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Pilsner Urquell Launches Major Freshness Initiative Campaign

Discussion in 'Beer News' started by Jason, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. [​IMG]

    Technically, a brewed-under-license Euro lager -- but by a Brewers Association-recognized US "Craft Brewer". ;)
  2. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poobah (1,125) Wyoming Sep 14, 2002

    [​IMG]

    Corked and Caged La Folie.
  3. Beers available in green bottles was discussed recently in this thread: http://beeradvocate.com/community/threads/beers-from-the-us-in-green-bottles.26870/#post-336626

    I believe it I fair to say that BAs are generally of the opinion that packaging beer in green bottles is a very bad idea since the beer can become light-struck.

    Unfortunately marketing folks at breweries have differing opinions on this matter. It seems to be a ‘chicken and the egg’ sort of problem. The marketers think that beer consumers desire beers in green bottles since this connotes quality (i.e., quality imported beer). Maybe some (many?) beer consumers really think that way!?!

    Cheers!
  4. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poobah (1,125) Wyoming Sep 14, 2002

    Here's what Yuengling says about its use of green bottles:

    Thanks for your recent inquiry regarding our usage of green glass.
    We make 7 year round beer brands and 1 seasonal Bock Beer. Currently, 2 are offered in green glass.....Lager and Lord Chesterfield Ale. The others are in a standard brown.
    Your questions are great...let me address a few as I go. First, green is definitely not less expensive. It's actually harder to source in the quantities we need.
    Originally, when Dick Yuengling reintroduced Lager in 1987, he placed it in brown glass and had a very different label designed than what we know today. In the early 1990s he decided to redesign the packaging entirely.....he knew he had a great beer that was different than other full calorie beers on the market at the time. But the brown glass and original label just didn't make it look "special". It looked like every other beer on the market. There was no point of difference.
    When the label was redesigned to what we know today, Dick also considered a change to green glass. First, no other domestic brand was in green. Miller High Life was in clear. So was MGD back then. But the "special" beers of that time were mainly imports. Becks, St Pauli, Lowenbrau, etc. All green glass.
    So the shift to green was a marketing shift.....a point of difference for this special beer.
    You are accurate....green is less protective of the product than brown. We have been working closely with our glass supplier who has developed a UV coating to apply to the outside of the bottle. This is in early stages of development. We are also considering a "high wall" six pack carrier to protect the bottles on the shelf. But there are also other packaging considerations to sort through. But the bottom line is that it's always a concern to protect the integrity of our products. Luckily, our Lager turns very quickly on the shelf so we rarely get complaints about this product. We do sometimes get off taste feedback on chesterfield ale, which we make good to our customers on a case by case basis.
    With all that said, cans are actually the best vessel for packaged beer. Very many craft breweries are figuring that out now. Luckily nearly all of our brands are available in cans.
    Thanks again for the email and for your support of our brewery!

    http://beer.kaedrin.com/2011/09/why-do-breweries-use-green-bottles.html
  5. great, more money spent on bullshit, since UV light isn't the only wavelength that causes skunking. near-UV in the blue part of the VISIBLE spectrum is also a culprit.
  6. up to 90% of urquell's problems could be solved just by abandoning the fucking GREEN GLASS!!! ARGH!!!
    chuckstout likes this.
  7. Within that reply from Yuengling is the ‘answer’:

    “With all that said, cans are actually the best vessel for packaged beer. Very many craft breweries are figuring that out now. Luckily nearly all of our brands are available in cans.”

    If only the beer consumers would solely purchase canned product maybe the breweries would get the ‘message’: Don’t package in green bottles!

    I suspect that many (most?) beer consumers are either ignorant (or disinterested?) in the negative aspects of green bottles. Unfortunately they probably also ‘respond’ the marketing aspect: “So the shift to green was a marketing shift.....a point of difference for this special beer.”

