Wormtown six packs, expansion, and local ingredients

Discussion in 'New England' started by jbertsch, Aug 30, 2013.

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  1. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,076) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    I was going to post this on the recent Be Hoppy thread, but given a larger question I'm posing, I’m starting a new one.

    There’s a new book called “Beer Terrain: Field to Glass from the Berkshires to the Maine Coast” and on Amazon you can read the 1st chapter which focuses primarily on Wormtown and their efforts to use a certain percentage of local ingredients in their beers. I came across a fun tidbit, but also became curious what some of you think about another point…

    First off, it mentions an expansion for Wormtown in 2014 with a new space including a taproom. But also that they plan to release 6packs! I don’t think I’d be the only one excited at the idea of Be Hoppy in a sixer format – assuming the cost per oz will drop a bit.

    Secondly, I was curious how much it mattered to other beer geeks that Wormtown (or any local brewery) used local ingredients. I assume nobody is against that and many would be for it (me included). But how much do you care in relation to retail price? The chapter says using local malt costs Wormtown 2-3 times more than buying it from afar (due to higher farming costs in MA partly because of high land cost). I assume this is one reason why Wormtowm bombers aren’t cheap and why some of us, as voiced in other threads, balk at buying bottles of Be Hoppy often (it’s $9 near me). So my questions are:

    1. How much does the use of local ingredients in a beer matter to you?

    2. Are you willing to pay more for a beer made with local ingredients over a lower-priced beer made with ingredients from afar? Say that Be Hoppy could cost $6-7 (purely hypothetical) with non-local ingredients, as opposed to $8-9 with local grains, and the beer would taste the same. Does supporting a whole supply chain that's local matter enough to you that you’re willing to pay extra for the beer? (Again, I have no idea what the change in retail cost would be using cheaper non-local ingredients - just a hypothetical example)
  2. kinopio

    kinopio Disciple (326) Apr 30, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Notch, Jacks Abby, CBC and a few others use local ingredients including malt and still keep the prices of their beer low. I love Be Hoppy but I only drink it on draft because of the high price of the bomber.
    FrankLloydMike and Horbar like this.
  3. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,076) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    Good point. I wonder if the manner in which they all source those local ingredients affects costs differently among each individual brewer.

    I didn't mention this above but I thought of Ipswich's 5 Mile series, and how that's supposed to use ingredients within 5 miles of the brewery. Those are in bombers, so not as cheap per oz as their other beers, but I don't believe they're pricey bombers. I think I paid $5-6 for the equinox pale ale.
  4. Pahn

    Pahn Meyvn (1,449) Dec 2, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    honestly, if the ingredients are what they need to make their beer taste like Be Hoppy, I'm cool with it (and supporting local *is* great to boot). if they want to sustain the buzz / popularity though, they need prices to go down somehow. hopefully scale is the way.
    BeerTerrain and FrankLloydMike like this.
  5. pjl44

    pjl44 Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2008 Massachusetts

    Use of local ingredients is nice, but it doesn't factor into my decision to purchase a beer. It all comes down to how much I like it and relative price to other options in the style.
    WeymouthMike likes this.
  6. willbm3

    willbm3 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    Could care less about local. Taste, price, and freshness are most important to me. Local is a nice bonus and I'd pay a SMALL premium for it, but nothing more

    twizzard likes this.
  7. emannths

    emannths Initiate (192) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    None. I want good beer, whether it's local or not. I think the advantage to "local" is in the ability to source small-batch or custom products. So if buying grain from Valley Malt is the only way to get something wacky like torrified oats, and that gives your beer a unique flavor, great! But local is just the enabler here, not the reason.
    pjl44 likes this.
  8. Jnorton00

    Jnorton00 Initiate (0) Apr 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    I could care less where the ingredients come from.
  9. pehodges

    pehodges Initiate (161) May 25, 2013 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I will leave the discussion of locavore beer to others, only to say Valley Malt seems to be doing well.
    I am excited about Wormtown's plans for expansion, especially after having a brief chat with brewer Ben Roesch at the tasting yesterday at Craft Beer Cellar's NE annex. I had a chance to taste a couple of interesting brews that have emerged from the Wormtown basement (literally). Ben was pouring tastes of test brews produced by bottle conditioning two of their Belgian ales (ALS Farmhouse Fundraiser and Biere de Miel) with Brettanomyces. Both were excellent, not strongly funky, complex and delightfully bubbly, and may continue to improve with longer cellaring. It's a shame I probably won't be able to taste these again, and may not be able to get to try either of the two base farmhouse ales. (BTW, neither have been reviewed here on BA).
    I must say that, although I've done a broad exploration small breweries in New England, I've largely overlooked Wormtown. My beer exploration has centered on 1) new releases in bottles at Redstone etc, 2) beerfest samples, 3) brewery taproom visits and 4) beer bars. Wormtown's market presence has missed me on all accounts. Their production to date has focused on keg production for bars and a limited selection of offerings in bombers. For example, there were three bottles to taste and buy at the tasting- Be Hoppy, Hopulence and Mass Whole Hefe. All fine beers, but I have tasted them before (at ACBF), I'm not really a hop-head (I'd prefer to see their Belgian ales in bombers), and in the competion for buying yet another bottle to add to my already-overstocked collection, I'm embarassed to say Wormtown loses out to this week's heavily-hyped, must-have, limited release, never-to-be-seen-again bottle. Without a taproom for tasting, I have haven't made the trek to Worchester to taste their drafts at Peppercorn's. Although they are focusing on getting the kegs in bars, at the type of beer bars that carry local brews they suffer intense competition from the many other local (and national) craft beers, especially for IPAs and DIPAs. I haven't been able to try anything outside their standard offering at beerfests. I won't be there, but good to see they'll entering a number of their limited brews in GABF and hope they're bringing a broad selection to the Mass Brewers this weekend. Sorry they're not at the Belgian Beer Fest (with ALS or Miel) or Night of Funk (with the basement bottles).
    So, hopefully the expansion brings more than just Be Hoppy in cans, but greater variety of bottles on the store shelves and some experimental brews pushing Wormtown into new styles.
  10. Sesmu

