Portland, Oregon-based Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) is launching a new standalone business unit, the pH Experiment, dedicated to creating, incubating and accelerating growth with new products and experiences that put drinkers’ needs first. The growth unit is the evolution of CBA’s Innovation team and its pH Experiment beverage initiative, which launched in 2018 as a litmus test to explore opportunities outside of beer, as well as recent consumer research projects with the Yale Center for Customer Insights and global consultancy Prophet.
“What’s particularly exciting about the pH Experiment is that we’re mining a vast trove of recently acquired consumer insights and tapping into the strength of CBA’s infrastructure to anticipate and quickly deliver on emerging needs,” said Andy Thomas, CEO of CBA. “With the pH Experiment, we now have the vehicle to unleash our innovation engine and create relevant new products and experiences for today’s drinkers, as we continue focusing on increasing topline growth and shareholder value.”
The pH Experiment will expand on the innovation team’s test-and-learn platform, tapping into CBA’s resources, distribution capability and deep consumer research insights to quickly develop, test and evaluate a range of new products in select markets across the U.S. The first new products will launch in spring, with additional tests planned this year. CBA will add new resources to support pH Experiment product testing and market launches.
“Our goal is to provide long-term, sustainable growth for CBA,” said Karmen Olson, general manager of the pH Experiment. “We’ll do that by combining the spirit and agility of an innovation startup with the muscle of a large craft brewer, working side by side with drinkers, retailers and wholesalers to quickly get products to market, listen to feedback, iterate and either expand or fail fast.”
Pre Aperitivo Spritz will be the first new product in market from the pH Experiment. Developed by CBA Innovation Brewmaster Thomas Bleigh, Pre Aperitivo Spritz is a 6.6 percent ABV dry, botanical bubbly with an herbaceous bitterness that stays unapologetically true to a classic Italian aperitivo. Available in 12-oz. six-pack cans and clear bottles, Pre is naturally gluten free with only one gram of sugar.
“During focus groups with drinkers, ‘Aperol Spritz’ was named as a favorite summer beverage, ranking No. 2 behind only beer, so we knew there was an opportunity to do something unique,” said Bleigh. “With Pre, I created an infusion of herbs and spices that I believe really deliver on a classic aperitivo experience.”
While craft beer will continue to be at the heart of what CBA brings to consumers nationwide, the pH Experiment will be focused on anticipating and identifying drinkers’ needs. As opportunities arise, the unit also will explore options to partner or access resources beyond current capabilities. The pH Experiment is targeting $25 million in revenue by 2025.
Formed in 2008, CBA is headquartered in Portland, Oregon and operates breweries and brewpubs across the U.S. CBA beers are available in all 50 U.S. states and 30 different countries around the world.