    Damn green bottles!
    Bitterbill likes this.
  8. Hoping above all that we get the 4-pack of the .5 l cans. Love those....
  9. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poobah (1,125) Wyoming Sep 14, 2002

    They need to can Lord Chesterfield...
  10. But that ain't the case. When Yuengling went from US stubbies to a sort of heritage-style semi-long-neck green bottle for some of the beers in the late '80's, they used it for the Porter, Ale and the then new Traditional Lager (below, center) and it was the old original design label.

    [​IMG]



    They do. Much less common, however, than the t/a green bottles, unfortunately.

    [​IMG]

    Back in the '70's and early '80's, they'd sometimes put Chesterfield in 12 oz. brown long neck exports as their deposit returnable/refillable bottle, as well as brown steinie quarts. Of course, even their standard green deposit bottles were less prone to becoming lightstruck- thicker, darker glass and only sold by the case. Never bought a deposit case of skunked LCA and it was a standard purchase for me in the '70's and '80's.
  11. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poobah (1,125) Wyoming Sep 14, 2002

    Have you had it from the bottle(I have) and the can? Is the canned beer better?
  12. Yeah, had it in most every package (steel cans, aluminum cans, throw-aways in stubbies/heritage/long necks, brown and green deposits* and draught) back then when it was one of my standard house beers (mid-'70-late 80's). I personally feel it's been dumbed down since then- I've always been disappointed the one or two times I've had it the last decade and half or so.

    As I noted, the cans are rare in NJ and usually sold in a "suitcase" of 24 rather than plastic-ringed sixpacks, so they move even slower. When I find 'em, I check dates but never see anything close to fresh... Have yet to stumble into any of the draught that was re-introduced a few years back. In NJ, all the emphasis is on the "Lager".
    * Never found those brown steinie quarts!​
  13. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poobah (1,125) Wyoming Sep 14, 2002

    I just checked the reviews of it on BA and the cans *seem* to have a much higher rating than the bottles. I didn't review the bottles I had early in the last decade, pre my reviewing history, but I wasn't impressed. If you ever find a fresh suitcase, let me know and I'll take it from there.;)
  14. steveh

    steveh Advocate (705) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    You know, I thought someone would be asinine to bring up Trumer, but I didn't think it would be you! ;)

    And it's funny because Trumer suffers the same fate as light struck Urquell -- so they ought to know better too!
  15. steveh

    steveh Advocate (705) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    Yeah, your moniker fits Bill -- now you're two up on attempting to show someone up, but I think I'm well ahead of you on my point -- the majority of good breweries don't use green bottles -- you know it, I know it.

    And since your 2 examples were of similar style and bottling size, I have to wonder if no one makes brown bottles for the beer they want to bottle that way.
  16. :eek: The Brewers Association lists Grambrinus as the #4 Craft Brewer for 2011 and awarded Trumer the Silver in the German-Style Pilsener (Cat. 15) in the 2005 GABF (only US beers from US brewers can be entered in the GABF, right? I can't find that specific on their website.)

    So, it looks like your argument is with the Brewers Association - get in line right over there.

    Oh, and the early 80's bottlings of Old Foghorn were in very dark green 6.3 oz. bottles.;)
  17. The "green bottle = quality import" convention is pretty well documented, at least as far as beer marketers are concerned. Phillip Van Munching in Beer Blast discusses how a Heineken salesman left Van Munching, set up a new import company (Martlet Importing, Inc.), got the contract to import Molson into the US and convinced them to put it in a Heineken-like green bottle. Sales took off and Molson was soon the #2 imported brand in the US (helped by the fact that Miller started brewing Löwenbräu under contract in the US around the same time).

