Charlotte, North Carolina-based Sycamore Brewing is diversifying its portfolio again with the launch of Beach Shack Coffee.
Sycamore, which also makes the Wild Blossom cider brand, has begun selling canned and kegged cold brew, and also plans to offer fresh-roasted beans, said Sycamore Brewing VP of sales Archie Gleason.
Sycamore — which was founded by husband-and-wife Justin and Sarah Brigham in 2013 — sees whitespace in the local Charlotte market for craft beer drinkers who like artisan coffee, Gleason said.
“Oddly enough, here in Charlotte, with so many young professionals coming, there isn’t a brand that has taken Position A in the marketplace,” he said. “So we think the on-premise side of things with cold brew draft could be a pretty big deal. In terms of number of CEs [case equivalents], I didn’t think it’s going to rival our biggest beers, but it’s not going to be the smallest thing we do either.”
To start, Sycamore is targeting between 75 and 100 taphandles, Gleason said.
“It’s a significant amount in Charlotte, but we’ve got a great partner who is enthusiastic about the product in Adams Beverage, and the ability to crank out that much cold brew,” he said. “We’ll see if we’re out of our minds with that number or if we’re undershooting ourselves.”
After the launch of cold brew draft, Sycamore will add Beach Shack bottles for convenience and grocery stores, and then offer packages of fresh-roasted beans in grocery stores. The company has also begun discussions with local restaurants about using Beach Shack’s beans for a house coffee.
As part of the new venture, Gleason said the company is in the process of scouting locations for a storefront. A small amount of roasting will be done at the coffee shop, while, the majority of the roasting will be done at Sycamore’s Charlotte production facility.
Sycamore has hired chef Matt Krenz as its roaster, and he will work with Sycamore brewer Brad Bergman on the coffee line. All told, Sycamore is investing “south of seven figures” in launching Beach Shack, Gleason estimated.
Beach Shack’s first batch of cold brew was incorporated in Sycamore’s fall seasonal, Pumpkin Latte Blonde, which will be available during the annual Pumpkin Fest at the company’s taproom on September 14. Gleason said more than 100 gallons of Beach Shack cold brew was added to each batch of Pumpkin Latte.
Beer companies getting into the coffee roasting business isn’t a new phenomenon, with notable craft breweries Oskar Blues, Modern Times, and Two Brothers, among several others, already in the business. Sycamore joins a pair of fast-growing Massachusetts craft breweries, Night Shift Brewing and Tree House Brewing, to broaden their portfolios with coffee brands in recent months.
Night Shift’s coffee label, which started in March, is now sold in about 30 retail accounts and a handful of cafes, co-founder Michael Oxton told Brewbound. The company is also in discussions with grocery chains, including Whole Foods, so wider distribution could be forthcoming.
“We’re kind of treating this the way we did beer back in 2012, which is producing small batches, developing relationships with local retailers and cafes, and just growing as demand provides for it,” Oxton said.
Meanwhile, Tree House co-founder Nate Lanier announced the start of Tree House Coffee Company this month on its website.
“An overarching and plainly stated theme of the Tree House long game is to be in direct control of every variable possible in our product and presentation, thus making it exactly as we intend it to be, and uniquely ours in a way that is irreplaceable,” he wrote.
As such, Tree House’s coffee blend and roast profiles for Single Shot, Double Shot, Abstraction Coffee and other coffee beers will be made in-house.
“Independent from beer, we’re excited to introduce in the near future a house blend that exhibits everything we love about coffee-a flavorful, clean, expressive, easy-drinking cup of coffee,” he added.
Those house blends include cold brew, nitro cold brew and hot coffee, along with fresh-roasted bean, which will be sold in Tree House’s storefront.
“Our approach to coffee is identical to our approach to beer,” he added. “We aim to select and roast coffee that is pleasant to drink, delightfully delicious, and enjoyable all the way through the cup.”