Companies That May Benefit from Starbucks’ Beer and Wine Menu

The recent experiment by Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) to sell beer, wine, and other premium food products at selected locations have some speculating about who may benefit if the new menu options expand nationwide.  At the moment, the Seattle-based coffee chain currently serves alcohol in select locations near its base in Seattle and Portland, and announced earlier this week that it will broaden the experiment to stores in Atlanta and Southern California.

Starbucks will be offering high end, premium beverages in keeping with its premium coffee, but presently is looking to tailor its beer and wine lists towards local tastes (just as most restaurants do).  Nevertheless, many “local breweries” and specialty beverages are parts of larger conglomerates, who may stand to benefit if the experiment proves successful.  Pacific Northwest locations, for instance, have been serving Hefeweizen beer, which is produced by local Widmer Brothers Brewing, which is owned by Craft Brew Alliance (NASDAQ:HOOK), and the Belgian brew Stella Artois it sells is affiliated with Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD).

If Hefeweizen is taken nationwide, Craft Brew Alliance would especially benefit, as Starbucks will almost certainly be focusing on premium microbrews.  Another company that may benefit would be Boston Beer Company (NYSE:SAM), who is best known for Samuel Adams beers, whose crafted and seasonal brews might be well-suited to Starbucks’ customers.

Of course, all of this, for right now, is speculative and will remain that way until Starbucks shows a willingness to expand its beer and wine menu past a few experimental markets.