Sufferfest Beer Co. joins Sierra Nevada

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,633) Aug 23, 1996 California

    Sufferfest partnership marks first-ever acquisition for Sierra Nevada

    Chico, CA—Sufferfest Beer Company of San Francisco, CA will join Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. of Chico, CA and Mills River, NC, the breweries announced on Monday. Sierra Nevada will acquire 100 percent of Sufferfest, which is the company’s first-ever acquisition. The breweries stated shared values, commitment to innovation, and common goals as the root of the partnership.

    “While still in its infancy, Sufferfest is at the front of the wave of ‘functional’ alcoholic beverages,” said Sierra Nevada President and CEO Jeff White. “By joining with Sierra Nevada, Sufferfest will be better positioned to grow and continue to lead the way in a rapidly growing and highly competitive space.”

    Sufferfest, which launched in 2016, is beloved by athletes for its gluten-removed line of beers like its 95-calorie Kolsch brewed with bee pollen and its FKT (Fastest Known Time) Pale Ale brewed with salt and black currant.

    “The complementary nature of our offerings and their position at the cusp of this emerging category are not the only reasons Sufferfest made sense,” said White. “From the moment we met, it was clear that our two companies are deeply aligned in our values and our commitment to do the right thing.”

    Sufferfest is a Certified B Corporation and a values-driven company. Founder and CEO Caitlin Landesberg, a long-distance trail runner, started the company with a vision to create the perfect post-sweat beer for herself and fellow sufferers.

    “I’ve always craved a beer after a race, but when I couldn’t find a beer that agreed with my dietary and performance needs, it left a genuine void in the post-race social experience,” explained Landesberg. “The finish line is where we get to celebrate the ail, anguish and suffering we’ve all been through together. I so wanted to continue to be part of this occasion, but didn’t want to keep compromising on taste or ingredients.”

    A homebrewers course in 2012 followed by coursework at UC Davis enlightened her on the microbiology of beer and its many positive attributes. She started her quest to develop a beer by athletes, for athletes, and after years of improvements and sampling her beers among fellow runners, local heroes and professional athletes, Sufferfest Beer Company was born.

    “Sierra Nevada is the perfect fit,” explained Landesberg. “If it were any other company, this would not be a consideration for us. Sierra Nevada is a family-owned and operated business that isn’t driven by shareholder pressure to meet quarterly numbers,” she continued. “I’ve always been so impressed by their commitment to the communities they serve. They are really driven by their own north star.”

    “Sufferfest represents an authentic and genuine platform for us to connect with more and different people,” said White. “This isn’t something cooked up by an ad agency. Sufferfest is a group of tireless, deeply committed people who love to have fun. In other words, they feel like us.”

    About Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
    Founded in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is one of America’s premier craft breweries, highly regarded for using only the finest quality ingredients. The pioneering spirit that launched Sierra Nevada now spans both coasts with breweries in Chico, California and Mills River, North Carolina. Sierra Nevada has set the standard for craft brewers worldwide with innovations in the brewhouse as well as advances in sustainability. It is famous for its extensive line of beers including Pale Ale, Hazy Little Thing™, Torpedo®, Tropical Torpedo®, Hop Hunter® IPA, Nooner® Pilsner, Otra Vez™, Kellerweis®, Porter, Stout and a host of seasonal, specialty and limited release beers. Learn more at

    About Sufferfest
    Sufferfest Beer Company fuels active, healthy and passionate humans with premium quality beer. Born out of the needs of athletes and adventurers, we make award-winning functional beer for those who go the extra mile. We're committed to serving delicious beer that delivers more benefits without settling on taste or quality. Sufferfest Beer Co. is a certified B Corporation, because we’re dedicated to practicing environmental sustainability and positively impacting the communities in which we sweat, drink and celebrate. Whether you crushed it on the trails, had a big win at the office, flexed your weekend warrior, or shredded the gnar, you deserve our beer. From us to you: go hard, have fun, and enjoy the sufferfest. Learn more about why we sweat for our beer at

  2. zid

    zid Savant (956) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    ... all it took was a glance at a Summerfest can to make that realization.
    tzieser and FeDUBBELFIST like this.
  3. meefmoff

    meefmoff Zealot (560) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    "Sufferfest is at the front of the wave of ‘functional’ alcoholic beverages, said Sierra Nevada President and CEO Jeff White."

