Stem Ciders Now Owns Post Brewing’s Howdy Beer
The sale means broader distribution for Howdy and more leverage for Stem.
Howdy, y’all. That’s what Dave Duffy, chief commercial officer at Stem Ciders, hopes drinkers will be ordering this summer. The Colorado company has been one of the state’s major cider players since it opened in 2014, when Denver drinkers were in the thick of a cocktail craze in a state that had always been known for microbrews. Now Stem is making moves into the beer space with its purchase of Howdy Beer, a “western pilsner” created by the Post Chicken & Beer in 2014.
First—and foremost, for fans: You’ll still be able to get Howdy with the Post’s fried chicken at any of its seven Front Range restaurants. (The Post retains ownership of the rest of its beers.) Howdy will also be available at sister restaurants Jax Fish House, West End Tavern, and Centro Mexican Kitchen. But now, Stem will handle the beer’s sales and marketing, and its distributors will get the brand into other markets. The brew has been, and will continue to be, made in Colorado at both the Post’s brewing facility and at Denver contract brewery Sleeping Giant Brewing Company. (The latter brewed for Station 26 Brewing Co., WeldWerks Brewing, and Black Shirt Brewing Co, among others, over the years).
Duffy acknowledges Howdy’s recipe will change a bit. The OG Howdy, he says, is “a really unique American-style pilsner, with a little more hops than an international pilsner.” Now, recipe’s been tweaked in order “to bring down some of the hop bitterness.” The result, he says, will be “a little less craft beer and a little more ‘everyman’ beer.”
That’s also how Stem plans on marketing the product. Instead of emphasizing the “craft beer” label, says Duffy, “We think it’ll have more broad appeal if we position it somewhere between premium and craft beer.” He compares its price point to brews like Shiner Bock, Yuengling, and Michelob Ultra.
Ultimately, Stem’s goal is to build a portfolio of Colorado brands to market across the U.S. “We want to build a portfolio that doesn’t do the same thing over and over again,” Duffy emphasizes. Acquiring Howdy Beer further diversifies the process that began in February 2020, when Stem began selling Boulder Beer. Sleeping Giant took over brewing operations from the 40-year-old brewery in late 2019 in order to save the brand from extinction. Soon afterwards, a partnership between Stem Ciders and Sleeping Giant meant the cidery was selling two “mutually exclusive products”—so-called because consumers tend to stick to one type of beverage, whether it’s wine, craft beer, seltzer or ready-to-drink canned cocktails—in markets outside Colorado. Now, both Boulder Beer and Stem Ciders are for sale in 22 states.
Howdy’s road trip is just getting started. It’s already available in Texas, and will be in stores throughout Colorado by the middle of July. Distribution details in other states are still being finalized, but the plan is to have Howdy on shelves in Tennessee and Oklahoma later this summer. After that, notes Duffy, Stem will seek out distribution wherever retailers are most excited for the product. The Post owner Dave Query sees Howdy’s sale to Stem as a the best opportunity for the brand to grow: “While making a ton of beer is now something we do, it doesn’t mean that we know how to market and distribute and assure its best success.” He continues, “We launched six beers into cans and bombers and sold them in liquor stores and restaurants
across Colorado [when the Post opened]. What a pain in the ass it was. In this tough Colorado craft beer climate, taking a beer to market ain’t for beginners.”
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