Should brewers label updated beers differently?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by bobhits, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. bobhits

    bobhits Meyvn (1,108) Oct 31, 2006 Kentucky

    Stone 1.1 has me thinking about this as there doesn't seem to be a review for the 1.1, separating it from the superior, imo, original. But I've also seen this with some greenflash beers as well as other stone beers (crime and punishment).

    So I wonder if there is a time or a place when a beer is a "new beer" and when the slight tweaks don't justify a new one?

    For what it is worth the new stone ipa 1.1 is a new beer imo, and would receive a drastically lower score from me. However they get huge props on the bottle dating, they upgraded that part!

    I guess the next part is, should breweries be asked to label these differently as stone has done, green flash didn't and how much information should we the consumer get on changes? It seems silly but since we review these things and our reviews last forever, it seems odd to have a review for what is essentially a new beer.
     
    HorseheadsHopHead likes this.
  2. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,345) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Subscriber

    If significant changes have been made, I think brewers should rebrand the beer. It informs the consumer, sets expectations and allows the updated beer to stand on its own.

    And just for reference, this is how we treat listing beers:
    https://www.beeradvocate.com/community/threads/how-to-add-beers-on-beeradvocate.193134/
     
  3. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (7,935) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I think they should, but at the same time I can see why they wouldn't - cost.

    It costs a lot of money to create a brand, from state registrations to packaging and advertising. If that brand doesn't go over well it might be the packaging and name, or it might be the beer. If it's the beer then why not change it and save yourself some money rather than starting over?

    Brooklyn's Greenmarket Wheat comes to mind. It was originally done with a Belgian yeast, but then they changed it to a Bavarian strain, I'm assuming because it improved the beer. The name and the idea behind the beer, however, are probably more important than the specifics of the beer though, so I can see why they'd keep it the same. They did change the information on the label though.

    Another side to it is that sometimes beers just kind of change naturally, evolving and morphing into something else. For whatever reason - maybe the yeast was changed, maybe the hops weren't available, maybe the brewery switched their base malt and it just seemed to want to be a different beer, or perhaps it just needed an update and some tropical hops did the trick - there are many reasons... should they just chuck the old label and create a new one? And I'm sure that's a question that every brewer that's done that has asked themselves.
     
  4. jvgoor3786

    jvgoor3786 Defender (695) May 28, 2015 Arkansas
    Beer Trader

    Southern Prohibition just changed Devil's Harvest from an APA to a "Breakfast IPA." They changed the beer, changed the can, but didn't change the name. That's annoying to me. The new beer, however, is delicious.
     
    Harrison8 likes this.
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,629) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    "Should brewers label updated beers differently?"

    Yes!!

    Cheers!
     
    Squire123 likes this.
  6. Wasatch

    Wasatch Poo-Bah (4,603) Jun 8, 2005 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I say yes as well.

    Cheers!
     
  7. tillmac62

    tillmac62 Meyvn (1,389) Oct 2, 2013 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Yes, absolutely.
     
  8. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Meyvn (1,266) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    If it's a true update, and not a biproduct of a bad harvest for any mash ingredients, then yes. A beer carries a particular persona that some folks may love and some may hate. Changing the beer inside the bottle/can without alerting the customer by skimping on marketing research, or properly registering a new label could result in folks being turned off from a beer and brewery they've drank for years. Like wise, a new potential customer may continue to see that same label art and think "ehhh, that's that beer in _____ style, and I don't like that style at all".
     
    Grizzarky likes this.
  9. Giantspace

    Giantspace Devotee (491) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Yes, a change should get a new label stating a change was made. Stone with their .1 is ok with me. At least I know there is something different. Southern tier changed the 2x IPA recipe(made it public) but don t think the label changed. Columbus IPA changed labels and the IPA is not the same. What was my all time favorite IPA is now a beer I no longer dream about.

    Enjoy
     
    Grizzarky likes this.
  10. ichorNet

    ichorNet Defender (603) Mar 16, 2010 Massachusetts

    Southern Tier has definitely done this with some stuff before. Off the top of my head, Farmer's Tan went from being an imperial pilsner to a session IPA :confused:. Just come up with a new name, guys. It was a totally different format, too. :rolleyes:
     
  11. Wasatch

    Wasatch Poo-Bah (4,603) Jun 8, 2005 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    How about getting the right label on the brew!

    Cheers!
     
  12. Kingfred

    Kingfred Initiate (29) Jan 6, 2016 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I was just talking to someone about this with the King Sue. I had it almost a year ago and it was no where near as hazy/juicy as it is now. The label is more of a orange color to show the change. But it's just a totally different beer all together imo
     
    Grizzarky likes this.
  13. aquabears

    aquabears Disciple (321) Mar 29, 2016 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    I ran into this today. Went to a brewery and was asked if I had tried one of the beers on tap. I said yes, and they asked how recently. I said oh, not sure, pretty recently probably. Then they said that the recipe had changed pretty much 100% within the past month.

    Well, haven't had it then I guess.

    I haven't thought this out, really, but it seems that if EVERYTHING changes it merits a new name. Especially smaller places that don't need to worry about branding. If it is minor tweaks, keep the name the same, or say "beer X, 2012-14," "beer X, 2015- ," and so on.
     
  14. utopiajane

    utopiajane Poo-Bah (2,216) Jun 11, 2013 New York

    Also like west coast IPA which is now a DIPA.
     