    A few years later, Labatt (#1 in Canada, but far behind Molson in the US at the time) did some consumer research in 1978 and found that the overwhelming answer to "What does an imported beer look like?" was "It comes in a green bottle". Labatt switched to a tall green bottle (dropping the brown stubby for export to the US) and even though they raised wholesale prices $1-3/cs - at a time when Molson sold in the $7-8/case range - sales went up 30%. [NY Times 10-28-79]

    So, while the beer geeks might know the green bottle is less protective than brown, the majority of imported beer drinkers who've, say, made Heineken the best selling European import for decades don't seem to mind. If retailers cared, they'd offer their customers the choice of "exposed" sixpacks or those from closed cases, since it's not the green bottle that causes lightstruck beer, it's exposes them to light - which the retailer does. A few generations ago, retailers and brewers knew this and beer was not stored behind clear glass doors, or next to or under florescent lights. Heineken's own FAQ says "The best way to store your Heineken beer is in a cool, dry place out of direct light and heat."
    Beerandraiderfan and nicnut45 like this.
  18. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Champion (910) Colorado May 19, 2005

    So, brewers like Heineken know their beers are not stored as they wish--how can they not? ;) . They advise that their beer is to be stored their way b/c they know green bottles suck. But they use green bottles as a marketing tool. The green bottle is the visual aid that screams quality imported beer. But then their advice is for retailers to keep them out of direct light. :eek::confused:
    chuckstout likes this.
  19. steveh

    steveh Advocate (705) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    Right on the head, so the confusion is why even bring that up at all other than to muddy the waters over stupid marketing practices? o_O

    The real argument I started against was:
    Which is plain old crap that leads into "Heineken being best selling." Why? For the same reason so many think it's so cool to stick a lemon into the neck of a clear bottle -- someone told them it was cool, no thinking for themselves -- which is what's supposed to set us apart from the "other" beer drinkers, no?

    After all, there are a lot of brown-bottled beers being sold these days, tell that to the marketers.
  20. dirtyfab

    dirtyfab Aficionado (225) New York Oct 21, 2004

    Has anyone tried these Express shipped PU's? If so, any difference?
  21. :eek: -"Confusion"? "Muddy the Waters"? I thought that was the whole point of these internet forums!

    (But what's with bringing up McKinley Morganfield... he was a champagne drinker ;) )
  22. drtth

    drtth Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Nov 25, 2007

    Unfortunately there isn't as much "crap" here as you seem to think.

    In the years post WWII there were major shortages of the ingredients needed in the manufacture of glassware, e.g.:

    http://www.cloudglass.com/davidsonpostwar.htm

    These shortages seem to have most strongly impacted Brown glass but as noted in the manufacturer's history in the link, emerald could still be produced.

    One product some war-torn European nations could produce for export without major difficulty was beer. (For a lot of reasons many breweries were not targets of any except accidental allied bombings or collateral damage.) Combine the pressure to re-establish cash flow with the shortages of ingredients to produce brown glass and you get green bottles being used to ship beer to the US for sale here. And so marketers created the green=import=better-beer campaigns. Eventually the ingredients needed to produce brown glass became available again. But when European brewers tried going back to brown glass for shipment to the US, the buying public in the US had accepted the idea that green=import=better-beer and sales plummeted. When the European marketers/brewers returned to green bottles for their US imports sales went back up again. So, (depending upon your age) it was your dad's or your grand dad's generation that bought into idea that green bottles indicate imported beers that are better than domestics.

    The current generation of marketers are well aware that lots of beer is sold in brown bottles in the US, but that is also still by volume mostly domestic beers and not imported beers. Their fear of changing from green to brown for imports is/was based in reality. The green=imports=better-beer notion created in the minds of your dad's or grand-dad's generation is still a reality in a large segment of the beer drinking public's mind. (Indeed, it is not unlike many of the myths that infect the mind of BAs that Jesskidden spends a lot of his time working to combat. ;) I'm sure he'll be happy to provide a list on request.)

