Boston Beer has been hit by increasing choice for consumers in the US craft beer market

Boston Beer has been hit by increasing choice for consumers in the US craft beer market

The struggling Boston Beer Co has shown signs of life after a raft of new launches lifted the brewer's first-quarter sales.

The Samuel Adams owner, which has shed beer volumes over the past two years under pressure from rival craft brands, suggested better times lie ahead with a 18% sales jump in the 13 weeks to the end of March. The increase came as depletions rose by 8%, helped partly by new product lines in the Samuel Adams and Angry Orchard cider portfolios.

In January, Boston Beer handed a US-wide launch to Sam '76, a lager and ale blend, ahead of a similar nation-wide release to Samuel Adam's New England IPA a month later. Angry Orchard Rosé was also rolled out in February.

The new launches are helping Boston Beer turnaround continued declines for Samuel Adams and Angry Orchard that have dented performance since the start of 2016. In full-year results for 2017, the company reported a 5% sales drop and 6% fall in volumes.

During the release of those results at the end of February, Boston Beer founder Jim Koch pointed to improved trends for the start of the year. His optimism was given weight earlier this month when Cowen & Co analyst Vivien Azer reported "surprisingly strong" trends for Boston's non-beer portfolio.

Yesterday, Koch tempered expectations that Boston Beer was back on track. "It's too early to fully understand repeat rates on these new products and therefore to draw conclusions on the long-term impact," he said. 

Koch also welcomed new president & CEO Dave Burwick, who started in the role earlier this month. Burwick replaced Martin Roper, who stepped down after 23 years in the job.

To read Boston Beer's official results, click here.

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