Coors Light Takes a Page From the Craft Beer Playbook

MillerCoors is rolling out a seasonal beer for its Coors Light brand. It's a smart move, given the success craft beer has with seasonal offerings.

May 3, 2014 at 9:00AM

When the industry rags reported on MillerCoors' new summer offering, they referred to it as a new "citrus Coors Light variant." Let's not mince words: This is a seasonal beer, and MillerCoors got the idea from the craft beer movement.

Coorslight Summer Brew

Source: MillerCoors.

Before we get into how amazing Coors Light Summer Brew probably tastes, lets take a look at a few telling statements from our publicly traded craft brewers to get a sense of how important seasonal offerings are to their industry.

From the most recent annual filing by Boston Beer (NYSE:SAM): "Shipment volume for the core brands increased by 10.4% to 2,727,000 barrels, due primarily to increases in Angry Orchard, Twisted Tea and Samuel Adams Seasonals."

Right there you've got the telling proof of how important variety is to a brewer's portfolio. The only actual beer even mentioned by this craft king are its seasonal offerings; the other growth drivers at the company are hard ciders and teas. The trend continued for Boston Beer through the first quarter of this year. This past Wednesday the company reported its depletions (or sales from wholesaler to retailer) grew 34% year over year, again driven by its seasonal offerings. It introduced Samuel Adams Cold Snap as its spring seasonal for the first time, which sold well before giving way to its powerhouse Summer Ale. The one-two seasonal punch combined with the strength of the company's existing portfolio and the introduction of an India Pale Ale drove quarterly revenue up 35%. Results like that really demonstrate the power of variety.

Let's move on to the 10-K filing from Craft Brew Alliance (NASDAQ:BREW): "During 2013, we added a Summer Variety Pack to complement our Winter Variety Pack released in 2012. Both Variety Packs include beers from Kona, Widmer Brothers and Redhook to satisfy consumers' thirst for two popular trends in craft beer: seasonal beers and variety packs."

It's not easy to be a craft beer drinker, awash in thousands of potential choices for what to imbibe next. Variety packs are the obvious answer when your consumer wants to try everything but doesn't necessarily want to risk buying 12 of any one kind of beer they might not like. Craft Brew Alliance knows this, and now MillerCoors knows it, too.

MillerCoors has some practice with seasonal implementation, and I'm not surprised it will be the first macrobrewer to launch a true summer beer. The company's craft shop, Tenth and Blake, puts out numerous varieties of Blue Moon every year, to the delight of its rabid fan base. In fact, Blue Moon and the company's other craft beers are carrying the weight for MillerCoors in recent years, as sales flag for its bigger brands like Miller Lite and Coors Light.

Of course, craft brewers have a little bit more flexibility when it comes to brewing new beers on a whim. Here's more from the Craft Brew 10-K:

Each of our breweries is modern, has flexible production capabilities, and is designed to produce beer in smaller batches relative to the national domestic brewers, thereby allowing us to brew a wide variety of brand offerings. We believe that our investment in brewing and logistics technologies enables us to minimize brewery operating costs and consistently produce innovative beer styles.

Management goes on to comment about not one but two special beers it rolled out in promotion with the Super Bowl and Buffalo Wild Wings, respectively. And therein lies the power of the smaller brewer. Anheuser-Busch InBev can put Bud Light in a different can for the Super Bowl or the World Cup, but it's still Bud Light. These smaller, more dynamic brewers can capitalize on unique opportunities to create entirely original beers that boost their bottom lines, even if it's only for a month or two.

In that sense, Coors Light Summer Brew is less of a gimmick and more of a wholehearted attempt to step outside of the Big Beer box and take a page from the craft beer playbook. The beer launches in select markets Memorial Day weekend, and it will be an extremely interesting story to watch. Can it compete with craft beer seasonals? Probably not, but it's not necessarily meant to. It's meant to drive sales at a flagging brand, the way Sam Adams' seasonals drive sales at Boston Beer. Only time will tell if the initiative is successful, but I like the effort here. 

Your credit card may soon be completely worthless
The plastic in your wallet is about to go the way of the typewriter, the VCR, and the 8-track tape player. When it does, a handful of investors could stand to get very rich. You can join them -- but you must act now. An eye-opening new presentation reveals the full story on why your credit card is about to be worthless -- and highlights one little-known company sitting at the epicenter of an earth-shaking movement that could hand early investors the kind of profits we haven't seen since the dot-com days. Click here to watch this stunning video.

Aimee Duffy has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Boston Beer and Buffalo Wild Wings. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers