A frequent haunt of late for Guy Fieri’s red convertible isn’t a diner, a drive-in, or a dive, but rather Stratford, Connecticut-based Two Roads Brewing. The Food Network star and the regional craft brewery have teamed up to launch Flavortown SpikedFruit Punch, a 6% ABV flavored malt beverage (FMB) that will hit retailers later this month. It “likens back to a Hawaiian Punch for all intents and purposes,” Two Roads co-founder, president and CEOBrad Hittle told Brewbound. Flavortown Spiked Fruit Punch will launch in 12 oz. can 6-packs in November, with 19.2 oz. single-serve cans to follow in January. A variety 8-pack with more punch and tea flavors will roll out in time for spring resets.
The collaboration began a year ago when Two Roads was exploring its portfolio strategy and inno-vation conversations kept circling back to flavor. Who better to lead the charge than the mayor ofFlavortown himself?
Fieri – the spiky-haired, gregarious TV chef who hosts Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Guy’sGrocery Games, among other shows – has become synonymous with his Flavortown catch phrase and vast flavor-centric business empire, with 17 restaurant concepts worldwide.
Two Roads decided to shoot its shot and fired off an email to Fieri’s agent.”
“It was like going fishing,” Hittle said. “We cast it out there not expecting a nibble and we got a bite.It was fantastic.”
“His agent immediately responded saying we’re looking for an innovative company like you,” he continued. “You’re not bureaucratic, like some of the bigger brewers.”
Flavortown Spiked isn’t Fieri’s first foray into beverage-alcohol. In 2022, he starred as the mayor ofthe futuristic Land of Loud Flavors in a Super Bowl commercial for Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Bud LightSeltzer Hard Soda.
The Two Roads’ partnership goes deeper than Fieri appearing in ads. Fieri has had input at every step of the process, from flavor development to ingredient procurement. The Flavortown Spiked line uses real fruit juice and “really high-quality teas,” an investment Hittle said was necessary to go to market.
“Our COGS are going to be higher, but it’s worth it – otherwise, what are you competing with?” hesaid. “You’re competing with an average mainstream liquid proposition, which there’s a lot of out there, and that’s a waste of our time and his.”
Fieri has already been generous with his time. He’s been on phone calls and Zoom meetings with the brewery’s distributor network and key national accounts. During the brewery’s annual distributor meeting earlier this fall, Fieri called in and chatted to the group more than twice as long as his allot-ted 15 minutes.
“Sometimes you get into these celebrity things and there’s an automatic level of trepidation,” Hittlesaid. “Because you’re dealing with celebrities, you don’t know how much they’re really going to getbehind it. And none of these will work if the celebrity doesn’t really activate it. If the celebrity’s justlending their name and face, you’re bound for failure, because the distributors and retailers and con-sumers aren’t going to get it.” Two Roads will lean into Fieri’s star power to support the Flavortown Spiked launch, with a scheduled feature as the exclusive FMB of Fieri’s Flavortown Tailgate broadcast during the Super Bowl. Fieri will also make in-person visits to on-premise retailers in his travels for Diners, Drive-Ins andDives, Hittle said.
“He is the real deal. He’s just a wonderful, warm, real person,” Hittle said. “He’s doing this because he’s excited about it, and he’s going to get behind it, which he’s already demonstrated. So we’re to-tally jacked up because we teamed up with somebody who’s perfect for this.”
At launch, Flavortown Spiked will be available in Two Roads’ full footprint, which stretches fromMaine to Virginia, and the company is “actively planning” to expand into the Carolinas, Georgia andFlorida, Hittle said. “This is a real opportunity for us to take our core items from our portfolio and work together with ourdistributors to do co-sale where you go in and you’ve got 19.2 oz. cans of Road 2 Ruin IPA along with19.2 ounce cans of Flavortown,” he said.
The decision to craft a product at 6% ABV was a conscious one, Hittle said.
“You don’t want to be too high where you’re one and done, but you want to be able to enjoy it,” hesaid. “And 4.5% to some people just isn’t enough oomph, so we like the zone we’re in. It certainlyhelps at the retail level as well.”
The FMB segment boasts the second-largest dollar share gains in the beer category in the 52-weekperiod through October 8, according to market research firm Circana. The segment’s dollar sales in-creased +18.2%, to $4.249 billion at multi-outlet grocery and convenience stores tracked by Circana.FMBs accounted for 9.31% of all beer category dollars during the period. In the convenience channel, FMBs’ gains are even stronger. The segment accounted for 10.78% of allbeer category dollars in c-stores, and its dollar sales increased +20.2%, to $2.774 billion, accordingto Circana. Last year, Two Roads’ production declined -1%, to 104,025 barrels of beer, which includes thecompany’s contract brewing output, according to the May/June issue of the Brewers Association’sNew Brewer. Stay tuned for further Brewbound coverage of Two Roads’ 2024 plans.