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Craft Beer CEO Keeps Clear Head On Sales

How has the Craft Brewers Alliance fared without Goose Island?

Michaelson: We feel really good about our progress and positive about our strategy. Our relationship with Goose Island really was a very positive relationship, but it was primarily an investment in that they sold their own brand and we sold our own.

There were select markets where we helped each other out a little bit, but it really wasn't the centerpiece of our business. It really was more of a financial partnership, so it hasn't had a major impact from that standpoint. What we have been doing in the time since the Goose Island discussions in the spring is had the opportunity to roll out our portfolio strategy and new initiatives.

In that time, our business has been going forward in a very positive way and has been getting a very positive reception from consumers, wholesalers and retailers and, most importantly, our top line is heading in the right direction.

How have your Redhook, Widmer Brothers and Kona brands been performing?

Michaelson: Kona continues to be a very strong brand. It's a brand that people can really have fun with and be excited about, and that connection to paradise in Hawaii is something people can relate to. Kona's been growing around 30%, which is spectacular and presents a lot of opportunity.

Redhook actually had a very positive quarter. We're seeing positive growth in Redhook, which is something we haven't seen in a number of years. It's actually been down in the last few years, but it's now turning the corner and we're getting a good response to the new bottle and packaging. I think some people are discovering it for the first time and some people are rediscovering it.

With Widmer, we're having a lot of fun with beers that reflect Kurt and Rob's roots, which is creating unique interpretations of styles. With the Rotator IPA, we're introducing a new IPA on a rotating basis to explore that category. The 924 Series with some of our high-end beers like Pitch Black IPA and our Nelson Imperial IPA have been doing really well. In fact, our morning conference call indicated that those are 10% of our portfolio sales at this point, so it's kind of a fun, new and hopefully significant business addition.

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