  15. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (606) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands
    Subscriber

    How big would the change need to be to require relabelling? Breweries are constantly tinkering with their recipes. If only because barley and hops are agricultural products which aren't identical from one year to the next.
     
    rgordon, sharpski, zid and 2 others like this.
  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,629) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Last year Stone made a minor change to the dry-hop for their IPA so they decided to re-label this beer as Stone IPA v1.1. I think this was an appropriate decision on Stone's part.

    Ron, what do you think about this example?

    Cheers!
     
  17. zid

    zid Crusader (733) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    I'm not Ron, but I am not a fan of the idea of BEER v1.1. That's different from if it's appropriate.
     
  18. pat61

    pat61 Poo-Bah (3,875) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota
    Subscriber

    I would think that if a brewer feels the need to update a beer then it is not meeting their sales expectations. A minor tweak can probably get by without relabeling but anything significant enough to revive a flagging brand might do better with a new name. But then it is their money on the line - not mine.
     
    Squire123 likes this.
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,629) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Chris, if you were President of Stone Brewing how would you have relabeled the new version of Stone IPA?

    Cheers!
     
  20. zid

    zid Crusader (733) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Well, my position of "not being a fan" is strictly a consumer perspective. It's tied to what I react to on the shelf as opposed to the business realities of being a product manufacturer. Although many do, I can't pretend that there's fluidity from one perspective to the other, but both perspectives are valid in the marketplace.

    To humor you though, if I was "President of Fictitious Stone Brewing," and my marketing department told me that we should start naming our beers the way that software companies name their products, I would gag. I would tell them that it is not "arrogant" enough to name our beers like computer software. Then they would tell me that we need to do it to "stay relevant" and get out of the red... and that giving our beers version numbers will maintain the built in audience who is loyal to our old beer... while simultaneously appealing to the people who only want to try what is "new"... and that it's a win-win. I'll counter by explaining that the fans of the original might feel alienated... and the lovers of the new will only buy 1.1 one time anyway. Then they'll tell me that that's when we release "Stone IPA Classic" alongside "New Stone IPA 1.2" and everyone will jump for joy. Then in a moment of rage I would tell them that we need to do this one of two ways... either brew "Stone IPA" as our IPA and retire all of the 30 other IPAs we put on the brewing schedule... or embrace that we are an IPA brewery and let something called "Stone IPA" retire. Then they'll tell me that I an running the company like an opinionated BeerAdvocate member. Then there's a hostile takeover.

    I hope nobody actually read all that.
     
  21. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (606) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands
    Subscriber

    Not big enough to warrant a label change.
     
    drtth likes this.
  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,629) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    So, do you have an example of what would constitute "big enough"?

    Cheers!
     
  23. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (606) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands
    Subscriber

    Several new ingredients or one really dramatic one. Something that changes the character of the beer significantly.
     
    utopiajane likes this.
  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,629) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Well, needless to say the term "significantly' is subjective but I think I am getting your perspective here.

    Cheers!
     
  25. zid

    zid Crusader (733) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Keep in mind that @patto1ro 's research has probably revealed many cases of huge changes made over time to beers that have kept their name regardless.
     
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,629) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I am a more contemporary kind of a guy!;)

    Cheers!
     
    zid likes this.
  27. bobhits

    bobhits Meyvn (1,108) Oct 31, 2006 Kentucky

    This might be perhaps my biggest issue. With stone (the 1.1 wasn't noticed till I tasted it and wondering what in hell I'd bought) or west coast, those were flagship beers and they'd been very consistent for years. Now I'm a bit confused why people didn't make a Stone IPA 1.1 beer for review, it's been out long enough where I won't be adding it, but it does somewhat bother me that I have a glowing review for a beer that I'd now rate 1.5 points lower. I fully support the decisions by the site, thanks to todd for posting, on not making it a new beer, but this seems like an issue for the brewery too. If I go and read the top reviewers comments and it sounds like he/she is drinking a different beer is that good for the brand?

    So for flagship beers, or classics that really have a large fan fair, I'd really appreciate new labels even if the changes are small (unless it's based on supply or something like that).

    For annual releases or small batch beers, I'm a lot more open.
     
  28. KingCobra686

    KingCobra686 Aspirant (295) Aug 13, 2014 Connecticut
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Dont think there is one single answer to this question.

    -If the difference is just a small tweak in the recipe then it doesnt seem necessary and would be a lot of trouble for no real benefit to customer or brewer.
    -If the beer is constantly being changed but sold under the same label and name, it is in a brewers interest to either rebrand or state that its a rotating recipe, like Nightshift Morph. If they dont do that they risk being seen as a brewery with poor quality control and lots of batch variation.
    -If the difference is a massive change to the beer and the final taste, then a rebranding seems necessary. Customers dont want to be blindsided by a completely different beer than they wanted to drink.
     
  29. rgordon

    rgordon Defender (653) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    If they kept the name and said something prominently like, "we've found a way to make your favorite beer better" , I think they might gain customers. There are a number of breweries that I would trust to continue working on recipes of their best proprietary iconic beers.
     
    Squire123 likes this.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,629) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Dick, is Sixpoint on your list here?

    Cheers!
     
  31. thuey

    thuey Initiate (169) Nov 13, 2015 California

    Does Luponic Distortion Rev ### count?
     
  32. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (606) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands
    Subscriber

    Exactly. Barclay Perkins X Ale is a good example. It was several totally different things over its 120 year life.
     
  33. rgordon

    rgordon Defender (653) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Interestingly, I have never tried any Sixpoint beers. But from what I have read they seem to be versatile and trustworthy for sure.
     
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