While Wheaties isn’t actually in the beer, it’s a Hefeweizen, a style typically made with more than 50% wheat. This makes it a natural fit for the Wheaties brand name, Tucker Gerrick, marketing director at Fulton Beer, told Beverage Daily.
“It’s a weird one for us to realize,” Gerrick said of working together with Wheaties on a beer. “But it’s all really happening.”
With both companies based in Minnesota they already had strong ties: Fulton employs some former General Mills workers, including one of the brewery’s founders.
Crafting the perfect craft beer
“Wheaties had input for sure, but they said ‘You guys are the beer wizards, we trust you.’”
For years, Fulton's owners have been intrigued at the prospect of working with Wheaties on a collaboration beer. Both companies hail from the same city with a similar passion for raw ingredients. It was during a Fulton-Wheaties sampling session that the name HefeWheaties was first suggested.
The limited run beer is brewed with water, malted wheat, malted barley, hops (from Germany, US and Australia) and yeast for American-style wheat beers. Gerrick said the two companies worked together as partners to create the perfect brew.
“Wheaties had input for sure, but they said ‘You guys are the beer wizards, we trust you,’” Gerrick said. “We talked through flavoring. They had their hand in it, but they weren’t about to be heavy handed about it.”
‘Beer brings people together’
Why did the two companies come together? Gerrick said it came from having mutual friends and mutual respect between Fulton and General Mills, as members of the two companies had been throwing ideas back and forth over the past few months.
“People always say that beer brings people together; well, it brought two people together and it brought two brands together,” Gerrick said. “I know it kind of simplifies it, but when you boil it down to the essence of what it is, these people are in our backyard. They see eye to eye on a lot of things we want to do.”
To Gerrick and the Fulton team, the partnership doesn’t feel like a grab for attention, sales or reach; it feels like an opportunity to have a partner. The partnership spawned new artwork, new packaging and a whole new beer, as Fulton has never brewed a Hefeweizen.
“We’re two [companies] from the same zone; we just wanted to do something for the area,” Gerrick said. “Not put too much stress on it. We’ll have some fun with it and see where it takes us.”
Is there a future?
Fulton, which has been open officially for about five years, has grown operations rapidly in its time thus far. It has opened two breweries and gone from limited distribution across the city at the outset to the entire state by the end of 2014. By the end of this month, the company will distribute to five states.
However, those looking for HefeWheaties outside of the Minneapolis area may be out of luck.
Starting August 26, HefeWheaties will be sold solely in Minneapolis’ Twin Cities on a limited run at the taproom and retailers. But neither Wheaties or Fulton have ruled out further production, as Petz and Gerrick said the brewery wants to wait and see how people react to it.
“If it’s something everybody loves, we’ll obviously consider doing it again in a bigger and more widely distributed way in the future,” Petz said.