    Definitely not to be confused with the existing hundreds of very similar, but importantly different, 'functional alcoholic' beverages.
    oldbean, beertunes, rronin and 13 others like this.
  4. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (2,987) Oct 14, 2009 Texas

    I... did not see this coming.
    beertunes and HorseheadsHophead like this.
  5. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,388) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    "This isn’t something cooked up by an ad agency."
    Maybe not, but it sure reads like it. :rolling_eyes: I had to check the calendar - Nope, it's not April 1.
    I don't know, brewery employees "who love to have fun" - that's way down there on my list when I'm picking out beer.
    (But then, so is bee pollen, salt and black currant).
  6. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (883) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Very good point. It rather looks like a new niche is being explored, tapped, and marketed. I do understand the the symbiosis. Definitely more interesting than Michelob Ultra.
    russpowell, mikeinportc and Squire like this.
  7. Oktoberfiesta

    Oktoberfiesta Aspirant (253) Nov 16, 2013 New Mexico

    My area has tons of athletic types that ride their bikes to breweries. They enjoy all types of beers after their workout. They end up not really wanting to skimp on flavors, calories be damned.

    Who's drinking all these sub-100 calorie drinks? Many are , apparently.

    So their appeal is apparently they are gluten free? Very mediocre scores on UT. Their Ig page is a big ol hypefest. Can't believe SN would cave in . They can do all this on their own without the branding of this smaller company.
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,813) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    What does "cave in" mean here?

    schteve and mikeinportc like this.
  9. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,095) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    It's easier to ride a canoe downstream than paddle up and apparently SN is tapping into a new market. Good business decision I say.
    russpowell, schteve and AZBeerDude72 like this.
  10. ESHBG

    ESHBG Aspirant (231) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Looking at the big picture not too surprising, hopefully it works out for all involved. Does seem like SN is going through a reinvention of sorts and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
    Spikester and beertunes like this.
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,813) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I agree with you here. I think it is an consequence of the appointment of Jeff White (who has worked at MillerCoors several years) last October.
    Yeah, I am interested here too! From my reading on the other thread it seems that part of their 2019 strategy for growth is an increased advertising budget and introducing some 'shiny new things'. The acquisition of Sufferfest seems consistent with the latter. I had a co-worker who was very wise who would frequently comment about our management's decisions: "Never confuse motion with action". I wish Sierra Nevada good luck but the stuff they have been doing lately has the appearance of "motion" to me.


  12. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,640) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Premium Trader

    I could see this working. Buying a company that has already done all the R&D on this market and you suck them in and expand it. Their 6 packs seem to be in the $14 range and the 4 pack of pounders around between $9 and $11. I would assume that if they help with production and distribution this brand can move out of Cali and become nationwide with a smaller price point.
    drtth likes this.
  13. BayAreaJoe

    BayAreaJoe Defender (685) Nov 23, 2017 California

    Pretty expensive 5% beer that makes you feel pretentious if you haven't actually been exercising enough? Pass.
  14. Jaycase

    Jaycase Meyvn (1,253) Jan 13, 2007 Illinois

    Sufferfest Beer Company? The first order of the partnership should be to change that name. :wink:
  15. Number1Framer

    Number1Framer Initiate (123) Mar 13, 2016 Wisconsin

    As a diabetic I really want to try that Kolsch. As a beer drinker I know I will probably not care for it. But I still want to try it.
    beertunes, rronin and rgordon like this.
  16. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (553) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I first saw this announcement in my Facebook feed and I did a double-take. At first glance I thought it was a redesigned Summerfest.
    steveh and ESHBG like this.
  17. pjeagles

    pjeagles Initiate (140) May 29, 2005 New Mexico

    When does Sufferveza come out?
  18. zid

    zid Savant (956) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    I can't even keep them sorted properly in my mind as I read anything.
    steveh and BayAreaJoe like this.
  19. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (553) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Hmmm... You live in NY and may be suffering from lack of summer.
  20. BillManley

    BillManley Aspirant (220) Jul 2, 2008 Minnesota

    To be fair, Jeff White has worked at Sierra Nevada since 2013. He did work at Tenth and Blake (MC) for awhile but was at Boston Beer (Sam Adams) for 17 years prior to that. He isn't new to the organization, or craft beer, just new to the CEO role. FWIW he's also a smart MFer.
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,813) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    "As Systems Integration Director, White will oversee sales order processing, inventory management, and legal and information systems functions."
    I am uncertain of the breadth of his responsibility for "inventory management" but I sure wish that the "inventory" at my local retailers were fresher.

