New Kwik Trip Beer Taps Into Specialty Market

Wisconsin Convenience Store Chain Announces Collaboration With Craft Brewery, Exclusive Beer

Karben4 beer cans
Courtesy of Karben4 Brewing

A craft brewery in Madison is partnering with Wisconsin convenience store chain Kwik Trip to create a line of exclusive beers.

Karben4 Brewing announced the release of Glazer Bean, a chocolate coffee milk stout meant to capture the flavors of Kwik Trip’s Glazer donuts and Karuba coffee.

Brewmaster Ryan Koga said Kwik Trip approached Karben4 about creating a craft beer this summer.

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“They were adamant about not making a white label beer for them, like just ‘Kwik Trip beer.’ They said ‘Hey we really like your brand. You do really well in our stores.’ They’re a great customer for us too,” Koga said.

Koga said he knows the collaboration between a craft brewery and a convenience store chain may not seem like a natural fit. But he said Karben4 felt a shared connection with Kwik Trip because they’re both family-owned Wisconsin businesses.

“When you look at all of their stores and you just look at all the numbers, they sell quite a bit of craft beer in the state. And they’ve always been good about giving us a chance to be on their shelf and to perform,” Koga said. “You kind of have to do a little bit of digging before you see how natural the fit becomes.”

Some business experts say the collaboration could be a smart business move for both companies.

Bill Lee, director of the Center for Supply Chain Management at Marquette University, said having an exclusive distribution through Kwik Trip could help drive interest in the new product.

Lee points to the craze around New Glarus Brewing Company’s Spotted Cow, which is only sold in Wisconsin, as an example.

“Sometimes by having exclusive distribution, you create that air of scarcity and specialization: ‘This beer must be really cool if you can only get it in this place.’ And Kwik Trip might be playing off of that scarcity as well,” Lee said.

He said the new product will likely help Kwik Trip continue to build their brand as a company.

“It establishes them as not just a gas station, not just a convenience store. It gives them something extra,” Lee said.

Representatives from Kwik Trip could not be reached for comment.

Koga said the companies are hoping the collaboration will lead to a “Kwik series” at Karben4. But whether the partnership continues will depend on the popularity of Glazer Bean.

“If it ends up being a flop, then we had fun while we were doing it but we’ll understand that we should just leave it alone. But if we have a great response to it, then we’ll double down and put even more effort into the next one,” Koga said.

He said Karben4 is still working to package all of the new beer, which was released in some Kwik Trip stores this week. Koga said it will take at least two weeks to get the product out to all Kwik Trip stores in the state.