Fifty2, The MPB Project: Hy-Vee – Baraboo

Hyvee Baraboo front“Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project,” will present a carefully curated look at the best Private Brands in the U.S. across all retail channels. The weekly series presents a look at one great Private Brand with insight, analysis and original Fifty2 The MPB Project Logophotography. I am looking for retailer-owned private labels that are BRANDS. Brands that bring their positioning and business purpose to life through: great design, purpose, expertise, confidence, emotion, lifestyle and innovation.

To submit a brand for consideration please email

In 2012 West Des Moines, Iowa based grocer Hy-Vee introduced the craft beer Private Brand Baraboo. To create the quality beer, named for the Baraboo River, the retailer tapped Stevens Point Brewing in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

In the initial development phase, the brand’s initial three beers were created: the lager, wheat beer and an India pale ale. Each brew came from humble beginnings. To create just the right flavors, each label started with small, 10-gallon batches that were brewed, tested, tasted, revised, then the process repeated until the team was satisfied. Once the small-batch recipe was proven, brew master Gabe Hopkins had to run other samples and tests to confirm the recipe would remain consistent when brewed in larger 3,100-gallon batches.

Three distinct beer styles form the foundation of the Baraboo beer lineup. The first two are named after lumberjacks and woodpeckers, part of the Wisconsin forest culture, while the last variety name is inspired by Wisconsin’s state rock, red granite. The Hy-Vee website describes the three with the brand voice:

Hyvee Baraboo 1Lumberjack IPA Brewed with a pale malt and light hops, this one is a distinctive taste among the three beers. Though called India pale ale, this ale originated in England and was shipped overseas to British soldiers and civil servants in India during the 1800s.

Woodpecker Wheat Ale The distinctive taste of wheat is present in this light brew. The lineage of this recipe goes back to the world’s oldest brewery, which operated 1,000 years ago in Germany.

Red Granite Lager This amber lager is in the same beer family as most popular brands. As a craft beer, however, it is made with traditional ingredients. No corners are cut for the sake of mass production, as is often the case with mass-market beers.

In addition to the three core beers, the brand has also introduced three seasonal beers, one each for the fall, winter and spring/summer.

Baraboo is a confident and bold brand with a tone of voice and graphic design that is unapologetic – this is not your grandpa’s generic swill, but instead a fully formed brand and a great product.

Brand: Baraboo


West Des Moines, Iowa 

2011 USA Retail Sales ($000):
2011 Stores:

To submit a brand for consideration please email

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.