Just three years removed from its launch onto the craft beer scene, L.A.’s Golden Road Brewing has made a habit of executing a number of high-profile retail partnerships with the likes of Costco, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
But the young craft brewery’s most recent endeavor with Maryland-based HMSHost, a $2.7 billion global restaurateur with food and beverage programs in 110 airports worldwide, is perhaps its most impressive.
The two companies have collaborated to on a new brew, Carry On Citrus Ale, which is the first craft beer to be made exclusively for airports and will mark the first time Golden Road Brewing expands beyond its current, California-only distribution footprint.
The new beer, which will be sold exclusively in Golden Road-branded 16 oz. cans, will initially rollout to 11 western airports on July 4. Later this summer, airports in the Pacific Northwest as well as Minneapolis, Denver and Chicago will receive the beer. HMSHost retailers at nine major airports in Florida will also sell Carry On before 2015, said brewery co-founder Meg Gill.
“They (HMSHost) already have some great beer partners,” she said. “It has been a long term goal our ours to be another one of their great partners and we wanted to do something that we thought could hit the fat curve of beer drinkers.”
So what kind of drinker sits in the so-called “fat” part of the bell curve? Apparently the kind with some time to kill and a little extra money to spend.
“There is no time of day stopping you from drinking when you’re at the airport,” she said. “People will pay an extra dollar or two, especially when they are on the company budget or on a vacation budget. You want something tasty, you will pay a little extra and it is 5 o’clock somewhere in an airport all the times, right?”
That’s a combination that spells opportunity for both Golden Road and HMSHost, who was encouraged by craft’s continued growth and was eager to introduce a unique product for the airport environment.
“They have been watching the craft market and they want to be involved in helping it grow,” Gill said. “There have been hundreds of people involved in helping us — a tiny, tiny brand — get setup with this opportunity and their management team is excited to be helping us grow as well. It is a great thing.”
The decision to partner with Golden Road is a curious one. HMSHost already has strategic relationships with much larger beer suppliers like Anheuser-Busch InBev and Boston Beer, who sell internationally. Golden Road, however, is only sold in California, struggles with capacity constraints and will only sell about 30,000 barrels of beer in 2014.
So how did Gill and her team pull it off?
“This project wasn’t one that got shopped around,” she said. “It was a relationship and a vision that we worked on and it took a couple of years of business development with them.”
Golden Road’s relationship with HMSHost began in 2012, when it began selling beer at Los Angeles International Airport.
“This isn’t just an idea that works in L.A,” said Gill. “They (HMSHost) are committing to the risk of taking a small L.A. brand, putting it in other airports nationwide and believing that it will work.”
For Golden Road, it’s the latest in a string of strategic partnerships that the company has successfully executed. Earlier this month, the LA Times reported that the brewery recently began brewing Trader Joe’s new private-label craft offerings.
The brewery also works closely with Costco, a club store notorious for wanting beverage companies to sell $1,000 worth of product, each week, in each store. Last year, at the request of Costco buyers, the brewery launched 24-packs of its flagship, Point The Way IPA, at 50 Southern California Costco locations.
“Give the retailers what they want, right?” said Gill. “We have the ability as a young brewery to take a retailer’s advice, help build brands and grow the LA market share. LA is a nascent market and who best to listen to other than the retailers that sell the most beer?”
That means allowing influential retailers like Whole Foods, which virtually launched the Golden Road brand back in 2011, help guide the company’s decision-making process.
“When you start a brewery in 2011 versus 1985, you need to have share of mind with all three tiers and you need to be different,” said Gill.
And for a company that can barely keep up with demand in its home market, going nationwide in major airports with a partner like HMSHost is certainly, well, different.
Full release is below.
LOS ANGELES — July 1, 2014 — L.A.’s Golden Road Brewing and global restaurateur HMSHost have teamed up to release the first craft beer made exclusively for airports, Carry On Citrus Ale. Inspired by the spirit of the American traveler, Carry On represents the growing demand for both craft beer and a better travel experience. The citrus-forward ale will be Golden Road’s first brand available outside of its California-only distribution and will hit HMSHost venues in 16-oz cans at select airports by July 4.
“The craft beer industry embodies the American dream’s pillars of innovation and opportunity,” said Meg Gill, co-founder of Golden Road Brewing. “Through our presence at LAX, we’ve seen how travelers recognize and associate these ideals with our beer. Our partnership with industry leader HMSHost allows us to dig even deeper and connect this ethos on a national scale while fulfilling our mission to increase craft beer accessibility.”
Those flying through major California cities, Phoenix and Las Vegas this Fourth of July will be the lucky first (of many) to taste the adventure-driven beer before a phased roll-out to more than 30 airports by the end of 2014. The first widely commercially available style of its kind, the Citrus Ale features hops from the Pacific Northwest and organic citrus from Southern California, a nod to Golden Road’s roots. The resulting combination marries an approachable profile with bright flavors synonymous with L.A. for a full-flavored, journey-enhancing brew.
“Partnering with Golden Road Brewing to develop a craft beer for travelers has been a great adventure in itself,” said HMSHost Senior Director of Adult Beverage & Restaurant Development Doug Draper. “Carry On Citrus Ale is sure to enhance the traveler’s journey; with such a flavorful combination of ingredients, it’s a great way to relax before boarding the plane.”
HMSHost and Golden Road share a commitment to thoughtful partnerships that provide a unique experience for the consumer. Just as HMSHost has held strategic relationships with Anheuser-Busch InBev and the Boston Beer Company, enhancing the adult beverage experience for travelers all over the world, with innovations such as the use of appropriate glassware for various brews, and in consistently creating the perfect pour, so too does it continue to evolve trends in airport dining and drinking through brand cultivation and forward-thinking projects in culinary, adult beverage, customer service and technology.
Carry On Citrus Ale will be available in the following city’s airports this July: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno, Oakland, Palm Springs, Sacramento, Santa Ana, Las Vegas and Phoenix. By the end of 2014, the beer will enter airports in Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Boise, Spokane and nine major airports in Florida.
Coming mid-summer, Golden Road will launch a social media sweepstakes for a chance to win a VIP experience and trip to the brewery in sunny Los Angeles. Official rules and details will be available at www.goldenroad.la/
For more information about Carry On Citrus Ale and Golden Road Brewing’s partnership with HMSHost, please contact Sara Schulte at email@example.com.
About Golden Road Brewing
In 2011, beer enthusiasts Meg Gill and Tony Yanow founded Golden Road Brewing to bring fresh beer to the local market in the most sustainable way possible. Brewed and canned in Los Angeles, Golden Road’s year-round offerings include Point the Way IPA, Golden Road Hefeweizen, Get Up Offa That Brown, 329 Lager and Wolf Among Weeds IPA. Golden Road is committed to engaging and supporting the growing community of socially-minded beer enthusiasts in Los Angeles. For more information, please visit goldenroad.la.
Global restaurateur HMSHost is a world leader in creating dining for travel venues. HMSHost operates in more than 100 airports around the globe, including the 20 busiest airports in North America. The Company has annual sales in excess of $2.7 billion and employs more than 30,000 sales associates worldwide. HMSHost is a part of Autogrill Group, the world’s leading provider of food & beverage and retail services for people on the move. With sales of around Ôé¼4 billion in 2013, the Group operates in 30 countries and employs some 56,000 people. It manages approximately 4,700 stores in over 1,000 locations worldwide. Visit www.HMSHost.com for more information. We can also be found on Facebook at fb.com/HMSHost and Twitter @HMSHost.