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A champion's thirst? Drink your Wheaties

For champions, it seems, nothing goes better with breakfast than a nice refreshing beer.

General Mills (GIS) is partnering with Minneapolis microbrewery Fulton to launch HefeWheaties, a limited edition, German-style wheat beer that seeks to capitalize on the food giant's iconic brand. Wheaties are not in the new brew, but its label mimics Wheaties' usual orange box, although without the cereal's signature photo of a marquee athlete.

The collaboration between General Mills and Fulton grew out of the fact that some of the microbrewers' founders also worked at the company, also headquartered in the Twin Cities. "This was a true partnership between Wheaties and Fulton," David Oehler marketing manager for Wheaties wrote in a blog post.

Fulton will get the wheat for HefeWheaties from the same in-state grain supplier that it uses to produce its 20 different beers. which include pours such as Lonely Blond and Insurrection. Fulton is doing a limited run of HefeWheaties that will only be available in a 16 oz. tall boy can later this month.

Sam Adams mastermind Jim Koch: Craft brewers "driving the beer industry"

Market data show that craft beers' most ardent consumers are 25-to-34-year-olds. Linking a small-batch beer to a popular brand that pre-dates World War 2 could raise Wheaties' visibility among younger consumers.

Fulton, which has a microbrew tap room and a separate production facility, was founded in 2009, and it has seen an exponential increase in business, according to company executives. "We should hit 25,000 barrels this year, and we were just in the middle teens last year," Tucker Gerrick, Fulton's director of marketing told CBS MoneyWatch.

According to Fulton's website, the founders started off as a home brewing operation in a one car garage in a South Minneapolis alley. Today they employ 40 people.

Market analysts say the craft beer and microbrewery movement is a shot in the arm to the beer industry, which has lost marketshare as the nation drinking tastes shift away from beer toward wine and other alcoholic beverages.

"We're in an unprecedented growth phase for small and independent breweries," said Bart Watson, chief economist with the Brewers Association. "In 2014, craft breweries were up to 11 percent of marketshare by volume, and 19.3 percent share by final retail consumer dollar sales -- that's $19.6 billion in consumer spending in a total market of $101.5 billion."

Americans are drinking beer the wrong way

According to a beverage industry survey conducted by Mintel, a marketing research firm, sales of craft beers doubled between 2007 and 2012 and are slated to triple by 2017.

"While the craft and craft-style beer category remains a small segment of the $78 billion dollar beer industry, the category has been able to stabilize the overall beer industry, which has experienced volume declines in the domestic and imported beer categories since 2008," said Jennifer Zegler, a beverage industry analyst at Mintel, in a report.

A recent Gallup Poll showed that beer was the alcoholic beverage of choice for 42 percent of those surveyed, down from 47 percent in 1992. Wine was the preference for 34 percent of drinkers who were asked, up from 27 percent in 1992. Those preferring liquor remained relatively constant at 21 percent. Close to two-thirds of those surveyed by Gallup said they consumed alcohol, on par with previous polls.