    pjeagles and beertunes like this.
  22. VAcrossr

    VAcrossr Aspirant (259) Jun 12, 2009 Virginia

    I'm interested to see if any complications arise with what was, previously for me, an unheard-of brewery with the same name as the Sufferfest cycling/yoga/strength training videos.
    beertunes likes this.
  23. jjamadorphd

    jjamadorphd Meyvn (1,050) Jul 21, 2012 Florida

    Have yet to try a gluten-free beer that I truly like, maybe SN will take what Sufferfest offers and make it into something, say, more drinkable...At the very least I will admit I am intrigued with this "bee pollen" business (but not so much with the pepper...)
  24. SirLeaflock

    SirLeaflock Initiate (16) Jul 27, 2018 Wisconsin

    What's with advertising beers as crushable these days? And Bell's Lampshade ale? Is craft beer over any semblence of promoting responsible drinking?
    breadwinner likes this.
  25. stevepat

    stevepat Devotee (452) Mar 12, 2013 California

    what exactly are your issues with the word crushable and the name lampshade ale?
    SammyJaxxxx likes this.
  26. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,640) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Premium Trader

    Their beers are not gluten free, they are gluten reduced. They are produced like most other beers of their style and then an enzyme is added that causes the gluten to break down, separate and denature. There is still some there, just a very low level. Stone Delicious is brewed the same way. I believe Stone uses Clarity-Ferm, not sure what Sufferfest is using. There are a good many beers that are actually gluten reduced. But most of the brewers don't advertise this.
    jjamadorphd and ESHBG like this.
  27. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,705) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    Sweet Boneless Jesus.

    "Joined" = 100% owned by. Okaaaay then.

    Not gonna touch the "functional alcoholic" part.

    " "Sierra Nevada was the perfect fit" " : Congratulations on openly admitting that you opened a brewery with the soul goal of being bought up. Others have done the same, without the admission.

    SN must have obtained some new employees with majors in Corporate Gobbledygook to write this. Probably couldn't pass Law School Gobbledygook 101, so went into marketing.

    I've long disagreed with SN on some of use of terminology (Celebration = fresh hop, mostly), but, have always respected the brewery and their beers.

    This is the first time I've actually lost respect for them.

    I'm no expert, but, I certainly know bullshit when I see it.
  28. breadwinner

    breadwinner Meyvn (1,205) Mar 6, 2014 California

    Crushable is a fucking moronic word, its meaning all about being able to consume a liquid quickly, a “selling point” of useless value. It’s also just stupid bro-speak. Marketing your beer as easy to drink quickly and a lot of is dumb. (But ask me how I really feel:wink:

    The issue with Lampshade isn’t the name, it’s the copy that goes with it, which gleefully endorses nights you only partially remember. I’d make a Kavanaugh reference here, but I’m sure that’d be a total grenade, so suffice it to say I personally think craft beer encouraging shitty decision making with a wink and a nod is pretty fucking weak.
  29. stevepat

    stevepat Devotee (452) Mar 12, 2013 California

    fair enough, I haven't seen the lampshade beer so I'm not hip to that. I always hear crushable as some definite bro-speak, but really just the modern equivalent of easy drinking. I think it's used in craft beer because many people associate craft beer with big giant dark sippers and super bitter IPAs. I also always assume that a 'crushable' beer is low alcohol
  30. breadwinner

    breadwinner Meyvn (1,205) Mar 6, 2014 California

    Oh, I agree it probably implies that too - drinksbility/difference from bigger, burlier beers - I just think there’s better language with less issues that could be used.
    stevepat likes this.
  31. SirLeaflock

    SirLeaflock Initiate (16) Jul 27, 2018 Wisconsin

    The story on the box is my issue with Lampshade Party Ale. It celebrates being blackout drunk. Crushable implies easy to drink a large quantity in a short period of time, which I feel is an irresponsible way to consume alcohol. It's fine if companies aren't tip toeing around the dangerous use of the products, it's just surprising after years of hearing and or reading, "(company x) promotes responsible drinking."
    breadwinner likes this.
  32. stevepat

    stevepat Devotee (452) Mar 12, 2013 California

    Yes quite the fine line for intoxicant merchants to walk. Drinking to excess is unfortunately a pretty big cultural presence in our country and I would definitely expect a little better from bells than blackout jokes.
    I think this "health" beer or "functional alcohol" thing is just about as bad. If you want a sprouted grain based health drink you need to get yourself a lacto fermented small beer
    breadwinner likes this.
  33. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,013) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey


    I don’t normally do stuff like this but I’m genuinely interested in your reply and I think other people here would be interested as well....

