Limited release: better or worse? And, for whom?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by dougfur, Feb 20, 2013.

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  1. dougfur

    dougfur Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2011 New York

    Many of the best beers out there are only available seasonally. Why is that? Does Troegs make more money by only releasing nugget nectar in the winter? Does Kern River make more by only releasing citra from time to time? You'd think when you brewed up a beer that was as highly rated/anticipated as these two, you'd start making a lot more... I'm not sure I buy that making the beer regularly hurts sales. Heady Topper gets cranked out week after week, all year round and it's number 1 on the list and it does not linger on shelves anywhere!
  2. denver10

    denver10 Poo-Bah (2,229) Nov 17, 2010 New Mexico

    The limited release schedule of Deschutes's Red Chair is definitely for the worse...for me.
  3. regularjohn

    regularjohn Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2013 New Jersey

    if certain beers were really that 'easy' to get they would become old news rather quickly, and they wouldn't sell as much anymore because people would get sick of them thus being discontinued IMO. give em a taste and they will be back for more, you cant always have your cake and eat it too or in this case, beer <- so clever i know :rolling_eyes:
  4. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,066) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Lagunitas is pretty good about making popular seasonals into year-rounders, so it does happen.

    I would suppose all things have to fall into line with the rest of a brewery's production schedule, space, ingredient contracts, distribution contracts (that probably demand a seasonal release of some sort), etc...

    fwiw- I wouldn't call Nugget Nectar 'limited'- we're swimming in it and probably will be for a while. It's really just a 'seasonal'.
    jlenik, frazbri and RobertColianni like this.
  5. dougfur

    dougfur Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2011 New York

    That probably is the mentality, but again, I would draw attention to Heady Topper. They've been going year round for almost two years now and momentum is only building. Pliny still sells pretty well...
  6. dougfur

    dougfur Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2011 New York

    Nice image. Our pool of NN is a little smaller up here in the frozen wastes. I had one tonight though.
  7. beerinmaine

    beerinmaine Initiate (0) Jun 20, 2009 Maine

    Almost every brewery is capacity-limited these days. So if they make a certain seasonal beer year-round, there's no capacity for the other seasonal beers normally brewed in its place. It's not possible to make them all year-round, generally.

    Secondly, we as consumers like variety. I think most of us would prefer 5 seasonals to 1 year-round. It would be boring if many breweries did just one or two beers instead of a seasonal rotation.

    Brewers like variety too. They don't want to make exactly the same thing every day forever.

    And there is a natural seasonality to beer. For the most part, folks prefer a lighter beer in the summer -- you just wouldn't sell as much strong bourbon barrel stout in the summer when it's 95 degrees, compared to 15 degrees in a snowstorm.

    Heady Topper is an exception - the ONLY beer they make, severely capacity-limited so oversupply cannot be an issue, and a huge hype surrounding it. (not necessarily an justified hype...but hype nonetheless)
    AxesandAnchors likes this.
  8. Schmuck82

    Schmuck82 Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2008 Texas

    Well everyone knows a beer tastes better when not as many people get to drink it.
  9. MortalKombat14

    MortalKombat14 Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2012 Michigan

    Well this forum fails to mention any bourbon barrel aging beers. Founders can't have an unlimited supply of Kentucky Breakfast Stout or Backwoods Bastard. Since those beers age for 9 months and 12 months respectively. But I agree with certain beers not being year around or least being brought out a couple times a year. Hopslam is the perfect example of this. It's pretty much out in January and is drinkable for 2 months and then boom gone for another 10 months. I think it would make perfect sense for Bells to bring it out in July or August when it's warm out as well.
  10. Manoftyr

    Manoftyr Initiate (0) May 6, 2009 New York

    It's about feeding the great hype-machine, making beers limited adds a mystique factor and that drives up acquisition inventive in the consumer.
  11. keysburg

    keysburg Initiate (138) Mar 28, 2012 Massachusetts

    Can you really compare Heady Topper with very limited distribution to Troegs 30ish distributors in 10 states?

    The Alchemist's business model is an anomaly. When their brewpub was destroyed by Irene they were fortunate enough to have the cannery to fall back on, and a ridiculously popular product to sell. They've chosen to focus on that for now - for which many people love them - but its been at the expense of a more well rounded and creative product line.

