Expanding Brand Reach with Collaborations

​2SP Brewing recently announced a second release of a successful Coffee Stout that the Aston, Pennsylvania brewery did with convenience store chain, Wawa. Riding on the success of last year, the brewery beefed up the release by collaborating with Florida’s Coppertail and Virginia’s Hardywood Park to create versions for the Wawa’s in those markets as well and expand the relationship between brands.

​”It’s a great opportunity for us to be in the same room with the finished product and talk with customers who are eagerly awaiting it,” explained Michael Contreras, 2SP Brewing Company Director of Sales and Marketing. “Craft beer has come a long way and gained a lot of appreciation over the years. It’s still a select audience who really enjoys it, but there aren’t many new drinkers coming into craft these days.

“By working with Wawa, who has a universal appeal and obsession, it brings a lot of new potential craft drinkers to us. It’s rare these days and it brings us back to why we got into this business in the first place.”

​2SP created Winter Reserve Coffee Stout and added Reserve Reserve this year while Hardywood Park helped collaborate on Coffee Cake Reserve and Coppertail worked on the Reserve Vanilla Porter.

​All feature Wawa Winter Reserve Coffee as the primary ingredient. The brewery’s all underwent a cupping exercise with the coffee (see video) to determine the nuances of the beans in the blend.

​”​For the cupping exercise, we evaluated the individual components/origins that make up the Winter Reserve Blend to isolate specific inherent flavors from each origin​,” said Michael McLaughlin, Wawa Concept Development Manager​​. “​This step was critical, because it helped to showcase how a growing region or processing method delivers specific flavors to the coffee blend recipe (Ethiopia Natural – red and black fruit (raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry), Guatemala – chocolate and baking spices…etc) which in turn helped each brewer identify characteristic they could accentuate and focus on as they formulate their own beer recipe.

​”​The Blend was used for recipe inspiration, while the components helped to provide clarity for their vision.​”​

Choosing to partner with breweries across the ​Wawa territory was obviously a key marketing aspect to help further this brand. Contreras​ said ​​it was absolutely worthwhile to work with Hardywood and Coppertail.

​”​Brewers tend to fall into habits with their recipes​,” he said. “By collaborating​,​ it stretches brewers to try new approaches. Our [2SP Brewing Co.] brewer, Bob Barrar, is pretty well known amongst his peers for being a great stout brewer, as is Brian from Hardywood & Casey from Coppertail. But there is no ego with him or any of those guys and they really work on incorporating each other’s ideas into the recipe.

​”​Having Michael Mclaughlin from Wawa work with the guys was crucial because there is a lot of nuance to coffee that we often take for granted. He pointed out flavors to the brewers, who all enjoy coffee but may overlook what subtle flavors they are tasting. By focusing on the complexity of the coffee, the brewers formulated different recipes that complement the beer as much as the coffee.​”​

What ​Contreras hope​s​ that customers take away ​from the upcoming “Brew Tour” through select Wawa locations is​ first ​realizing it’s​ a great beer.

​”​Secondly, the idea that coffee ​and​ beer make a great combination and that collaboration can bring drinkers an exciting product,” he said​. ​”​Let’s be real, a lot of collaborations are kitsch. The novelty works well enough, people will buy it. We are not that clever to figure out how to do that and in Delco, our home just outside of Philly, we would get called out immediately for taking that route. This area is known for not putting up with any bullsh*t so our approach was to make all these beers fantastic.

​”​We spent the extra coin on Weller Bourbon barrel (the high end of Buffalo Trace) and the coffee we used — Winter Reserve is a high-end blend of beans from around the world.​”

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