    That some marketing folks are changing or ignoring green=better can be seen, as you suggest, by the appearance in brown or otherwise protected bottles of lots of beers imported for the craft brew drinkers (e.g., Westmalle, Gulden Draak). Indeed, when I'm traveling and go into a place like Total Wine I usually see more brands in brown than green bottles in the craft section of their shelves of imported beers. Even Saison Dupont has begun using brown for the 4 packs of 330 ml bottles. The problem for some marketers is that they want to target the largest segment of the market place not our tiny niche. We need to remember that Pilsner Urquell is not but one small part of a larger "global brewing empire" known as SAB Miller.
  23. steveh

    steveh Advocate (705) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    When you've worked in advertising and/or marketing as long as I have (and the green bottle BS started in my day more than my father's or grandfather's -- they drank local brews of their time, from returnable brown bottles), the "crap" is as plain as the nose on your face.
  24. drtth

    drtth Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Nov 25, 2007

    I'm not arguing against notion that there is "crap" thinking in the marketing and advertising business. (Indeed I've been attacked on this site more than once for suggesting that marketing often involves "magical thinking" and does not have as powerful an effect as some people want to think. :) )

    But I'm am suggesting that the presence of "crap" doesn't preclude there being a dose of reality that has shaped people's thinking even if they don't know the origins of that thinking or misinterpet the cause of what happened.

    As for your father or grandfather, what that tells us is that they didn't drink imported beers. However their generations included the people who first bought into the notion that green=imports=better-beer. :)
  25. steveh

    steveh Advocate (705) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    Okay, on one hand you're saying there's a "dose of reality" that has shaped thinking, and on the other you outright agree that people "bought into the notion..." So what is it?

    In my opinion, and based on living through it all, it was all about advertising and hype -- the bombardment of advertising that Heineken's distributers threw out at a time when imports weren't as popular as US beers was all hype about a pretty average beer (in its own region) being the thing to be seen with... in its "distinctive" green bottle.

    As an interesting parallel, my wife said to me last night, "Isn't it sort of amazing how long McDonald's has lasted?" It's the same reasoning of "crap" advertising and hype -- "I'm lovin' it!" Even though it's pretty mundane, mediocre food -- everyone else is eating it, it can't be that bad -- and it's everywhere!

    (and that's sort of a bad-rap comparison with Heineken -- I actually like a Heineken now and again (from a sealed case and served at the right temperature) -- I can't even recall the last time I had McDonald's!)

    *Edit (sorry, I meant to insert some emoticons here and there to show I really don't lose sleep over all this, it's only discussion and it's just beer)
    drtth likes this.
  26. drtth

    drtth Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Nov 25, 2007

    Re your edit. Not to worry. I seldom take things said in a forum seriously and I often forget the emoticons myself.

    If I may summarize.

    Your original argument was in part against the PU marketer's stated concern that they'd have trouble with sales if they used brown bottles and you suggested that was not a valid concern.

    My reply to that, with much more detail than needed, was that post WWII marketers had been handed a bag of lemons (choose green glass bottles or choose green glass bottles) and suceeded in making lemonade (green=import=better). When the attempt was made to reintroduce brown bottles the "lemonade effect" was in place and strong enough that sales were impacted. The marketers has suceeded, for what ever reason.

    While not entirely familiar with the difference in import ads between the 40s and 90s, my impression is that in the 40s what they sold was the perception that import quality was for the refined taste or educated palate just as was imported wine when compared in that era to domestic. "Cool" as an advertising tool doesn't hit until much later.

    But in either case, and regardless of why, my secondary point is that it isn't anything resembling the current generation of beer drinkers who accepted the idea green=import=better. The current generation may have bought into the idea that lime in the neck of the bottle or green glass is cool, but it was our parents or grandparents generations who accepted the idea that imported meant superior (which to me is different than cool).

