Investment Roundup: Flying Embers-Maker Closes $25M Series B Round; Shotgun Seltzer Raises $1M

Flying Embers-Maker Closes $25M Series B Round

Fermented Sciences, the maker hard kombucha brand Flying Embers, announced this week it has raised $25 million in a Series B round co-led by PowerPlant Ventures and Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF), which previously invested in the company. Blueberry Ventures and Monogram Capital Partners also participated in the round.

Speaking with Brewbound, Fermented Sciences founder and CEO Bill Moses said the round will serve as working capital as the two-year-old company expands its national sales team, as well as help fund facility expansions and product innovation.

Fermented Sciences now works with more than 70 distributors across 30 states, Moses said, with expansion to six additional states anticipated in the near future.

Although he declined to specify which regions, Moses said the company is focusing on seven “beacon cities,” which will serve as the major markets for Flying Embers’ growth.

Flying Embers is currently available in natural channel grocers, including Whole Foods and Earth Fare, as well as retailers such as Costco and Giant Eagle.

“[Retail] chains have been very receptive to adopting new, innovative, better-for-you alcohol categories,” Moses said. “We’re showing up at the right time at the right place. That’s affording us an opportunity to get on shelf nationwide with the major retailers.”

Whipstitch Capital served as the exclusive financial advisor to Fermented Sciences in the transaction.

The financing comes as Fermented Sciences has also expanded its leadership team. In October, Ty Gilmore joined as president, leaving his role at Diageo as the VP of national accounts, category development and military for Guinness USA. According to Moses, Gilmore is focused on commercial expansion and innovation.

“Ty brings an institutional mindset and orientation that really complements his entrepreneurial and innovation and commercialization skill set,” Moses said.

Fermented Sciences has also brought on Kyle Ingram as VP of marketing. Ingram previously held the same title at the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, whose portfolio includes the Oskar Blues, Cigar City, Deep Ellum, Three Weavers, Perrin Brewing, Squatters and Wasatch brands.

According to Moses, PowerPlant Ventures co-founder and partner Mark Rampolla will also help the company develop its marketing strategy. He said the company has several campaigns it is preparing to launch in 2020, including a “liquid to lips” demoing programs.

Fermented Sciences is also working to expand its California manufacturing facility, adding an additional 50,000 sq. ft. of space, for a total of 90,000 sq. ft. Moses said the company will also open three public taprooms in the next six months across Central and Southern California.

Next year will also see Fermented Sciences first expansion beyond the Flying Embers line, Moses said. The company is preparing to launch a better-for-you beer with functional ingredients, including probiotics and reishi mushrooms. As consumers look for better-for-you alcohol options, Moses believes value-add plays will become an important platform in the space.

“What traditionally we’ve seen with better-for-you alcohol is [about] what’s not in it — low [calorie], no carbs, etc.,” Moses said. “We think that beginning with the hard kombucha category, and extending into other categories, it’s not only going to be about what’s not in it, but what is in it that can add some benefits that otherwise one wouldn’t get in this space.”

Austin’s Shotgun Seltzer Raises $1 Million

Austin, Texas-based spiked seltzer maker Shotgun Seltzer announced in a press release today it has received a $1 million investment from Unorthodox Ventures.

Texas Libations CEO Brad Foster and CMO Lori Foster launched Shotgun Seltzer in July with a single SKU called Bramble, a cocktail-inspired blackberry liqueur and lemon flavor, which checks in at 5.2% ABV. This fall, the company released its second flavor, Ranch Water, at 6.9% ABV.

“With so many national brands focused on canned spiked seltzers, we knew bringing the experience on draft to the on-premise channel would be a way to stand out,” Brad Foster said in the release. “We also know that our Texas craft seltzers allow consumers to experience more variety and unique flavors.”

Shotgun Seltzer is currently available on draft in nearly 200 bars, restaurants, event venues, hotels and resorts in Texas.

“Brad and Lori have deep knowledge of their industry, and they’ve proven through Shotgun

Seltzer’s rapid growth that they have more than an idea and a polished presentation — they have a real business with real growth,” Unorthodox Ventures founder Carey Smith said in the release. “We’re excited to roll up our sleeves and support Shotgun Seltzer’s continued success.”

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