4 Pines takes one small step into USA
4 Pines Brewing Company has started production of beers including a ‘Downunder IPA’ in the United States, leveraging off the global exposure generated by its Vostok Space Beer.
The AB InBev subsidiary introduced its beers to Americans in April coinciding with Yuri’s Night, a global celebration of humanity’s achievements in space, named for the first human to launch into space, Yuri Gagarin.
“Ever since we announced the Space Beer years and years ago, we’ve always had random consumers, and lots of them, reaching out to us,” 4 Pines founder Jaron Mitchell told Brews News.
“We sort of thought, we’re mad not to have a little look here. Now, obviously having the added muscle of ABI to help us out, it seemed like a no brainer to have a crack and see how we go.”
4 Pines launched its beers at two Yuri’s Night parties held on successive weekends in California and Florida, both of which are key states in the American space industry.
“It was an awesome platform to launch the brand,” said Mitchell. “I think there’s like half a million space industry employees alone in the US, let alone their families and friends.
“You don’t realise it in Australia but space is actually really deep-rooted in their culture from the Space Race of years ago.
“Now you have all these cool new space [ventures] that are coming out – SpaceX and Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin – and it’s kind of like the Space Race is heating up again but it’s now being done by entrepreneurial people from all sorts of industries.
“It’s not just a government-led thing anymore, so it’s got this really cool energy around it. So I guess that’s where the opportunity was,” Mitchell said.
4 Pines is brewing beers for the American market at Sleeping Giant, a contract production facility in Denver, Colorado.
“If we brewed them in Brookvale [Sydney] and shipped them over, it just wouldn’t be the best representation of what we do.
“You know what it’s like when you taste American beers here and then you go and taste them over there, they’re completely different beers.
“We were of the belief, particularly with the US market, that it’s evolved enough now that as long as you’re transparent and you’re telling consumers what you’re doing… we’re hoping they’ve evolved enough to get it and I think a lot have.”
Mitchell said it was preferable to brew at a dedicated contract facility rather than one of the many ABI-owned craft breweries, which have their own priorities.
He said Sleeping Giant’s facilities are configured similarly to that of 4 Pines in Brookvale, and the Denver brewer has an excellent track record, including four medals at the most recent World Beer Cup.
4 Pines’ American range comprises the Stout (Vostok Space Beer), Indian Summer Ale and Downunder IPA, which is the Southern Hemisphere edition of its In Season IPA, rebranded for the American market.
“Other than the Stout, all the recipes that we do there are ones that showcase Australian and Kiwi ingredients, so it’s a bit of a taste of the Southern Hemisphere,” Mitchell said.
The Downunder IPA appears to have taken cues from Australian winemakers’ use of critters to sell their wares, with a label featuring a kangaroo, koala and emu along with a surfboard and boomerang.
The label for the Indian Summer Ale is also chock full of Aussie stereotypes, featuring graphics including a barbecue, thongs and the beach.
“It makes me almost cringe every time I say Downunder IPA,” Mitchell admitted.
“But you know what it’s like, you’ve got that kind of Australian larrikinism and you just try a few things and you think it’s naff, but they think it’s awesome!”
4 Pines is being distributed by BevStrat in the USA, with current retail channels including Bevmo liquor stores in California.