News & Media

Dead Crow to ‘speerhead’ SHS Drinks spirit flavoured beer range

7th May 2014

SHS Drinks has announced plans to re-brand and develop its spirit-flavoured beer (speers) range under the Dead Crow brand name as it embarks on the second phase of development for the two ‘speers’ launched in January last year.

Both the bourbon and rum-flavoured variants are being retained as are the recipes, the 5.5% ABV and recommended retail price point, but the two lines which have generated more than £1.2 million-worth of sales since launch, will be united under the Dead Crow brand name with new-look packaging being introduced to reflect the brand’s premium quality credentials.


From this month (April), the two Dead Crow ‘speers’ will be packaged in stylish and distinctive clear 330ml bottles embossed with a map of the world, signaling SHS Drinks’ intention to develop a range of spirit-flavoured beers from around the globe. A re-designed Dead Crow logo is featured on bottle neck labels, and the ‘bourbon’ and ‘rum‘ flavour descriptors are prominently displayed on labels circling the contoured waist of the bottles. Colour-coding of both neck and waist labels – red for bourbon and blue for rum – provides further differentiation ensuring the two lines can be easily distinguished in the chiller.

The roll-out of the re-branding and new pack design is being supported with a new marketing campaign which reinforces the brand’s individual and idiosyncratic style. Highlights will include sampling, trial-driving and digital/social media activity plus outdoor poster advertising and consumer PR initiatives. SHS Drinks is also exploring sponsorship and partnership opportunities, and plans are in the pipeline for an on-pack promotion later in the year.

Explaining the decision to forgo the Cuvana brand name and develop a portfolio of speers under the Dead Crow brand, Mark Hopper, Head of Innovation and Development at SHS Drinks, says: “Speers is a new sector of the beer category which really took off big time last year. Until we launched Dead Crow and Cuvana in January 2013, there were only two tequila-flavoured beers on the UK market. With the arrival of bourbon-flavoured Dead Crow and rum-flavoured Cuvana we brought new flavours and a new dimension to this emerging category and a series of ‘me toos’ followed in our wake.

“A year down track, spirit-flavoured beers have emerged as a clearly defined ‘speers’ sub-category worth £123 million in annual sales across the on-trade and take home markets.In the on-trade sector sales have increased by 75%in the past 12 monthsto reach £95 million, and we expect to see growth in the fledgling category accelerate in the year ahead as more contenders enter the category and the flavour spectrum widens. Our own forecasts support predictions that sales will reach around £400 million within the next two years.

“SHS Drinks intends to remain at the forefront of innovation in this dynamic new sub-category and we will be looking to expand the portfolio in due course, drawing inspiration, as we have done with bourbon and rum, from flavours from around the world. The two initial flavours have proved to be popular – hence our retaining both variants – but consumer feedback over the past 15 months has shown Dead Crow to be a striking, distinctive, memorable and highly compelling brand proposition.

“We have, therefore, taken the decision at this stage to move forward with Dead Crow as the brand name which will unite and align the projected family of spirit-flavoured variants in our speers portfolio, rather than launch a series of individual brands. It has also given us the opportunity to review the pack design and introduce the embossed bottle and refine the graphics to deliver a more premium image, whilst providing a strong platform for bringing on board new speers further down track.”