From its brewpub in Coronado, Calif., and three production facilities in Coronado, San Diego and Imperial Beach, Calif., Coronado Brewing Co. (CBC) belies its laid-back island attitude by shattering weekly brewing records. As the craft brewery enters its 20th year, the company will further its record-breaking start to 2016 as it unveils a new brand evolution that features refreshed branding and packaging.
Co-founded in 1996 by brothers Ron and Rick Chapman, who serve as chief executive officer and president, respectively, CBC — the fifth largest craft brewery in San Diego — is at the forefront of a competitive craft beer movement, Rick Chapman says.
“We went from brewing a few beers on tap to offering 21 different selections on tap at a given time. In regards to SKUs produced annually, we have several different programs, including our core, year-round brands that are in 12- and 22-ounce bottles, draft and some will soon be available in cans for the first time,” Rick Chapman says. “We also have 34 different UPCs for a given year and offer more than nine beers in a draft series, a barrel-aged program that produces more than four SKUs and a CBC-owned draft and innovation program that offers experimental beers as well as smaller-batch brews for use in our tasting rooms and restaurants.”
The company’s main location in San Diego is a 30,000-square-foot brewing facility that produces 65,000 barrels of beer annually, but continues to shatter records. “In 2014, we produced nearly 30,000 barrels, and we started 2016 off with a bang by breaking our weekly brewing record twice in the first two weeks of the year,” Rick Chapman notes. “In the third week of January, we were over 1,000 barrels and on a 24-hour brew schedule.”
Having previously owned and operated a small coffee shop, Rick Chapman says that learning to brew was a hurdle the brothers quickly had to overcome. “Shawn DeWitt, our director of brewery operations, studied at La Jolla Brewing Co. and hasn’t looked back since,” he says.
Today, CBC employs 130 people and operates three self-titled brewpubs: the original brewpub on Orange Avenue in Coronado, the main brewery production facility on Knoxville Street in San Diego that expanded in size and scope with the 2012 launch of a Tasting Room and Production Brewery, and the Imperial Beach Tasting Room and kitchen that opened in November 2014. These facilities produce consumer-pleasing IPAs and much more.
“IPAs continue to remain top sellers, and we try to brew approachable beers that anyone can drink,” Rick Chapman says. “Our Anniversary beer has always been a favorite and is a tropical Imperial IPA. Outside of that, we see our Orange Avenue Wit beer as another popular one, especially for people looking to drink more than one beer.”
CBC’s core lineup includes Islander IPA, Mermaid’s Red, Coronado Golden, Orange Avenue Wit, Blue Bridge Coffee Stout and Idiot IPA. The beer that started it all, Island IPA — a World Beer Cup Gold Medal Winner in 2014 — is balanced with low international bitterness units (IBUs) and hints of grapefruit, apricots and tangerines followed up with the pine that IPAs are known for, Head Brewmaster Ryan Brooks explains.
After a soft launch in California, Stingray IPA — the first craft beer added to CBC’s core lineup in four years — launched globally Jan. 4. “We’re really excited about this new beer,” Brooks notes. “It is tropical and easy-to-drink at its 7.9 percent alcohol by volume.”
To keep up with demand, CBC has distributor partnerships with various wholesalers that serve both the MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch portfolios, which distribute its brands in 19 states, including Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, New York and Wisconsin. Its beers also are available in 14 countries, including Australia, Chile, Germany, South Korea and Sweden.
Featuring a mermaid with long, flowing hair holding steins of beer, Coronado craft beers are packaged in 12- and 22-ounce bottles with different label colors, including green, blue, red and orange, to differentiate the varietals.
In partnership with San Diego-based MiresBall, CBC is starting out the new year with a fresh look that embraces the craft brewery’s passion for family, friends and creating exceptional and approachable beer, the company says. Featuring a new tag line, “Stay Coastal” was created and the label’s iconic mermaid logo remains the core of the brand refresh. In addition to the tag line, other new elements include fonts, packaging hierarchy and color scheme, it adds.
“The goal was to be more aligned across the brand’s portfolio as we move globally,” CBC’s Marketing Manager Heather Dueitt says. “The packaging design for the launch of our new cans offered a greater opportunity to dive deeper into our coastal story. We are a SoCal-style, family-owned and –operated brewery.”
Rolling out in March, Orange Avenue Wit, Islander IPA and Easy Up Pale Ale, a new varietal, will be available in cans for the first time. Additionally, seasonal bottles will debut in May, with the goal of phasing in the new packaging and completing the brand transition by the beginning of 2017, Dueitt says.
Yet, perfecting the craft of craft beer will remain the company’s main mission, Rick Chapman notes. “We will keep a thumb on the pulse of what people are drinking and what we are passionate about,” he says. “We love to brew good beer, and believe 2016 will be an exciting year for our team and craft beer drinkers everywhere.”