A member of the Fermentum family of brands has entered the booming alcoholic ginger beer category and they say it strengthens their portfolio as alternative options to beer grow in popularity.

The 4% ABV Little Dragon spirit-based ginger beer was released this week and falls under the Sunrise Drinks Co banner – a sister company to the likes of Stone & Wood and Fixation that all sit under parent company Fermentum’s umbrella. Sunly Seltzer, a brewed hard seltzer that was released in June last year, is also part of the Sunrise range.

Sunrise’s brand manager Pat Coulson told Beer & Brewer Fermentum had been discussing the idea of releasing a ginger beer for the past two years but with sales in the drinks category seeing near “triple digit growth” in that period now was the time to release their offering. He said Little Dragon aims to reap both on and off premise sales.

“We’ve seen the growth in the ginger beer market but also the alternative-to-beer market in general and we think it’s the right time to get in,” Pat said. “The main thing is it strengthens our portfolio and assists our sales team’s confidence in being able to fight for tap space… It’s another offering across Fermentum’s portfolio that doesn’t cannibalise too much from our other drinks.”

Pat said Little Dragon, that features natural ginger, underwent a six to eight month development period at their Murwillumbah brewery which included trials to brew it much like a beer but they settled on the RTD style due to market preference. Where they see Little Dragon’s point of difference is in its balance and its branding.

“Some of the hurdles with a ginger beer, and why people don’t sit on them for too long, is that they’re either too artificial or too sweet or too spicy and not balanced enough. For us we think we’ve come up with the perfect balance in sweet and spice and that is a good point of difference for us. But in the branding we’ve played on an Australiana theme in the aim that the design replicates that thirst-quenching feeling. We feel like that larrikin, fun element is missing in the market.”

Little Dragon follows in the footsteps of multiple breweries that have diversified their beer offering with an alcoholic ginger beer as sales have spiked. Pat put their rise in popularity down to people diversifying their drink choice repertoires.

“We see Little Dragon as a potential change-up drink when you might be looking to move on from what you’ve been drinking on a particular day or night but don’t want to sacrifice on flavour and experience,” he said. “People just aren’t staying in their lane as much as they used to when in the past people sometimes considered themselves a beer drinker or a wine drinker or whatever. These days things are a lot more blurred and there are a lot more occasions that call for a different style of drink for many, many reasons.”

One per cent of net Little Dragon revenue will be donated to wildlife and conservation projects. For the first year they’re teaming up with Australian Wildlife Conservancy – to whom they’ve just donated $10,000 – while Pat said they would support other initiatives and meet needs as and when they emerged.

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