Ballast Point Brewing: Leading the Craft Beer Revolution
The craft beer market has seen tremendous growth in popularity in the last decade. Though overall beer consumption was down last year, the craft beer market saw an increase of over 17%. According to the Brewers Association, there are now over 3,000 craft beer producers in the U.S., producing over $14 Billion dollars in sales in 2013.
California is home to the largest number of craft brew producers. Over 380 breweries call the Golden State home. One of the most successful of these companies is Ballast Point Brewing Company. Ballast Point was launched back in 1996, in the back room of a home brew supplies store in San Diego. Since its humble origins, Ballast Point now distributes it’s award winning ales to 25 states nationwide.
Ballast Point recently took home 2 medals at the World Beer Cup in April; a bronze for their Navigator Doppelbock, and a gold medal for their popular Sculpin IPA. This was the second World Beer cup gold medal for Sculpin. Sculpin IPA earned a gold medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup, where Ballast Point was also named Champion Small Brewery.
Legal Ink Magazine recently had an opportunity to chat with Hilary Cocalis, Director of Marketing at Ballast Point, to find out more about Ballast Point and what’s on tap.
LIM: How has the changing U.S. demographics affected the craft beer market?
HC: Craft beer is most popular among younger legal drinkers, millenials. These customers want flavor and want to sample new things – which is good for what we try to accomplish. We are always exploring new flavors and techniques, not just because the customer wants it, but because that’s what’s interesting to us. IPAs are popular right now, but they likely won’t be forever; we can’t just rely on the popularity of Sculpin. The people are asking for it now, but we want to keep innovating. And I think that’s what customers expect from us as well.
LIM: What is your current production levels in terms of barrels of beer and how many states do you distribute to?
HC: At our Scripps Ranch brewery, which is our current main production brewery, we’re at capacity and are set up to produce about 100K barrels a year. We are currently nearing completion of a larger production brewery nearby that will add capacity right away, and will eventually quadruple our production capabilities. We are currently in 25 states, with hopes of expanding distribution when we can expand capacity. We also distribute globally in about a half dozen countries, including Japan, Korea, Australia, and Brazil.
LIM: What is the biggest issue you have in getting into new markets?
HC: Our biggest issue right now is not having enough beer to send to new markets. We haven’t entered as many new markets as we’d like because we don’t want to enter a market and just be a flash in the pan. We want to be sure when we enter a new market, we can consistently send fresh beer there, and right now we are totally at capacity. We have the fortunate problem of not having enough beer to sell, but we are addressing that with our new brewery.
LIM: Is canned beer a growth segment for BallastPoint?
HC: Yes; canning is still just a small part of the products we produce, but we are investing in a high-speed canning line at our new brewery to help meet demand. There is no longer a stigma surrounding canned beer; the technology around cans is actually better for the beer in many cases, and most craft fans just want the ability to take the beers they want to drink with them in places they can’t take glass. That’s primarily what motivated us – we wanted to take our own beer on boating trips, camping, tailgating, etc.
LIM: With over 3,000 crafts brewers in the U.S, – Is there enough shelf space?
HC: The short answer is no. But, I would argue that retailers are making more shelf space for us; as the demand for this segment grows, so does the space available for craft products. But at the end of the day, there’s not enough to support all of the great craft beers out there.
LIM: What beer do you recommend for the dog days of summer?
HC: Session IPAs are really popular right now, but we’ve been brewing ours, Even Keel, for five or six years; it’s the perfect San Diego summer beer – pretty hoppy, but light, and low alcohol (3.8%). We released this beer in cans earlier this summer, and we’ve gotten a great response.