    There's a trade off there for any brewery - more beers that go year-round, the less room there is for innovation, experimentation, and variety. Making more limited beers increases opportunities for those, and this consumer thinks that's a good thing.
    frazbri likes this.
  12. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    I think if founders made CBS year round it would still sell well same goes for 3 floyds and Dark Lord I'd be happy even if that meant both those breweries made nothing else.
  13. zstef99

    zstef99 Initiate (41) Dec 25, 2008 New York

    People want things that are difficult to get. In the case of limited releases by larger breweries the beers are hard to get because of the limited release. In the case of Pliny and Heady they're available year round but they're still hard to get (for most people) because of limited distribution coupled with high demand. I actually think it's the same phenomenon driving the desirability of both the limited release and the limited distribution beers.
  14. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    I agree with some of what your saying so why not have Founders and 3 Floyds keep making the good stuff but only distribute locally or even only at their Brewery I'd like that much better than a single day a year for Dark Lord and basically a single day for CBS.
  15. xnicknj

    xnicknj Initiate (0) May 25, 2009 Pennsylvania

    no brewery can make everything all the time. beers are rotated seasonally or occasionally so they can free up room in the tanks for more beer. if troegs brewed nugget nectar all year round, it would come at the expense of other year-round brands they might depend on.

    barrel aged, high ABV, sour, etc type beers typically have to be smaller releases since it's dependent on how many barrels the brewery has, as well as available resources and man power. unless they intend on being a niche brand like Jolly Pumpkin or Cascade, there's only so much time and money they can spend on these projects if they intend to regularly produce pale ales, IPAs, brown ales, etc which pay the regular bills all year round, not just for one week out of the year.
  16. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    you might have a point but seriously 1 DAY A YEAR and in the case of CBS even less than 1 day a year!!!!!!!!!????????
  17. chcfan

    chcfan Devotee (466) Oct 29, 2008 California

    Part of it is "always keep them wanting" and part of it is that some beers have lower margins and have opportunity cost impact with things like longer fermentation time and -bal aging. It's just not realistic to constantly pump out certain styles for most breweries.
  18. brewsader

    brewsader Initiate (0) Dec 7, 2012 New York
    Beer Trader

    brewers like to drink their beer too. i'm sure if it was easy for RR to do PtY year round they would if for no other reason than the fact that theyd get to drink it year round themselves.
  19. DarkDragon999

    DarkDragon999 Aspirant (272) Feb 13, 2013 Rhode Island

    Doesn't bother me at all. There's plenty of good year round beers that I havent even tried yet.
    jRocco2021 and nickapalooza86 like this.
  20. AJDePaul

    AJDePaul Initiate (0) Jun 29, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I think seasonal limited releases also keeps these breweries relevant. Lagunitas, while many of their styles are good, doesn't have that once a year blast in publicity that these other brewers have. How often do you hear the Lagunitas name on this site? When a limited release comes out from Kuhnhenn all you hear about is Kuhnhenn this and Kuhnhenn that... you even see an uptick in other Kuhnhenn beers being trading in the trading forum. It's all about branding and marketing.

    These breweries are not just selling beer, they are selling the feeling of being part of a special small group that gets to experience this limited brew. The end result is a sense of accomplishment from the buyer who hunted or waited hours in line and who has a sense of being part of a small circle who gets to taste these delicious beers. They in turn feel a connection to the brewery and are more apt to purchase the year round offerings. My 2cents

    Neuromarketing... great book.
    Ivegotmule and Lognar like this.
  21. zstef99

    zstef99 Initiate (41) Dec 25, 2008 New York

    If CBS were available more regularly we probably wouldn't be talking about it right now. Creating a limited supply of a desirable product is a way for breweries to get people to pay attention, which leads to a higher profile for their entire product line. The near mythic status of these beers is a huge marketing boost. Founders is probably my favorite brewery but I don't think they'd be as popular as they are if not for their limited offerings.
  22. phillybeer7779

    phillybeer7779 Initiate (0) May 31, 2010 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Because the syrup barrels CBS is aged in are pretty limited themselves. 3 Floyd's doesn't make more DL because they don't want to be responsible for a diabetes epidemic.
    YogiBeer and evilc like this.
  23. kdb150

    kdb150 Devotee (485) Mar 8, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Exactly! Craft breweries can't afford traditional marketing, so they have to find alternate methods to generate buzz about their products. Having a sought-after limited release in your repetoire is probably the best way to do it, because it elevates the profile of ALL of a brewery's brands. For example, Victory has tried to break into the special release market, first with Dark Intrigue, and then with Red Thunder, and I'm betting there are plenty of breweries across the country who try to generate buzz and interest with a special release.

    Marketing experts will tell you that a consumer's relationship with products he or she buys can be complex, and I think that is especially true in the case of craft beer. Think of the lengths people will go to get a special release, the joy they will experience at getting it, the cameraderie created among a group of people who share a passion for craft beer who meet at a special event, or the sadness and disappointment some might feel at missing out on a beer. A lot of what determines the beer people choose to buy is determined by factors other than the beer itself.
    Northlax3 and CowsandBeer like this.
  24. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    If FFF made DL year round, the sugar industry would be booming. So would the barf bag industry.
    draheim likes this.
  25. Scalzo

    Scalzo Aspirant (244) Feb 27, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Youd be happy with no Zombie Dust or KBS?