    Sesmu Aspirant (237) Feb 28, 2007 Massachusetts

    People dig local. I think it's especially evident in the growing popularity of locally produced hard liquors. To me personally, it matters. It's not THE determining factor for me, but it plays its role in making a purchase decision. And not just beer.
    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  11. dennho

    dennho Initiate (0) Oct 29, 2006 New York

    Interesting and important questions.
    The easy and quick reply to the different Wormtown threads is "it's too expensive." Well it's more money to buy an American made product at your locally owned store than it is to get a foreign made version of the same product at Wal-Mart. If I had spent more at my local stores maybe they would still be open.
    The use of local ingredients matters to me only that I justify the higher price of the product to myself. However I think the beer is great. Is it great because the malts are grown down the road? I can't answer that but it sure can't hurt. I guess I'll pay more 'cause I buy quite a bit of Wormtown, but again do the local ingrediants make it great?
    To know what Wormtown is doing you have to spend some time at Peppercorns and other local places. There's that local thing again. Check out how many beers they have listed on their page here. Stuff you will never see in a bottle.
    I had Be Hoppy on cask dry hopped on Calypso yesterday at Prezo's on Milford. Heaven.
    Thanks OP, interesting thread.
  12. cowbird

    cowbird Initiate (0) Jun 5, 2013 Massachusetts

    Be hoppy is my favorite local IPA, yes I have been willing to pay a little more for its local ingredients...
    Bring on the 6 packs of Be Hoppy ! 12 packs even better!
    Cant happen soon enough! Cans please!
  13. jomobono

    jomobono Disciple (349) Mar 12, 2012 Massachusetts
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Looks like Iron Horse Canning is in the house today.
    FrankLloydMike and jbertsch like this.
  14. MVP09

    MVP09 Devotee (417) Oct 19, 2012 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Saw this too! Was going this week for a growler of Be Hoppier. I thought they said it was pouring. In plan on asking about canning unless it gets revealed before in make it there.

    Canned Be Hoppy would be awesome. That together with Larry eliminates any need for out of state trading for ipa/DIPAs
  15. jomobono

    jomobono Disciple (349) Mar 12, 2012 Massachusetts
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    "Trial run. 60 cases of be hoppy 16 ozers. 4 packs avail after we label em."

    Be Hoppy cans
    Larry Cans
    Hop U and Mass Rising in 12oz bottles
    And someday Julius in cans.

    GotWad629, FrankLloydMike and MattXT like this.
  16. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,076) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    Just saw that too. (BTW I get a kick out of seeing your BA avatar pop up in FB comments). 60 cases doesn't sound like a ton though, I wonder how it'll be spread around the state

    MA's IPA/IPL landscape is really shaping up nicely.
  17. jomobono

    jomobono Disciple (349) Mar 12, 2012 Massachusetts
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Yeah hopefully after this test run they will make more if all goes well.

    I'm all over the interwebs.
  18. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,151) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    This is more about local supply chains than it is about supporting the home town brewery. Generally speaking, I am willing to shell out a buck or two more to support local brewers who try to use local ingredients (or pay decent wages, provide benefits, etc). But I understand the realities since I work in an agricultural business, pretty much. It is difficult to source everything in the back yard, so it often ends up being a blended approach. I do expect some minimum quality standards to be met, so that isn't really part of the argument.

    I guess if I idealized, I would be supporting the local brewer sourcing locally in the supply chain where they are able. But I will take local - pretty much meaning New England - first and the local ingredient sourcing becomes the whipped cream on the vanilla stout float. Hopefully small brewers are headed in that direction, helping support farmers and providing jobs on the local level. I have not tried Wormtown basically based on the price, but I will give them a try now that I understand.

