Rise Brewing Company is touting its coveted crown as the winner of New Beverage Showdown 13 after claiming the top spot in the early-stage beverage brand competition.
Rise co-founders Grant Gyesky and Jarrett McGovern competed against entrepreneurs from five other brands participating in the final round of the Showdown, which is intertwined with BevNET Live Summer 2017 and held at Metropolitan West in New York City.
“We’re so honored,” McGovern told BevNET. “We have put in a lot of hard work to get to this point and just seeing ourselves with all those other brands, we are really proud to be associated with [them] and really excited that we took home the award today among the great competition.”
Rise Brewing launched in 2015 with its nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee. The company, which sells the coffee in cans and kegs at retail and foodservice outlets, has developed a loyal customer base in offices, hotels and restaurants along with stores in California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. Rise also operates a pop-up shop on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Rise faced significant competition from its fellow finalists, Ounce Water, Remedy Organics, Mooala, Ugly Drinks and Smart Pressed Juice, all of which secured their spots in the round after emerging from Tuesday’s semifinals. Each brand had five minutes to convince a panel of judges comprised of Kerrie Lopez, Sr. Category Manager of Fresh at Jet.com, John Craven, CEO at BevNET, Kellam Mattie, VP of Marketing and Innovation and CMO of Venturing & Emerging Brands, Trevor Nelson, co-founder and Managing Partner at Alliance Consumer Growth, and Tim Sperry, President and owner of the Tim Sperry Group, that their beverage would be the next product consumers will want to be sipping on.
The judges praised Rise for its high-quality formulation, sales strategy and current distribution footprint, which includes over 900 locations. During the presentation, Gyesky said the company is currently capable of filling 1,500 kegs per day and three million can cases per year. The judges did caution the company about its plans to expand sales to Europe.
“I think Rise has what it takes,” Sperry said on stage. “[But] stay here. Don’t go to Europe. You’re not ready for it. The grass is really green right here, so stay focused on what you’re doing right here.”
Nelson told BevNET it was the Rise’s multi-faceted approach to sales that made the business intriguing and disruptive.
“The keg business has a lot of unique places it can live and thrive, and help build the brand alongside the can business, which I think is a very interesting approach,” Nelson said. “We saw years ago Stumptown build a brand with a multi-pronged approach in coffee where they were the branded beans inside food service, for example, while at the same time wholesaling and retailing the beans. Then they ultimately came out with an RTD. I think this is another iteration of that kind of multipronged playbook in cold coffee.”
Along with the title of New Beverage Showdown champion, Rise Brewing took home $10,000, which McGovern and Gyesky plan to put toward brewing and production costs.
Judges also had praise for the other finalists’ innovative takes on fast-growing categories, including Smart Pressed’s dry pressed juice powder, and, for some, market-ready branding.
“We had a great group overall,” Nelson said. “What makes the judging difficult is that brands are at different places of their life cycles. One brand may have been in the market for two, three or four years and gained traction, another brand in a different category may be just entering the market. So as a judge it’s very difficult to compare things that are really not like for like.”
Rise Brewing is the thirteenth company to win the New Beverage Showdown, joining brands including Health-Ade, MALK, Tio Gazpacho, Coco Cafe and Grady’s Cold-Brew in BevNET Live’s exclusive winners’ circle.
Both Gyesky and McGovern told BevNET they planned to celebrate their win with their teammates — and some drinks — back at their Manhattan brewery.
“To be in the middle of a community like this that’s focused on beverage and that’s successful in covering the sort of spectrum on it, for us to come out as the winner in the New Beverage Showdown is really validating and really exciting,” Gyesky said.
Stayed tuned to BevNET.com for more coverage from BevNET Live Summer 2017.