Kombucha and cocktails: Molson Coors boosts low/no alcohol portfolio by moving beyond beer

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Wellraiser: Molson Coors' first adventure outside beer and cider in the UK
Wellraiser: Molson Coors' first adventure outside beer and cider in the UK

Related tags Molson coors kombucha Sparkling water

In 2018 Molson Coors purchased Clearly Kombucha in California, and this year it's launched a hopped sparkling water in the UK. The beer giant is increasing its presence in the no/low ABV arena by moving outside of its core beer zone.

Consumers are seeking more moderate choices and Molson Coors’ innovation team is trying to meet this by expanding its established brands and introducing different products to new markets, it says in its 2019 sustainability report.

“We’re especially excited about expanding our portfolio beyond beer to add more low- and no-alcohol products that support increasingly health-conscious consumers,”​ says the company.

Coming to the US this year: Coors Edge 

Quoting Nielsen data, Molson Coors observes that one third of beer drinkers have reduced their consumption; while a quarter are looking for alcohol choices that are compatible with wellness.

“As part of our strategy, we’re stepping further into the low- and no-alcohol category, which we believe is ripe for innovation as more drinkers globally look to moderate their consumption. We also believe it’s our responsibility to help reduce harmful drinking and support moderation.

"That’s why, by 2025, we aim to provide quality low- and no-alcohol choices in 100% of the countries where we have large brewing or significant selling operations. By providing more beverage options that are 3.5% ABV or lower, our brands can play a role in encouraging moderation.”

No and low alcohol beers are the obvious first step: particularly with the expansion of Coors Edge, a non-alcoholic lager that was launched in Canada in 2018 and is set to hit the US later this year.

“We will leverage our global brands that our consumers know and love to expand into the low- and no-alcohol category," ​says Molson Coors. 

"By innovating around our core brands that consumers already trust, we can help moderate drinkers find quality low- and no-alcohol alternatives.

"For example, in 2018, we launched Coors Edge, a refreshing non-alcoholic beer, in Canada with great success. After positive feedback on the product in Canada, we’re ready to bring Coors Edge to the US starting at the end of 2019.

"Following in the footsteps of Coors Edge, we will also be launching Staropramen 0.0% in the Czech Republic. By leveraging established brand trademarks like Coors and Staropramen, we can invite old and new consumers to try great-tasting options that support moderate consumption.”

"By thinking outside the bottle, we’re mapping the journey to a future where our portfolio includes innovative, new brewed beverages while retaining beer at its core"

Beyond beer

But expanding beyond beer opens up more opportunities, says Molson Coors, pointing to its moves into the non-beer arena with kombucha and sparkling water.

“We are excited about taking steps toward this new area for Molson Coors and our ambition to offer new types of refreshment for everyone,” ​the company says.

In 2018 it made its first acquisition of a non-alcoholic beverage brand, California’s Clearly Kombucha, a move it identified at the time as 'a step to build its growing non-alcoholic portfolio'.

Clearly Kombucha

Containing less than 0.5% ABV from natural fermentation, Clearly Kombucha's six flavors are all gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan-friendly, kosher and certified organic.

With the brand nurtured by craft and specialty import division Tenth and Blake (alongside beer brands such as Hop Valley, Saint Archer and Terrapin), Molson Coors is now expanding distribution of the brand in the western US region.

Across the Atlantic, this month Molson Coors has launched what it claims is the UK’s first hopped sparkling water brand: as well as being the brewer’s first UK launch outside the beer and cider category.

Called Wellraiser,​ the drink is billed as an “adult soft drink that gives consumers a different option to a diet soda or water”, with a ‘zingy, hoppy taste’ and a drink that is ‘naturally refreshing’.

The sugar-free sparkling water is made by combining natural hop extract and natural hop flavors with carbonated water, and is packaged in 330ml cans.

“We’re a brewer and cidermaker first and foremost, but our portfolio strategy is about making sure we respond to changing tastes and give adults a drink option for a broad range of occasions," ​observes Molson Coors UK marketing director Jim Shearer.

sparkling hop water inset

"Wellraiser is another step in that strategy, which you can see reflected in our global portfolio with Clearly Kombucha, for example, in the US.”​ 

Wellraiser has been launched in online supermarket Ocado to gauge the response ahead of a potential wider launch.

Calorie counting

Molson Coors’ beyond beer portfolio is also expanding with calorie reduced options.

Cape Line, for example, is a new range of 4.5% ABV cocktails that uses six natural ingredients and has 120 calories, while Movo, a 5.5% ABV 100-calorie canned wine spritzer, is made with all-natural ingredients and no added sugar. “Both these options aim to help consumers looking to cut down their sugar and alcohol intake,”​ says Molson Coors.

And another path already cleared for the company beyond beer is the new world of cannabis beverages​: with its joint venture with medicinal cannabis company HEXO developing non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages ready for when such products become fully legalised​ ​in Canada. 

As far as products seeking specifically to appeal to the moderate drinker go, however, the portfolio is only set to keep developing.  

“Our focus going forward is to keep growing our low- and no-alcohol and responsible choice brands,”​ says the company. 

“As we look at 2019 and beyond, we’re excited by the potential our innovation pipeline holds to take Molson Coors in new directions.

“By thinking outside the bottle, we’re mapping the journey to a future where our portfolio includes innovative, new brewed beverages while retaining beer at its core. The result is a more diversified brewed beverage company that offers more choices that help support alcohol moderation and reduce harmful drinking.”

Molson Coors: examples of no and low alcohol brands

Coors Edge: a premium non-alcoholic lager at 0.5% ABV, with 45 calories per 355ml can. “Made with the finest malted barley and all natural flavours to deliver superior taste... A refreshing golden lager with that classic Coors taste, containing less than 0.5% alcohol by volume, ensuring that you’ll always be in the moment.”

Clearly Kombucha: an organic sparkling fermented tea with added probiotics; less than 0.5% alcohol due to natural fermentation. 20 calories per 14 fl oz bottle

Wellraiser Sparkling Hopped Water: carbonated water infused with hop extract, launched August 2019.

Cape Line sparkling cocktails: 4.5% ABV, launched in April 2019

Movo 100 calorie wine spritzer, 5.5% ABV, launched in March 2019

Other non-alcoholic products from Molson Coors includes Bergenbier Non-Alcoholic; Cobra Zero; Coors Non-Alcoholic, Sharps and Staropramen Non-Alcoholic.

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