Oliver's Markets add its own Sonoma County craft beers to already vast selection of brews for sale

After a successful entry into wine almost four years ago, Oliver’s Market is back with its own private label for another Sonoma County staple: beer.

The Santa Rosa grocery chain late last month released four craft beers under its Oliver’s Own label at its four Sonoma County stores. One of the beers also is on tap at the pub inside its Windsor market.

The employee-owned grocer has carried a large selection of beers from local and regional breweries, from established brands Bear Republic Brewing Co. of Cloverdale and Russian River Brewing Co. of Windsor to up-and-comers such as HenHouse Brewing Co. of Santa Rosa.

Nevertheless, Oliver’s decided it could carve its own niche in the craft brew marketplace by offering a quality product at a lower price than other local beers. For example, its porter and pilsner styles sell at $8.99 for a 16-ounce four-pack, while it’s rotating-hop pale ale and hazy India pale ale (IPA) cost $9.99 for the same package. Other breweries offer such four-packs for up to $20 at local retail outlets.

Oliver’s wanted a range of beer styles that could appeal to a broad range of customers as opposed to those who focus on certain varieties, such as so-called “hopheads” who love only IPAs, said Richard Williams, the wine, spirits and beer buyer for the grocer.

“We wanted something that could appeal to everybody,” Williams said.

While the move was risky, he said Oliver’s managers think the private beer label could generate a positive reception similar to its private wine label.

The grocer has sold about $1 million worth of its own wine since April 2015, when it was released. Like beer, that product also is for the budget-conscious shopper, with bottle prices from $8.99 to $17.99.

“It’s just something value-added that we can give people more choice,” Williams said. The company also sells private-label sauces, spices and vitamins.

Similar to its wine, Oliver’s has its beer made by a local Sonoma County brewery Williams would not reveal because of contractual obligations that prevent disclosure from undercutting the brewery’s own product.

Williams said customer reaction has been positive so far, with Oliver’s selling about 100 four-packs a day. The trendy hazy IPA being the biggest seller, he added.

“Through the last 12 days, the sales have been really brisk,” Williams said.

Oliver’s already has plans to eventually unveil more styles of craft beers, such as a light lager for summer and imperial stout for the winter, he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.

Show Comment