    As a marathon runner yourself, how do you feel about this product? Does this appeal to you at all or would you just rather drink whenever you wanted to once the race is over?
    Squire and drtth like this.
  34. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,087) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Premium Trader

    My personal opinion is that these beers that aim to be healthy are trying too hard. When I do make an alcohol cut for training, I cut all alcohol since alcohol has its own impacts on health aside from (de)hydration - regardless of the presence of gluten, sodium, calories, etc.. Meaning a properly formulated alcohol beverages offers negligible benefits to a training endurance athlete (who is non-gluten free)* in my mind, and if the athlete is seeking a beer beverage after a large race - just drink the real thing. The big effort is done, and very, very few will bounce back from a long race within the time frame that a real beer will carry an effect. Meaning if a runner isn't participating in either back-to-back days of racing or maybe back-to-back weekends of racing - I would say just drink the beer, take your time off, and rebuild. That's the smart training approach with or without alcohol post-race.

    This does not appeal to me. When I finish a long training run, I want what sounds good - keep me happy, keep me training. When I finish a big race, I will eat and drink as I please, especially since the conclusion of most races means time off to reflect and recover. With that said, it doesn't matter whether I drink a 12% stout the night after a big race or a SeaQuench or 'properly formulated' beer - I'm still going to be beat up from the race. I just may be a little more or less hungover for my flight home. Hangovers aside, I'll still feel rough on my first run back a week later regardless, but that's more of a function of the hard 26.2 miles before than which beverage I selected post-finish.

    After a little research, it looks like these beers are <5 parts per million gluten. New Belgium's Glutiny is sitting at <10 parts per million gluten. This statement, combined with the specific caloric call-outs, gives me the impression these beers are trying to tie craft Michelob Ultra together with reduced gluten. Meaning these beers could do well for a small segment of gluten and caloric-ally concerned endurance athletes and consumers, but not in any of my circles.

    *this excludes athletes on gluten-reduced or gluten-free diets. Gluten is a large part of beer, and most anything carbohydrate heavy, and can wreak havoc on the body when not consumed for a long duration and/or based on genetic conditions. That said, the gluten free athletes I know still drink regular beer after their season or race has ended and deal with the day of consequences afterwards. They make this decision even when gluten reduced and free beers are available on tap. Perhaps that's a testament to the quality (and the lack of quality products) for gluten reduced beer. This beer, in my mind, goes after that gluten-free segment, which is largely un-populated when considering the vast swath of craft beer today. It also makes some sodium claims that aren't made very often in craft beer (does SeaQuench offer an exact sodium content measurement?)

    Fun fact: I burned just over 2,600 calories at the NYC marathon in 2018. That means I could finish 27 Sufferfest Kolsch's (at 95 calories each) and still be in caloric debt for the day. That's why I opted for the 8% NE IPA and 12% imperial stout the night after.

    Lengthy response, but I hope it answers your questions @tzieser .
  35. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,013) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    Great answer @Harrison8 ! very interesting. ‘wish I could like it once’ and all that good stuff. Appreciate your perspective :beers:
    bluejacket74, Harrison8 and drtth like this.
  36. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,013) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    Like it more** than once.....

    Sorry. Posting on my phone sucks.

    Anyway, I guess my feelings for this beer are similar to the way I feel about most products that are formulated to be healthy versions of the real thing (turkey bacon, low fat ice cream, baked chips, etc). If you’re looking to be healthy (or be an active/training runner in a race in this case) then why bother with it at all. If you do decide to have a beer then just have a real one since you’re already making the decision of enjoying something unhealthy. If I’m really craving a donut I’m not going to have a low cal donut. I’m already making the conscious decision of enjoying something inherently bad for you; might as well make it count.
    bluejacket74 likes this.
  37. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,133) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Oh... the memories still linger. I have a new smoker waiting to be set up on my deck -- a fresh Summerfest (maybe even a Sufferfest) ought to go nicely with that first pork shoulder. :slight_smile:
    Ranbot likes this.
  38. stevepat

    stevepat Devotee (452) Mar 12, 2013 California

    Just to check again, was there any inkling of this coming down the line? It just seems very sudden and unexpected from SN. They never struck me as one to get into the acquisition game
  39. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,640) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Premium Trader

    I assume they look at it as a developing market, and it is probably cheaper to buy someone who has created the image and done the market research vs doing it themselves.
    drtth likes this.
  40. oldbean

    oldbean Aspirant (279) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    Honestly, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing middle aged white collar amateur athletes that they have "performance needs". Your performance literally doesn't matter, dorks, just drink some normal ass beer and gain three pounds and enjoy your life.
    Ranbot, Spikester, OldLady and 2 others like this.