    shame on you
    YogiBeer likes this.
  26. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,431) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    The vast majority of beers I buy are limited/seasonal/semi-rare, and expensive. So clearly this practice is good for the breweries and bad for me.
    Sarlacc83 likes this.
  27. westcoastbeerlvr

    westcoastbeerlvr Poo-Bah (1,788) Oct 19, 2010 California

    I know that in the case of Kern River, they have not been able to expand their brewery because of water issues in the septic-only, 1600 person town of Kernville. They have a steady demand for their "house beers" (their red, blond, normal IPA, stout, etc), not to mention the brewer actually prefers to drink Just Outsanding to Citra. Each batch of these take approximately 1/2-1/4 the time of Citra, due to the extensive dry-hopping schedule, and they are much much cheaper to make ingredients-wise (the amount of hops in Citra are far and away the most expensive part of the bill). Because they don't want to charge $20 a bomber, they choose to only make it as an occasional treat for their loyal fans, because it's just not cost effective for them. Plus, there's all the difficulties in arranging large hop-contracts for exotic hops such as Citra. I'm sure I'm leaving out other considerations as well.
    beerindex and albertq17 like this.
  28. tgchief

    tgchief Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2010 Iowa

    Part of the reason we are independent craft brewers is to continually innovate. Just because us brewers hit the nail on the head with a perfect brew, remember, many of us started out to push the limits of what we can create! Not what we can mass produce. We get bored making the same great beer over and over and yes we do it, but not to the point that it will stifle our creative flow.

    Also, you just can not buy all the Simcoe, Citra, Amarillo, etc hops any time you want to. I would love to make our Biter year round, but then their goes the Golden Nugget.

    As far as the price being expensive, the profit margin is always less (for us anyways) in our new creations because typically they take more time, ingredients, hand work, barrels etc...versus the beers we "mass" produce.

    Don't chase away the innovators unless you want to go back to the choices in the 70's and 80's of most beer being barely distinguishable in taste from the other 6 breweries running the show.

  29. ErmaGerd

    ErmaGerd Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2013 Iowa
    Beer Trader

    I'll throw in my hat with this guy, seems to me a brewer can only do so much at once.
  30. jageraholic

    jageraholic Disciple (396) Sep 16, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    It's very justified hype.
  31. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    When something is available all the time it loses it's luster. When people know they can only get something for a limited time they tend to purchase it more aggressively.
  32. dougfur

    dougfur Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2011 New York

    That's an answer that makes sense to me. Thanks!
  33. dougfur

    dougfur Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2011 New York

    Also a very reasonable answer, though I don't think there's anything tough about the hop bill in nugget nectar. Thanks!
  34. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (381) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Considering the higher cost (in ingredients, equipment use, etc.) of many smaller-batch beers, I'm curious if there are instances of brewers pricing them below cost to act as loss-leader publicity for the rest of the product line.
  35. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    I would I love anything aged in maple syrup barrels its not just CBS I really want to get to try Fayston maple barrel aged maple imperial stout
  36. Sam_Frank

    Sam_Frank Initiate (0) Nov 29, 2012 California

    what is the story of how it came about? (for those who don't know)
  37. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    KBS is good but also overrated regular Dark Lord is much better and the barrel aged is even better yet as for zombie dust I don't like pale ales. Please if your reading this Three Floyds consider sacrificing anything it takes to make more Dark Lord or at least let me buy a case on Dark Lord day I'm sure I'm not the only one with that wish.
  38. MammaGoose

    MammaGoose Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2013 Wyoming

    I like seasonals, but I don't get too excited about limited releases or rare beers. I like that seasonals give more variety, they're usually (obviously) seasonally appropriate, and I can enjoy them because I know another seasonal will come and I'll get to enjoy this one next year. With limited releases/rare beers, there's just more stress involved. Getting your hands on it, locating it, fighting the crowds for it, paying for it, and then if you love it, who knows if you'll ever get it again? I know that's a rush for some people, or if you just want to tick it, but I don't really care for it.

    I'll always enjoy seasonals, but I generally won't pay a huge amount just for the chance to try a limited/rare beer. If it became a regular seasonal or I know it'll be available again, I'd be more interested in paying for it.
  39. Scalzo

    Scalzo Aspirant (244) Feb 27, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I would take KBS over Dark Lord any day.

    Behemoth, Gumballhead, Dreadnaught and the rest of their double IPAs are just as good as Dark Lord too, and they are easier to brew

    It doesnt make sense for a brewery to make so much of a 15% beer either.

    I also imagine its a sticky mess to make. Considering how sweet of a stout it is
  40. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    I'm not saying I don't like any of the stuff you mentioned but to me Dark Lord is in a league of its own and if you include the barrel aged versions is one of the greatest beers ever made and one I wish I could drink every day or at least once a week and when you'll take KBS over Dark Lord any day does that mean you'll trade me all your '13 Dark Lords for any '13 KBS I get?
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