- Coming on the heels of last year's successful Fudgie the Beer collaboration, Carvel and Captain Lawrence Brewing are once again teaming up to launch two beers: Cookie O’ Puss Pastry Stout and Cookie Puss Milkshake IPA.
- Inspired by the Carvel character Cookie Puss, which is a space alien with cookies for eyes and an ice cream cone nose created in the 1970s, these beers are brewed with Carvel's chocolate and vanilla ice creams to give each bottle a uniquely creamy mouthfeel, but still retain the beer's classic taste.
- Available in limited quantities, the Cookie O’Puss Pastry Stout will be available on the East Coast wherever Captain Lawrence is sold. The Cookie Puss Milkshake IPA will only be available in New York due to licensing issues caused by the federal government shutdown.
The millennial darlings that are craft breweries have a new reality to face as a mature industry. What was once viewed as a space with unlimited growth potential experienced its first major round of closures last year. In 2017, there were nearly 6,300 craft breweries in the U.S., up from about 2,900 just four years prior, according to the Brewers Association. Then in 2018, 165 craft breweries shuttered, which represented 2.6% of total breweries and an increase in the closure rate of nearly 70%.
With competition heating up, breweries are scrambling to find the next big thing that will make their brand stand out from the masses. One of the latest ways is through milkshake IPAs. Although there is no set definition for what exactly a milkshake IPA contains, in general it is an IPA that introduces lactose into the brewing process. Often there is a secondary addition of fruit or vanilla bean to give a sweet, dessert-like flavor to the brew.
While many beers are brewed in this manner because of a brewer's affection for the taste, there are also plenty of these IPAs that are created as a publicity collaboration between companies vying for attention. Perhaps one of the most notable examples is Ben & Jerry’s collaboration with New Belgium Brewing Company to create Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale in 2015 and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale in 2016. Since then, plenty of taprooms have followed suit, producing the likes of Station 26 Brewing Co.’s Passionfruit Milkshake IPA and Badger State Brewing’s Pineapple Orange Milkshake IPA.
This isn't Captain Lawrence’s first step into the milkshake IPA arena, nor its first joint venture with Carvel. Last year, the New York state brewery teamed up with the ice cream company to create three batches of Fudgie the Beer based on their signature Fudgie the Whale cake.
Although the characters that Carvel’s beer references are from a generation ago and are not likely to resonate with younger consumers, there seems to have been enough excitement around the partnership to sell out. WNBC-TV reported that the first batch of Fudgie the Beer went on sale on a Wednesday and sold out the same day. Captain Lawrence’s site reports that by the third run, pre-orders sold out as well.
This excitement bodes well for the release of the Cookie Puss beers, which offer a similar taste. At the same time, the name may cause some confusion as it is not as attractive or as descriptive as "Fudgie," which clearly denotes a chocolatey flavor. Besides a strange name, the Cookie Puss Milkshake IPA may also have to contend with the reality that its name references an outdated character — one that today could be seen as a terrifying birthday alien clown that might be unlikely to tempt consumers unfamiliar with the product. Still, if enthusiastic milkshake IPA fans aren’t searching images of the creature and are fans of Carvel's ice cream, there is a good chance they might sample the brew.
This brew, much like Fudgie the Beer, remains a novelty item intended to generate buzz around the brands as opposed to a real attempt at sustained growth. However, in general, these stunt beers seem to do a good job of bringing consumers’ attention to a brewery. From Black Bottle Brewery’s Cerealiously series to Planter’s Mr. IPA-Nut, there have been plenty of novel combinations that reinvigorate interest in brands that were at risk of becoming passé.
Considering the state of the dairy industry, this is also good news for them. Perhaps this trend will not only be an opportunity for craft breweries to stand out, but it will also be a boost for the dairy industry as they search for new ways to encourage Americans to consume their products.