Comedians Take Better Beer from Zero to $50m in 15 Months


By Simon Evans, Senior Reporter, Australian Financial Review Jan 30th 2023

A zero-carb beer brand part-owned by comedian influencers The Inspired Unemployed and ASX-listed Mighty Craft, has generated $50 million in retail sales in the past year, with volumes doubling in the December quarter compared with the September quarter.

The beer only hit the market in October 2021 and has been one of the fastest-growing brands in the brewing industry for decades. It was developed by founder Nick Cogger, who runs Torquay Beverages Co, and comedians Matt Ford and Jack Steele, who go by the social media handle of The Inspired Unemployed and have millions of followers.

Social media comedians The Inspired Unemployed, Matt Ford and Jack Steele have helped build a zero-carb beer into a winner. They hold a combined 42 per cent stake.  

The Inspired Unemployed comedians each hold a 21 per cent stake in Better Beer and Mr Cogger owns just under 20 per cent. Mighty Craft, which owns stakes in a string of craft beer and gin brands, holds 37 per cent of Better Beer.

Mighty Craft outlined in a December quarter update on Monday that Better Beer, which has been prominent in Dan Murphy’s stores owned by Endeavour Group, had exceeded expectations by selling 3.2 million litres across October, November and December. This compared with 1.4 million litres in the three months ended September 30.

Mighty Craft chief executive Mark Haysman said Better Beer was a “unique asset of significant value” and there was an aggressive pursuit of further expansion opportunities. It was capable of competing with the very largest beer brands in Australia, he said.

“It’s disrupted the beer category like nothing else we’ve seen in the past decade,” Mr Haysman said.

Better Beer is eyeing a potential expansion into the United Kingdom, after robust sales in the New Zealand market, which were also ahead of expectations, laying the foundation for the beer to be brewed in NZ from late in the June quarter.

But Mr Haysman said the biggest opportunity was still in Australia: “The real focus is driving really hard in Australia.” Two new products are coming in March and April, but he said they remained confidential for now.

The Better Beer brand is on course to exceed a 10 million litre volume target for 2022-23. December sales had been particularly strong. Better Beer sales in the December quarter of 3.2 million litres were 687 per cent higher than the December quarter a year earlier, when the brand was in its infancy.

Kangaroo Island Spirits, which lifted sales by 34 per cent in the December quarter compared with a year earlier, was another solid performer for Mighty Craft, which produced overall revenue of $31.2 million in the December quarter, up 91 per cent on a year earlier.

But while Better Beer was a standout, the craft beer segment overall had a tough quarter. Mighty Craft said off-premise craft beer sales were down about 12 per cent across the industry.

People headed back to pubs and bars whereas the previous December quarter benefited from sales of craft beers for consumption at home when COVID-19 restrictions were still in place, and people were wary of going out once they lifted.

One investment which has not gone so well for Mighty Craft is its minority stake in Brisbane-based Ballistic Brewing, which went into administration last week. Mighty Craft said the carrying value of the investment in Ballistic Brewing was $2.4 million.

Mighty Craft shares had gained 5 per cent by 1.30pm AEST on Monday to 18.5¢. They were trading at 31.5¢ in late April.

Original article featured on the Australian Financial Review Website

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