning capacity at Ballast Point, another Constellation-owned company, and launch its product in cans for the first time.
“Over the past four years, we’ve definitely seen consumers shift toward wanting craft beer in cans,” Funky Buddha’s marketing director John Linn told Brewbound. “So we wanted to deliver that.”
Additionally, Funky Buddha has unveiled a packaging refresh that more prominently features the company’s name and logo.
Reached by phone, Funky Buddha co-founder Ryan Sentz said consumers would begin seeing the new bottles and cans at retail locations throughout Florida in the coming weeks. He also cited Florida’s active, outdoor lifestyle as an opportunity for Funky Buddha to reach new consumers, especially ones who enjoy boating, golfing, and beach-going.
“Cans are definitely more accessible for those places that don’t normally allow bottles,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of places that we haven’t been able to get into because they are cans only. So it’s going to open up a lot of opportunities for us.”
Funky Buddha will begin by offering 12 oz. can 6- and 12-packs of core releases — Floridian Hefeweizen, Hop Gun IPA and Pineapple Beach blonde ale — before adding a new year-round release, Vibin’, a 5.8 percent IPA, later this year. Then, in March, the company will add 16 oz. cans of Floridian and Hop Gun to its mix.
“Our goal is to go very deeply into the portfolio in cans in the future,” Linn said.
The majority of Funky Buddha’s can volume will come from Ballast Point’s Virginia brewery, located in Daleville, Sentz said. The company also has plans to install a canning line later this year, however.
After finishing 2017 with sales of nearly 35,000 barrels of beer, Sentz added that Funky Buddha is aiming to nearly double production in 2018.
“A big part of that is us opening up six new markets, the release of cans and just pushing a little further into Florida,” he said.
Pre-order demand for cans of Funky Buddha beer has been strong, Linn added.
“There’s definitely some good options from the retail level and the chain level from the get go,” he said.
However, Sentz and Linn said 15-packs were never considered despite the growing popularity of the format.
“We’re happy with where we’re at in terms of our value for the product,” Linn said. “We are on the higher end but we feel we deliver a great quality product at a great price. Further lowering or eroding pricing wasn’t really a consideration for us.”
Another benefit from Funky Buddha’s sale to Constellation Brands will be added sales support. Linn said part of Funky Buddha’s sales team has merged with Ballast Point’s southeast sales force, and are now part of Constellation Brands’ Craft & Specialty Division. The more than 15-member team will work this year to deepen the company’s reach in Florida while also helping it expand over the next two months to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Linn said a refresh of Funky Buddha’s packaging, which has been underway since last August, will be coming to the company’s entire portfolio throughout the year in order to maintain consistency across all packaging formats.
Sentz added that the changes are “not a giant departure” from the brand’s current look, but the changes were necessitated by the addition of cans, which lack long neck labels.
Several other changes are on the way in 2018 for Funky Buddha’s product lineup, including biannual releases for the company’s popular Last Snow Coconut and Coffee Porter and No Crust Peanut Butter & Jelly Brown Ale in 12 oz. bottle 4-packs.
Also beginning this year, Funky Buddha will replace its seasonal program with the “Goodness Series,” featuring four releases on draft and in 12 oz. bottle 4-packs. The first release in that series, Huki Idol Tropical IPA, will be released in February.
“Those and other parts of our portfolio we hope to can in the future,” Linn said.
Meanwhile, Funky Buddha will continue to offer the Little Buddha Small Batch Series, which launches this weekend with Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, and the Living Barrel Series, which will include the popular Morning Wood and Last Buffalo in the Park releases, in 22 oz. bottles.