    So at the end of the day I don't chose between "dose of reality" and "buying in" because for me they apply to two different sets of people. Whether the current PU marketing guy referred to way above realizes it or not his concern is based at least indirectly in reality, albeit an old one. :)

    As for the McDonald's example, there is one thing they give a customer along with the acceptable but not outstanding food quality. That is predictability. If you are a senior or have a family with small kids there is something for you at McDonalds. In lots of small towns between breakfast and lunch the McDs has replaced or become the "small town café" where a few seniors gather for coffee and to hash out the events of the day. For a family on the road or going out for dinner, you know exactly what you'll get at any McDs and you don't have to keep the kids out of trouble or entertained for long, unfilled periods of time while waiting for table service. McD's offers things other than food to certain types of folks. :)
  27. steveh

    steveh Advocate (705) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    So where does the European, brown-bottled Heineken -- let alone Amstel (which has been in brown as long as I can remember) fall into play? They can change it in Europe (from those days after WW2 -- some 70 years ago), but -- lord knows -- those N. Americans are too simple to understand it's the same beer if we change the bottle color?

    Another thing I thought about, that changes all the time these days, is web sites -- a web marketer will tell you that you always need to update and "renew" your look and feel to remain "cutting edge" to your clientele -- but the thing that always (usually) remains the same is branding (logo, logo-type, colors). With the same Heineken (or Urquell, or Spaten, or Grolsch...) label on the bottle, I don't think there would be any trouble identifying what beer you have.

    Hell, Beck's used to be a Dortmunder style, now they're selling it as a "classic German Pilsner," and it seems to still be selling -- guess it's the green bottle! ;)

    That's certainly what they've been touting all along, but I have to wonder (as in the green bottle debate) if this is valid anymore. I'd like to think that the appearance of places like Chipotle show that people are starting to expand their tastes... then again, McDonald's is still going strong.
  28. drtth

    drtth Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Nov 25, 2007

    Re the Brown bottle in Holland, its not just the US where Heineken continue to use green bottles. IIRC the brown only shows up in Holland and for the rest of the world it is the green. I agree with you that a change could be pulled off, but the impression I have from reading that book, Beer Blast by Van Munching, mentioned by Jesskidden above, is that within various corporate headquarters green is seen as being an essential element of the branding, much as the Script "Budweiser" is for a competitor's beer. And honestly, I think their mind set is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." So I don't forsee an change in the immediate future. Their beer continues to sell well. (However, I confess that some experiences in my own professional life have convinced me that I'll never understand why some corporations make the choices they do. Mostly I've given up trying. :) )

    Re the McD's, to my mind there have been several changes to them and their menu as they have adapted to changing tastes and there are signs of change in the tastes of at least some of the American public. One of them is the other places like Chipotle (but really isn't that just a McD's with Tex-Mex food?). More interesting to me as a sign of changing tastes is that about 30 years ago your choice in the Supermarket for Bread was between different labels of factory-made white bread. Your choice for cheese was often between Kraft, Kraft, or Cheese Whiz. Now you can buy bread baked fresh in the supermarket and pair it with a gouda, cheddar, blue or a locally made goat cheese with any of a variety of labels purchased in the same supermarket. And of course there is the growing appreciation of flavorful beers.

    So, at the end of the day, my advice to the PU marketing man would be to include the brown bottle as part of the signal that things have changed. As the script writers have Patton say in the movie, "L'audace, l'audace, toujour l'audace!" (But then I don't work for a subsidiary of SABMiller. :) )
  29. I would like to know when Becks was a Dortmunder?

    1950's?
  30. steveh

    steveh Advocate (705) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    Probably many years before that (even though "styling" really didn't become popular until Jackson started categorizing) and up into the 1990s (at least). After all, it's a Northern German beer from Bremen, and look at Bremen's proximity to Dortmund.

    Of course, then the debate can swing back and forth between the definitions of Dortmunder and Pilsner, but I have the feeling Beck's marketing dept. decided to use Pilsner because that style had become so popular.
  31. Echoing the Good Soldier Švejk, above, has anyone seen these on the shelves yet? Tried them?
  32. Steve, by the geography logic, Duesseldorf and Koeln would be making Dortmunders, as they are much closer that Bremen. The Ruhrrebeit is pretty small.

