A beer for the bike boom

Rally fills a white space that caters to cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts looking for electrolyte fuel.

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Rally Golden Ale is an electrolyte beer birthed on the bike trail and aimed at cycling and other outdoor enthusiasts as a post-workout replenishment. It is launching at the LCBO this week, differentiating itself as a first-to-market electrolyte beer, sourced from salts and blackcurrants, an attempt to stand out in a crowded suds category that is seeing a slowdown in consumption.

“We are forging our own category in a sense, which is starting to bubble south of the border, with better-for-you alcohol,” according to Alan Wood, founder of the Rally Beer Company, who believes his brand has carved a unique enough space for itself to succeed.

“I am a big cyclist and we are really going to service our niche, rather than do a mainstream beer off the bat,” Wood says, adding that he made a commitment to launching the brand while pedalling the Butter Tart 700 ride, a 715-kilometre self-supported bike ride through Ontario’s Bruce, Grey, and Dufferin Counties. “That’s when the vision came and I told myself I would pursue this.”

Wood says he is quite active in the cycling community, and sees growth in cycling events, which it eventually wants to sponsor as the brand grows. He says there is opportunity to reach out to female demos as well, citing “The Wild Bettys,” a popular women’s mountain biking club, and others that meet in the GTA to “Pursue Your Passion” (Rally Beer’s tagline).

RallyCanFront2The dark green colour scheme in the Rally design, Wood says, calls out mountain biking trails and the great outdoors and stands apart from the mostly white competitors in the better-for-you space, as well as other canned brews. Another “green” tie-in, is the prominent “1% for the planet” call out on the container, a reference to a global movement inspiring businesses and individuals to support environmental solutions through memberships and everyday actions, and whose members contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental causes.

“I don’t see a lot of people doing this in the beer business,” Wood says of the CSR component.

Rally is currently developing shopper creative, Wood says, and he concedes it’s been challenging to understand LCBO programs that are available. He says the liquor outlet put a halt to a number of its shopper programs because of COVID, particularly ones for beer brands, like in-store casing for new products. As a result, he says, Rally is getting creative by going outdoors and grassroots by directly reaching out to the cycling community.

“There is a gap in the beer marketplace that appeals to the active adventure lifestyle and that encourages wellness and the responsible consumption of a celebration craft beer,” Wood says. “Hopefully electrolyte beer resonates with [consumers and] aligns with their values, and is seen as a unique product.”

On its site, Rally emphasis functional benefits derived from natural salts sourced from Newfoundland and Labrador, and blackcurrants, which it says are high in mineral content and the source of many natural electrolytes.

Wood says that going forward the brand is adding a non-alcoholic beer to its lineup, as well as low alcohol per volume SKUs to create a portfolio of products for those who are outdoor and fitness inclined, which is reflected in the brand messaging: “crafted for all the mile-crushers, risk-takers, goal-smashers, and sweat-breakers,” a segment that has potential to grow even bigger as the pandemic sparks a new bike boom.

According to Wood, Rally is doing small digital campaigns and PR outreach, focusing on supporting communities that are active in mountain biking and cycling communities like the Collingwood Offroad Cycling Club.

“We are not throwing advertising dollars at Instagram,” he says, adding that the Rally brand will instead profile athletes, run virtual rides, and work on an ambassador program. It will also look to sponsor activities in line with Wood’s favourites pastimes, kayaking, kite surfing, “anything active,” which is why cycling and bike-related imagery is not a prominent design feature.

Wood says all design and creative was done in-house, and that his industry experience is informed by apprenticing for craft brewers, experimenting with brewing beer in his parents’ kitchen, and working for a software company that dealt with CPG supply chains.