    So the short version is I will pay a little more and support the concept assuming the beer is acceptable.
    BeerTerrain and FrankLloydMike like this.
  19. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,076) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    I sit in a similar spot as you and a couple others above. As long as the beer tastes great, I'm willing to part with a little extra coin for the sake of supporting a local supply chain - as long as it truly does cost the brewer more to source locally. But it also sounds like those of us who are willing to do that have relatively short leashes as to how much extra we're willing to pay. Once a price difference hits maybe $2 or more, I no longer consider 2 beers (one local, one not) of the same style to be equals. Normally, if I'm deciding between those 2 beers and both are the same quality and price, I generally give the edge to the local version. On top of that, if I know that local brewer sources ingredients locally, it may make the decision a little easier (given I remember that fact) and maybe I'm a touch more lenient on a price difference. Ultimately though, taste/quality still reigns as the #1 factor to me.
    LeRose likes this.
  20. jomobono

    jomobono Disciple (349) Mar 12, 2012 Massachusetts
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    "Price will be $12/4pak. We are waiting for labels & when they come in will sell at brewery only. Hopefully by Friday. We'll announce via FB & @twitter"
    Patrick likes this.
  21. rowingbrewer

    rowingbrewer Champion (849) May 28, 2010 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    The thought of be hoppy in six packs hopefully at $12 gives me a half a chub. I wouldn't mind paying a little more for local, but if they switched sources and and it tastes the same I'm fine with that as well.
    twizzard likes this.
  22. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (957) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    4 pack tho...quarter chub? I'm guessing it will be $15 if it makes it to Boston. Might even be broken into singles. No fucks given
    jomobono likes this.
  23. MVP09

    MVP09 Devotee (417) Oct 19, 2012 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    By Friday, wow! 1 day to get labels on and have them ready for sale. I work about 10 min from Pepercorns/Wormtown. It would be great to have 4 pack for this weekend
  24. Horbar

    Horbar Zealot (560) Feb 24, 2012 Rhode Island

    This is gonna be great!! Pint cans of Be Hoppy. ......ahhhhhhh!! I'm drooling.
  25. DaKur

    DaKur Initiate (0) Nov 15, 2012 Rhode Island

    Sweet!!! The local ingredients probably sets it apart from the rest. I would rather see Hopulous in a sixer though. That's my fav!!!
    BeerTerrain likes this.
  26. jomobono

    jomobono Disciple (349) Mar 12, 2012 Massachusetts
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Anyone try Be Hoppier yet?
  27. Patrick

    Patrick Initiate (0) Aug 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    Are bottles out yet?
  28. jomobono

    jomobono Disciple (349) Mar 12, 2012 Massachusetts
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Haven't seen it but I know the place near me has it on deck for draft.
  29. emannths

    emannths Initiate (192) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Not necessarily. MA brewers are frequently the most expensive places to buy packaged beer.
  30. Nickfellow007

    Nickfellow007 Aspirant (297) Feb 22, 2011 Rhode Island
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, had a couple growlers of it and did a side-by-side review with a fresh Be Hoppy bomber. It's totally different than Be Hoppy. Not in a bad way, just way more earthy and pungent...total hop assault...not as juicy, citrusy and floral as Be Hoppy. Still both delicious beers.
    jomobono likes this.
  31. Nickfellow007

    Nickfellow007 Aspirant (297) Feb 22, 2011 Rhode Island
    Beer Trader

    No bottles. Growlers were released a couple of weeks ago. Call Peppercorns and see if they still have it on tap or growlers. Doubtful but you never know.
  32. Patrick

    Patrick Initiate (0) Aug 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    I'll have to find it on tap in Boston somewhere then.
  33. cowbird

    cowbird Initiate (0) Jun 5, 2013 Massachusetts

    Be Hoppier?...Prezo Milford MA had it on tap this past weekend
  34. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,076) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    DOH!!! :angry:
    My wife and I were debating between going to Prezzo and some other place else last Saturday. Chose the other place. Had I known Be Hoppier was on...
  35. rudzud

    rudzud Poo-Bah (4,513) Apr 28, 2010 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Be Hoppy is actually being canned now, releasing Friday at Peppercorns for a trial run. $12 for a 4 pack of 16oz cans.
    DaKur and Pahn like this.
  36. Pahn

    Pahn Meyvn (1,449) Dec 2, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    lol @ be hoppy "trial run" in cans. i can tell you the result of the trial: successful.
    DaKur and jbertsch like this.
  37. willbm3

    willbm3 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    Haha seriously, what did they expect? About triple the amount of super fresh beer in convenient packaging for less than double the price?

    Actually, at $12 it seems a little overpriced...still infinitely better than bombers though
  38. Pahn

    Pahn Meyvn (1,449) Dec 2, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    good price; 16oz cans. gandhi bot is usually $12~13 now for 4pk of 12oz cans, and i don't fully mind (it *is* that much better than, say, larry, or sea hag, or other IPAs in CT).

    i'm really impressed with larry, but i'd pay a premium for be hoppy. JA may be a heavy competitor, but i bet the market can handle both of them (easily).
  39. willbm3

    willbm3 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    True, I'll happily buy it for $12, and it is certainly a notch above Larry...definitely one of, if not the best IPA in MA. The problem is if it's $12 in Worcester it'll be $14+ in Boston
  40. twizzard

    twizzard Defender (698) May 11, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

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