    Fred Eckhardt had Becks as a Pils in "The Elements of Beer Styles" 1989.

    Before Pils became popular in the 50s and 60s, maybe Becks was Export strength and was more of a Dortmunder. Have never seen and data on that, but things do change.
  33. Kudos to the Yuengling representative for admitting the complete story about green bottles and their concern about its drawbacks. As much as I would prefer they move to brown bottles for all of their products, I have to admit that I think they would lose sales if the Lager moved from green bottles. It would be great if they promoted their cans more, though. (Lord Chesterfield Ale, while nothing special, is significantly improved out of a can... like two completely different beers.)
  34. “ …has anyone seen these on the shelves yet?” I went to a local Wegman’s this past weekend and they had bottle six-packs on the shelves with the completly enclosed cardboard enclosure. There was even some ‘marketing speak’ on the cardboard about the Freshness Initiative.

    “Tried them?” I didn’t buy the Pilsner Urquell so I don’t know what it tastes like. I did buy a six-pack of Southampton Keller Pils and I am drinking one right now. This year’s version of Keller Pils is EXCELLENT!

    Cheers!
  35. I never had the chance to do the tour at the Pilsner Urquell brewery. However, when I was in Prague I had over a dozen different local beers but kept going back to Pilsner Urquell. The beer is sublime fresh and close to the course. I've had it on tap and in cans here in the US, and while it's a marked improvement over bottles, it pales in comparison to what it tastes like in The Czech Republic.

    I long for that taste again, and I applaud them for making this kind of effort. However, I just don't see how the chain from Pilzn to the US consumer can possibly be protected. As mentioned earlier, will the local SABMiller reps help enforce this directive for such a small part of their business in the States? Even so, can they cover all phases of the three-tier system (or whatever system a particular state uses)? Without adding a significant amount of new employees for such a small account (relatively speaking), I just don't see this making much of an improvement in the Pilsner Urquell we'll be buying in the US.

    We can hope, though.
  36. OK guys, I just purchased -- and opened -- a 6-pack. First impressions: upon opening the bottle not a hint of skunk; it's kind of odd in a way not to get the skunk after all these years of just living with it.... Next: there's a nice peppery, spicy Saaz hop nose that's usually (I assume) overpowered by the skunk. Taste: there's definitely something reminiscent of the fresh stuff...an earthiness like I tend to find in beers that use floor-malted pilsner malt, followed by the aforementioned spiciness and a longish, bitter finish (much more noticeably bitter than I normally associate with Urquell). One thing that seems missing is the typical softness of the brewing water...but the slight saltiness is there. Diacetyl seems decreased as well. All-in-all it's very good IM(NSH)O....
    chuckstout likes this.
  37. steveh

    steveh Advocate (705) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    Maybe, but don't forget that Bremen is a port city...

    I have that book buried too, but I don't recall him making that distinction.

    ...thus my comment above, and also some of the Breweriana I have that calls it an "Export," not a Pils. Maybe Fred was basing his assessment on his perception, but when I drank Beck's in the late 70s, it tasted identical to DAB.

    Also, try to find some lineage on Beck's labels, I remember trying one in the early 2000s and seeing "Pilsner" on the label for the first time and saying, "Pilsner? Since when?"
  38. Now getting a nice, fresh kick from the yeast...this stuff is pretty darned good.
  39. Wow! Between 6:59 EDT and 8:12 EDT you obtained your answer.

    You da man!

    Cheers!
  40. steveh

    steveh Advocate (705) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    Thinking about it some more, the term of the day, back when, was "Dortmunder-Export," and it always seemed that the 2 were lumped together. So when Beck's was referred to as an "Export" I probably connected that with Dortmunder.

    Jump to today and you find Beck's (and Heineken, for that matter) under "Premium American Lager" at the BJCP. Even I can't lump those 2 with MGD, Corona, or Coors!

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