Cerveceria Calidad, a recently launched Mexican-style lager brand, has secured $2.5 million in seed funding from more than 20 investors, including American-Mexican Major League Baseball player Adrian González.
Other notable investors include Nathaniel Ru, Nicolas Jammet and Jonathan Neman, the founders of Sweetgreen, and MeUndies founder and CEO Jonathan Shokrian.
Calidad creator Josh Zad, who also founded the popular Alfred chain of third-wave coffee shops known for its trademarked tagline, “but first, coffee,” told Brewbound that the injection of capital would be spent on production, sales and marketing.
“The three-headed monster,” he said.
Los Angeles-based Calidad, which markets a single style of beer packaged in 12 oz. cans and kegs, currently brews under contract at Santa Barbara’s Pure Order Brewing.
Launched in November 2018, Calidad has focused its early sales efforts on securing placements at on-premise accounts throughout Southern California.
The beers are currently sold at more than 300 bars and restaurants, and a number of off-premise accounts, including BevMO and Total Wine & More. Next week, the company will launch in various Southern California Bristol Farms and Whole Foods grocery stores.
“Right now our focus is on dominating Southern California and making it synonymous with the Southern California beer scene,” Zad said.
That’s part of the reason why the company was excited to bring González on board as an investor. The former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, who was born in San Diego but grew up in Tijuana, has ties to a half-dozen restaurant projects throughout Southern California, according to Zad, and is an owner of six Jersey Mike’s locations.
“He is such a strong name in the LA community,” Zad said. “We are really excited to have him on board as an investor, and he is a great ambassador for us.”
Zad declined to disclose how much equity he gave up during the round, but said he would maintain a majority interest in the company.
When asked about the future prospects for the Mexican-themed brand as the so-called “browning of America” continues, Zad said the Calidad brand could resonate well with a growing Hispanic population in California and beyond.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino population in the U.S. grew by 1.1 million between 2016 and 2017, to 58.6 million. By 2025, that figure is expected to grow beyond 68 million.
“We are a Southern California brand through and through,” Zad told Brewbound. “The demographics aligned with us well, but we are not trying to do anything other than be authentic to where we are from. Anything we do in terms of brand play, or audience, starts in our own backyard. And that is the lifestyle we want to embrace.”
Specific 2019 production forecasts were not available as of press time, but Zad said the investment, coupled with a recent change to the company’s distribution network, would help it accelerate growth throughout the year.
A press release with additional information is included below.
Rapidly-Growing Calidad Beer Receives Seed Investment From Key Backers
Los Angeles, Calif. – April 17, 2019 – After a much-anticipated launch last November, Calidad Beer has rapidly gained popularity amongst beer aficionados and casual consumers alike. Entrepreneur Josh Zad founded Calidad after identifying a trend towards lighter, more approachable varietals like Mexican-style lagers as opposed to the hop-heavy ales and IPA’s which have defined the craft beer boom in recent years. Zad’s enormous success within the beverage industry first began with his founding of cult-favorites Alfred Coffee and Alfred Tea Room – with 14 locations spanning Los Angeles, Japan, and Austin. His passion for reinventing common, everyday beverages with his trademark brand-first approach led Zad to the beer industry where he approached this venture with the same attention to design, brand storytelling, and consumer experience. For Calidad, Zad tapped award-winning Austin-based design house LAND to develop the brand’s logo, illustrations, typography, and package design, and Venice-based web developers Herman-Scheer to create the website.
“For my first foray from the brick and mortar world into the CPG space, I wanted to take a fresh and energized approach to beer. The concept was to take the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world, flip it upside down and put my own twist on it. The question was: ‘How can we create a Mexican-style lager in our own great state of California that is easy drinking, feels authentic in your hand, and tastes just as good – if not better – than the long-standing imports we have come to love over the years?’,” says founder Josh Zad. Adding, “As with Alfred, I knew I wanted to create a full lifestyle package for Calidad. We spent a lot of time nailing down the color and details of the package design, developing the brand’s touchpoints and merchandise, and of course ensuring the quality and taste of the actual liquid.”
Strategic investors in the sports, finance and food & beverage industries quickly backed Zad on the idea, helping complete an oversubscribed raise pegged for production, marketing, and distribution. Key players behind the brand include MLB star and Tijuana-native, Adrián González, who was closely involved in ensuring the finest quality and most authentic Mexican-style lager from inception. Other investors include founders of mega-startups sweetgreen and MeUndies who saw immediate potential in the company.
“I instantly thought [Calidad Beer] was a great concept – a locally-made Mexican-style beer with a great taste. I was also confident in Josh’s expertise and knew that he could create not only a high-quality beverage, but an entire brand to bring it to the next level,” says Calidad investor and MLB icon Adrián González.
Less than six months after launching, Calidad Beer is now available in more than 300 bars and restaurants throughout Southern California as well as select liquor and retail stores, including BevMo! and Total Wine & More. Most recently, Calidad secured a spot at the iconic Hollywood Bowl for the 2019 season. Backed by a strong digital marketing presence (Instagram: @calidad), a camera-ready headquarters in West Hollywood (“Casa de Calidad,” naturally), and a heavy festival presence, Calidad Beer continues its quest to become the QUALITY Mexican-style cerveza of choice for beer drinkers everywhere.