Where Untitled Art is Finding Flavor Ideas ​for New Line​

The term Newtro is a Korean word — a portmanteau of new and retro — to describe how the newer generation is bringing back retro ideas.

“I thought it was a very appropriate name for this new crazy American that’s bringing back the traditional Makgeolli,” explained Untitled Art’s Levi Funk.​ Makgeolli is an unfiltered Korean rice wine with a cloudy, milky appearance. It’s something that Funk feels can become a new line of hard seltzers for the brand where the brand can continue to innovate.​

Newtro​ comes from the mind of Funk as he likes to work to push the notion of flavors forward.​ ​UA’s version​ of ​Makgeolli will emphasize bold, fruit-forward flavors like mango and tart lychee, and it will feature a slightly creamy texture similar to rice milk​. ​​ABV will weigh in around 5-6%.

​”​I feel like I’m always fascinated if I can find a beverage, particularly, but any food or beverage that I haven’t heard of, or any fruit that I haven’t heard of,” Funk told Brewer. “Most of the time, you try a new beverage that you haven’t heard of, and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, but I don’t really want it.'”

A fellow employee at UA — Lefan Shi — is originally from China and shared the Korean drink with Funk.

​”This kind of hits on a lot of the elements that the craft beer nerd segment goes after,” he said. “It’s sweet, it has that opacity. It’s a creamy texture. But there’s also some flavors in traditional Makgeolli that I don’t think the American crowd is really gonna want.”

That meant looking to rebuild it for an American audience.

“It’s not going to be Makgeolli, but it’s inspired by this Korean beverage,” he admitted. “How could you make it into something that would be a stepping stone for an American? I think Americans could drink this and have no idea what Makgeolli is or any expectation of that, and enjoy it.

“Then maybe that opens them up to trying other Asian drinks? Sure.”

The Asian segment, ​Funk feels, ​has a more advanced flavor palate​.

​​”There are some savory versions of beverages in Asia that I would love exploring​,” he said, but he said he knows the audience may not be receptive, recalling a Michelada ​that wasn’t a success for UA, who isn’t afraid to do anything at least once.

​”I would love to find a new audience where I could explore different flavor categories​,” he said. ​

Mark Hegedus​, who joined UA this year as its CCO​, said something like this portfolio addition and the exploration of cannabis are new ideas the brewery — which is contracted brewed with Wisconsin’s Octopi Brewing — are ways of helping build future orders from distributors.

​”What we’re trying to do now is just add some pre-planning process to the equation to help us understand the scope of the opportunity ahead of us,” he said. “In the past, if Levi were just coming out with a new project, and we might put it out there and then tell distributors, hey, if you’re interested in this new product, give us an idea how many cases you need, and we’d kind of build that order and ship it.

“Now we’re starting to try and get a little more … even 90-day visibility to say, here’s the product, here’s what it’s going to look like, and here’s the background story. Maybe you can pre-sell it with some of your best accounts and give us some feedback. Then we can build the right production plan for it. … Our team is now starting to visualize how much we think we can create in a batch. So instead of just making 100 [barrels], maybe we can make 200 or 300 in that first go around.”

Newtro is tentatively slated for release in late 2022.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *