​The 2 Expansion Pieces on the Mind of SweetWater

In the November/December issue of Brewer, we tackle the annual Expert Outlook, focusing on 2022 and what it may bring to breweries across the country. With its tagline being “Don’t Float the Mainstream,” Atlanta’s SweetWater has always skirted the norm, from having a West-Coast lineup in the Southeast of the US to being acquired by Aphria Inc., a Canadian cannabis company in late 2020.

Now, heading into 2022, CMO​ ​Brian Miesieski discussed with Brewer some expansion aspects that one of the largest breweries in the country is planning on doing. Two parts stick out most.

Heading West

In July, SweetWater announced that it was moving into the former home of Red Truck Brewing as a satellite production brewery and taproom, located in Fort Collins, Colorado. That will help open up the western half of the US for the brand.

“From an expansion standpoint, we started the year in 26 states, and now we’re in 40, officially,” Miesieski said. “So we’re heading west after a little bit of a​ ​pump-the-brakes on expansion​.”

 Part of that slow down was​ ​due to the competition becoming so fierce with 8​,​000​-​plus breweries in the US and then the pandemic came into play, Miesieski said.

“We ​just had to be a little smarter and strategic with it,” he said. “[Fort Collins] will plant our stake heading west, but it’ll also help us get our brands as far west as you could go in the continental US.

“We’ll be hitting California, Oregon, Washington, early next year, so [we have] a lot going on from an expansion standpoint.”

Diverse Portfolio​

​At the same time,​ SweetWater is also expanding from a portfolio and innovation standpoint,

“Not only are we continuing to evolve​,​ innovate and renovate​​ from beer standpoint​ —​ we’ve since jumped across, out of the beer segment and​,​ like a lot of other brewers out there — and​ have gotten into seltzer, even FMB’s and RTDs, as well.

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​”​So we are basically a total beverage alcohol company at this point, we’re not slowing down​,” he said.​

Miesieski​ said that ​younger legal drinking age consumers​ are​ bouncing all over the place​ with what they drink.

​”​They’re looking to consume​ … food and beverages that are maybe perceived to be better for them or they’re just​​ ​consuming better in general — lesser calories, things like that —​ ​and on different occasions​,” he said​​.​ ​”We realized that this is something that as the consumer evolves, we need to evolve as well.​”

he says as long as ​SweetWater do​es​ something that is on brand and speaks to ​its brand DNA and ​from its lifestyle standpoint,​ it works.

“At the same time we’re putting out a real premium​,​ quality beverage that has a unique point of difference, and sets itself apart from other brands that are out there​,” he said. ​”​We really came to terms with it and got pretty excited about it too.​”​

SweetWater Oasis​ launched earlier ​in 2021 and the brand launched an Oasis​ ​hard seltzer lemonade​ recently as well along with plans for a hard tea​ line.

​”If you know​​ SweetWater​,​ our mantra is don’t float the mainstream and that’s exactly what we’re doing with the beverages outside of craft beer​,” ​Miesieski said.

Photos courtesy SweetWater

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