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Where a craft innovator sees the alcohol market headed

Last updated July 07, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Kyle Sherrer is the owner of Backpack Brands of Newburgh, NY, which puts out three craft brands:

  • Graft Cider, a craft cider that innovates on flavors. Think cutting edge craft beer, but for cider.
  • Hudson North Cider, a hazy dry cider brand that's lower in sugar than their competitors (like Austin Eastciders, for example).
  • Ritual Hard Kombucha, a west-coast style hard kombucha made in NY.

We recently sat down and spoke with Kyle about a range of topics:

  • How each of his brands came to be
  • The swings and misses he's faced along the way
  • Where he sees the non-beer craft market—and really the entire craft market—headed in the next few years as preferences change and mature.

The biggest takehome on the last point: In the current alcohol market, producers will need to keep on innovating in order to stand out, so that different-SKU-each-week treadmill needs to keep on turning, and maybe even accelerate.

This was a very interesting conversation with someone who's found a good deal of success in a broad range of markets, so it's well worth a watch or listen. His experience won't apply directly to most readers here (who own/manage bars and restaurants), but learning how innovative, cutting-edge producers strategically map out their next steps is interesting in it's own right. And there are definitely some broader lessons that can be applied to any alcohol-related business.

Check out the full interview here: