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Old Dogs and New Tricks

Discussion in 'Article Comments' started by BeerAdvocate, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. BeerAdvocate

    BeerAdvocate Founders (17,635) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Subscriber

    Forced to chart a new course amid the industry’s double-digit growth, “big craft” breweries have resorted to fleeting trends and gimmicks to stay afloat.

    Read the full article: Old Dogs and New Tricks
     
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,057) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Another example is Stone Brewing. For 2017 they seemed to ‘double down’ on hoppy beers. The 2017 portfolio of Stone beers are predominantly beers that feature hops. Given the present day popularity of IPAs I suppose this is understandable?

    One of the Stone brands that I like(d) is their Imperial Russian Stout but this beer was not produced this year. It will be interesting to see if this beer makes a return for 2018 or if this beer will be permanently discontinued.

    Cheers!
     
    Lone_Freighter likes this.
  3. MNAle

    MNAle Champion (839) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    The large regionals are also suffering from this locavore trend. Here in MN, Summit has retrenched their distribution map. They are fighting back with the introduction of several new beers in the last 18 months, such as Keller Pils and a Belgian-Style Pale Ale. They've also done a few taproom-only releases.
     
    EvenMoreJesus likes this.
  4. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (459) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    New Belgium has made a splash with its 4.8 percent ABV Dayblazer golden ale . . the beer sells in 15-packs for a few bucks less than its standard offerings, roiling some of its peers.

    An important detail left out of this bit is that Dayblazer sells in cans. ONLY in cans, IIRC. That's something that is helping Big Craft survive the storm, as new products alone can only get you so far.

    Boston Beer has embarked on a whole new market of insipidness with its alcoholic seltzer brands.

    BBC has had it's hat in the "insipid" (alcopop, etc.) market for quite some time now. This is nothing new.
     
    tzieser and DonicBoom like this.
  5. socon67

    socon67 Poo-Bah (1,639) Jun 18, 2010 New York

    The market changed. As craft beer consumption has grown, the growth is coming from the new products to market from the up and coming breweries. I see the big craft has gotten its market share and now is in the model to retain that customer. That leads to less innovative new beers but more of the challenges of accessibility, inventory turns, and maintaining relationships. None of that is particularly easy when there are many new options competing for tap handles.
     
    EvenMoreJesus likes this.
  6. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,287) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Subscriber

    Depends on how you read it - while BBC has brewed produced Twisted Tea since the early 2000s, the Truly Spiked & Sparkling Hard Seltzer could be seen as a "...whole new market of insipidness..." :grin:
     
  7. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (459) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    With this in mind, Big Craft's "job", as I see it, is to attract non-craft drinkers to craft beer. They will serve as the introduction to something new with more non-polarizing options than niche producers who are operating under the old craft flag of "our beer is great, but it's not for everyone."
     
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,057) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    It seems to me that BIG CRAFT has been producing ‘gateway’ craft beers for quite some time:

    · Sam Adams Boston Lager (since 1984)

    · New Belgium Fat Tire (since 1991)

    · Yuengling Traditional Lager (since 1987)

    From Andy’s article:

    “Today’s generation of beer drinkers has little connection to the legacy brewers. Sam Adams Boston Lager? That’s grandpa’s beer. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale? Solid, but who drinks it? Fat Tire? My uncle drank that in college. Ouch.”

    It would seem that younger beer drinkers can’t ‘connect’ with these heritage ‘gateway’ beers?

    Maybe Boston Beer Company, New Belgium, etc. should take something from the BIG BEER playbooks and create faux brewery names (like MillerCoors is doing with the creation of Two Hats)? With the introduction of a ‘new’ brewery maybe the younger beer drinkers will buy these beers?

    I personally hate these sorts of ‘tricks’ but perhaps this is the sort of stuff that needs to be done to appeal to a new generation of beer drinkers?

    Cheers!
     
    yossle, Squire123 and LeRose like this.
  9. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (497) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    That used to be true, but I know many people that had a Harpoon IPA a decade ago, hated it and swore off the style (and in many cases craft beer altogether), but will now buy Heady Topper or drink at the Trillium Beer Garden. I think more people are jumping straight into local breweries and flat out skipping big craft.
     
    cavedave and EvenMoreJesus like this.
  10. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (459) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    While that might be true, it's more for the "culture" than it is for the beer. What do you think those people buy when they're out to dinner or on the way over to a friend's house for a cookout, if they haven't stopped by their local brewery first?

    A lot of new craft beer drinkers are drinking locally, sure, but a lot of them are inundating themselves in craft beer, as a whole, and not just their local breweries. That means that they want to drink good beer and want to be able to know it when they see it. This is the future of craft beer, as I see it. An informed consumer, who drinks craft because it's good, not just because it's local or hand-made or artisanal or ____ . After people get over the "drink local" movement, which many will, where will their loyalties lie? I, for one, hope that those loyalties support good beer, no matter where it's made.
     
    yossle, JayORear, Dandrewjohn and 3 others like this.
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,057) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    I would suppose that this theory should be fairly easy to prove out via marketing & sales data. There should be a decline in craft beer sales across the board by beer retailers (liquor stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, etc.).

    Cheers!

    @RobH @Sixpoint @sierranevadabill @KOP_Beer_OUtlet
     
  12. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (497) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Honestly, around here, if people are going to a party and stop at the corner liquor store, they buy Lord Hobo or Castle Island. It's still local, an IPA, and in a 4-pack format, so it's basically the same thing for a lot of people, but easier to find.
     
    breadwinner, LeRose and EvenMoreJesus like this.
  13. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (459) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Guess it's a bit different depending upon where you are located. Here in Pittsburgh, there is little, if any, great (truly) local beer in the stores. There's certainly stuff from Eastern PA and from Ohio, but not a lot of packaged local stuff to be had here.
     
  14. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,287) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Subscriber

    [​IMG]
     
    DonicBoom and EvenMoreJesus like this.
  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,057) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Maybe we will more of this 'stuff' but personally I hope not. This crap comes off as obfuscation to me.

    Cheers!
     
  16. Celtics76

    Celtics76 Defender (642) Sep 5, 2011 Rhode Island

    The problem I have with the local craze is there's actually less variety in terms of styles. All of these hip breweries brew mainly IPA/Stouts because that's what people go crazy for. Forget about brown ales, ESBs, etc. In the "old days" (10-15 years ago) I could go to a brewery/brewpub and have my pick of several styles.
     
  17. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (459) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Agreed 100%. We have one here in Pittsburgh that basically only brews hazy hoppy beer and an occasional porter or stout. They make terrific hoppy beer, but that doesn't really give people a lot of wiggle room when they go to choose a beer nor does it let them expand their horizons if they are new to craft beer. Obviously a lot of breweries are creating a business around said hazy hoppy beers, but that's not the whole craft beer enchilada. I just hope the people that are new to the scene know this.
     
    storm72 likes this.
  18. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,179) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    I think this is true. My son is always buying Boom Sauce now for different things he attends that one brings beer to <where the hell is the confused emoji> It is a good beer, reasonably priced for tall boys, and you can find it damn near anywhere. He used to buy SNPA or Torpedo all the time, now it's Boom Sauce. The over-riding point is he's not going to a brewery to stand in line and pick up a half case or growler to bring to the disc golf cookout. I'd say a Lord Hobo (or Jack's Abby or Castle Island, etc) lies somewhere in between - they aren't so exclusive that you have to do the Easter egg hunt to find 'em, but they are still below the scale of even some regional breweries and remain reasonably priced. Nobody is going to turn up their nose at a Jack's Abby House Lager - this beer exists, I think, for just that reason. Caters to a wider audience, reasonably priced, easy to find, and upholds at least the "image" of craft/localish.

    My personal opinion with nothing to back it up shows my cynical side. I think some percentage of people jump headlong into craft for the experience, which includes the whole seen and being seen thing. It's an "in" thing to do, and it's just another way for people to show how connected they are with whatever is deemed cool - yet another selfie-inducing "look at me" moment. I think of the people who get onto any bandwagon - artisan bread, tea, Starbuck's (when they got here, not so much now), etc. Whatever they can hitch their wagon to that creates that whole social sense of belonging thing. (yeah - we just had a review of some consumer testing data...I guess that is coloring my outlook at the moment).
     
  19. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (459) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    This mentality certainly dominates the "drink local" scene, however it can certainly be seen across the board. I remember walking into Blind Tiger a couple years ago with my wife and laughing with her that most of the people in the bar were just there to be there, didn't care what was going on around them, and couldn't take their eyes off of their phones. We drank a couple beers and left, but it's funny to see the inhabitants of a World Class beer bar only really being concerned about telling and showing people that they were there and not making the best of the experience.
     
    LeRose likes this.
  20. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,252) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Wow I think the local craze has ushered in just the opposite around here. I can regularly get at least ten styles that aren't IPA's pretty regularly, all fresh and world class, and that is as good as it has ever been here.

    Then again I'm old and remember when you could get any style of beer at the neighborhood bar, so long as it was an AAL.
     
  21. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,179) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    I do think we are starting to see some "blow back" where other styles are taking precedence. I think we stopped at four breweries on our vacation, and I would have to say that IPA was in the minority - not by much at one stop, but one place only offered one IPA. The popularity of a place like Oxbow would also seem to indicate that people are at least willing to try different styles.

    I remember those days too - shot, beer, cigarette/cigar (even though I never smoked). Two kinds of beer - warm and cold.
     
    drtth, Squire123, VABA and 2 others like this.
  22. Celtics76

    Celtics76 Defender (642) Sep 5, 2011 Rhode Island

    I live pretty much at the center of Hazy IPA heaven, in northern RI. The top breweries - Proclamation, Tilted Barn, Trillium etc. focus mainly on Pale Ales/IPAs/Stouts. It's world class stuff but if you want variety look elsewhere.
     
  23. breadwinner

    breadwinner Meyvn (1,163) Mar 6, 2014 California
    Beer Trader

    I always chuckle when I see Lord Hobo get some stick around here (particularly on the NE board), because several friends, as well as some family in the area, swear by it. These are your classic, recent-to-craft-but-really-only-because-they-know-it's-not-cool-to-drink-Budweiser-anymore crowd. I remember one friend being in town here out West, saying how he had a case of Heady in his fridge at home. I was like, "Yeah, man, Heady's great stuff," and he replied, "Dude, we got this one called Boom Sauce. Just like Heady. Everybody loves it, and you can get it way easier."

    I highly doubt I'd read the NE sub suggest Heady and Boom Sauce are in the same leauge, but, point is, in the real world a lot of folks could care less about BA ratings/reputations, they just want something that's local and "cool".
     
    EnronCFO likes this.
  24. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,252) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I am having a hard time feeling sorry for you :grin:
     
    Celtics76 likes this.
  25. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,028) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    I remember when it was mostly bars like that - I drove past many of them to get to the good places :wink::grin:.
     
    breadwinner and cavedave like this.
  26. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,028) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Yikes! Oh well, it just takes some places longer to catch on than others, unfortunately. :sunglasses::wink:
     
    cavedave and ecpho like this.
  27. kojevergas

    kojevergas Poo-Bah (7,277) Aug 15, 2010 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Give us derivative Stony Brook Red and La Folie variants, guys. Grab your "mother" sours and start fruiting and aging in different wine barrels. We'll buy.
     
    tzieser likes this.
  28. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Aspirant (280) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    Well, I can forgive them the insipidness, just as long as they keep making their tasty Boston Lager.
     
    Duckaduck and tzieser like this.
  29. socon67

    socon67 Poo-Bah (1,639) Jun 18, 2010 New York

    Agreed. I'm not a fan of these offerings that are a new brand but in reality an extension of big craft. I don't recall any of them producing an innovative beer to market. If anything, it makes the big craft's products seem better by comparison.
     
  30. CNoj012

    CNoj012 Meyvn (1,155) Dec 7, 2014 New York
    Beer Trader

    I don't enjoy seltzer water with or without alcohol, but if Boston Beer was looking for an uptick in sales, they hit the nail on the head with Truly. The variety 12pks have been flying off our shelves all summer. In fact, once we brought in Truly we phased out the AB owned Boathouse Spiked Seltzer because sales died almost immediately. We still carry White Claw products, but for us at least, sales numbers pale in comparison to Truly.
     
    HoppingMadMonk and drtth like this.
  31. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (643) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    While local beer is great and fresh it has a much bigger price than the big guys. $14 and up for a 4 pack is not what I want to pay for beer. $16 and up for a growler and it goes on up.

    Many don't even see packages and any others you need to line up for.

    Beer is a thing I like to drink with people I like to hangout with. If it's Hamms or Heady I don't really care.

    For me its much easier to buy what's readily available and be done. I don't live close enough to any place that i can walk there and driving to drink one beer is not worth it to me.

    Enjoy
     
    Spade and breadwinner like this.
  32. surfcaster

    surfcaster Defender (628) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
    Supporter Beer Trader

    The article refers to SNPA and "but who drinks it?" Well, I do and it is till a huge seller with more production than the prob the lowest 1000 breweries added together. Sure not as big as once was--they also have more things prob stealing away but no doubt local/small have affected it.

    As far as Old Dogs and New Tricks, SN does seem to be staying relevant. There are several things this fall personally I am looking forward to and, oh yeah--the seasonals Bigfoot and Celebration are annual tricks I NEVER miss--fo' sho'

    Sure not on the trade boards but SN remains relevant and a winner in MY book with new tricks for this older dog.
     
  33. InfiniteJester23

    InfiniteJester23 Initiate (137) Apr 26, 2017 California
    Beer Trader

    There seems to be a lot of taking a piss on "drink local" here, which I don't understand. There are only a limited amount of beer dollars to go around; why wouldn't I prefer to spend it picking up six-packs at my local, where the brewers will walk out to the regulars and ask what kind of beer they should brew next, as opposed to Sam Adams, which has traveled across the country through uncertain conditions, and where my money is funding their new alcoholic seltzer line (?! honestly thought this was a joke at first) instead of anything I'd like to drink. What am I missing here?
     
  34. surfcaster

    surfcaster Defender (628) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Nothing wrong with loving local--I really support my local. Just went by a new place in town en route home. Exceptional.

    But I still love SN--great beer now, ok-- a little nostalgia . And some well earned respect.

    It's all good.
     
  35. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,028) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    In the long run it's better for everyone if we hold our locals to the highest standard. If you don't cut it, sorry Charlie.
     
  36. InfiniteJester23

    InfiniteJester23 Initiate (137) Apr 26, 2017 California
    Beer Trader

    Agree completely! Buying from a subpar local just because it is local is just silly. But buying from a local brewery that makes beer you enjoy, and that engages in substantive involvement with their local community, is pretty awesome.

    I should note that I'm completely spoiled in this regard, as Bruery, Bottle Logic, and Beachwood are all practically in my backyard, as well as less-talked-about-but-still-great breweries like Good Beer Co, Unsung, or Gunwhale. Given how easy it is for me to drink great beer and drink local at the same time, it just seems a no-brainer to me. I definitely understand that this situation isn't the case for everyone though!

    Also, to refer to a thread from a few months ago: regardless of how you feel about "drink local", if you turn down a free SNPA because it's not "craft enough" for you, then you are a bad person. Enough said.
     
  37. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (459) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Interesting discussion that you had with yourself, there. :wink:
     
    InfiniteJester23 likes this.
  38. ckornmannn

    ckornmannn Aspirant (270) Jun 8, 2014 Washington

    I think its important to support your local independently owned brewery. We're lucky that there are so many new breweries making really great beer. On the flip side, I don't shun the beers the big independently owned breweries are doing. So far Deschutes is incapable of making bad or even mediocre beer in my experience. Same with Sierra Nevada. New Belgium has been doing a lot of fruity beers that I don't care for lately, but the Belgian white is fantastic. And I don't understand why everyone knocks fat tire. If you want a biscuity amber ale it is really good!
     
  39. Dandrewjohn

    Dandrewjohn Initiate (150) Apr 13, 2013 Texas

    If the new business model is small, local brewers focused on small geographic areas in the pursuit of a "drink local" customer base, then I'd say a shakeout is eventually coming. The market can only withstand so much fragmentation, and nobody will be making money. Lack of economy of scale will kill off a lot of them. Indeed, rationalization has already started and may be the next big trend.
     
  40. MNAle

    MNAle Champion (839) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Financially, it's the other way around, isn't it?
     
    TongoRad and jesskidden like this.
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