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    Wednesday, 8 April 2009

    If I Owned A Brewery Part 3 - The Seasonal Beers

    I've been picked up, possibly fairly, for the boring naming policy of my imaginary beers. They won't taste boring though.

    As well as the permanent beers I will have seasonal beers. These seasonals though will be representative of the season or a celebration of an annual occurrence. They won't just be any old new recipe with a name to match the time of year. The same seasonals will be brewed year in year out, and drinkers will look forward to each year's output.

    It's far rarer in UK than in USA for regular and relevant seasonals to be produced, and it actually tends to be the older, perhaps more traditional brewers who do it. Harveys do it probably better than others although Shepherd Neame seasonals are anticipated highly in Kent although perhaps not so much further afield. I also look forward to finding Youngs Winter Warmer each year.

    As is my want the beers will all be named so as to inform the punter what to expect, so the following beers will form part of my portfolio:

    Light Mild for March (the alternative mild month)
    Chocolate Stout brewed with massive amounts of Chocolate Malt for Easter
    Strong Mild brewed for May (the current mild month)
    Summer Lager a real and authentic lager, brewed throughout the Summer
    Green Hop using the first pickings.
    Bonfire Smoke a smoked style beer for the period around November 5th.
    Winter Warmer a true strong warmer for those sipping nights around the fire.
    Christmas Ale strong and spicy.

    That's probably enough to cover the whole year. There's no need to brew beers for Valentine's Day or Halloween or St Georges Day or any other nonsense just to get another beer under your belt. These will be proper quality meaningful seasonals.

    Having said that though there will be other beers brewed as and when the time is right. More on that next time.


    Gazza Prescott said...

    The trap I see you're falling into is that of many new micros - no unique selling point such as Brewdog or Thornbridge etc have.

    What is there to distinguish your beers from the hundreds of other micros trying to sell their beer? Why should a landlord stock yours? If you're not doing a lot of seasonals then you'd better either be cheap (difficult using quality ingredients) or stick to direct supply around your parish.

    Just my twopenneth.

    Jonathan said...

    Loving this little series. I think a straightforward brewery has a better shot in the UK than the USA. Craft consumers here expect something beyond someone's last name on the label. Of course, just my personal opinion. But I think the UK has perhaps a stronger heritage to lean on than we do.

    Regarding the straightforward names, I actually think it's great. Be boring in your names. People want to know what they're ordering. And your tap handles will be easy to read/understand, a plus for new consumers.

    maeib said...

    Gazza - Stick around, the exciting stuff which will show how I really feel about beer is yet to come.

    Jonathon - thanks for your comment. It's all a bit of fun. If only I had the means to follow these little dreams.

    Ron Pattinson said...

    You should make Bonfire Smoke a smoked Mild. Three seasonal Milds would be dead cool.

    AJ said...

    As someone who is in the process of starting a new brewery, it's an interesting post. I'm trying to navigate a path which tries to be contemporary but maintains an appreciation of tradition and history...and it won't be easy getting the balance right without falling into no-man's land.

    I'm going down the route of a less traditional name, something inspired a little more by North American craft brewing. I do plan to be descriptive in the names of the beer so you know what your getting but that won't prevent me from being a little adventurous with recipe formulation.

    I definetly plan to do 4 regular seasonals which are not gimmicks but actually related to the seasons and will only be available for 3 months.

    But the immediate priority will be to focus on getting one core beer perfect. Easier said than done!

    Bailey said...

    This is a great idea for a series of posts. Makes me want to paraphrase Tandleman's line (which has entered my book of beery wisdom): yes, you've got to make money with your standing line up of beers, but for God's sake make the specials special. Too many breweries turn out seasonal specials which are brown bitters not unlike the ones they sell all year round.

    I'd be delighted if there was a pub near my house that had this line up throughout the year -- especially the summer lager.

    What about a cheeky wheat beer, too?

    Tandleman said...

    I think my stout would be a classic bitter stout of around 4.8%. It would have great body, a creamy head and a smacking hop finish. I'll need to have a further think on the hopping regime, but it won't have a load of chocolate malt.

    Bailey - wisdom? Me? What was it then?

    Bailey said...

    Tandleman -- at some point (don't remember when, or where) you were complaining about a brewery whose 'specials' were all brown bitters at around 3.8%. At least I think it was you.

    Anonymous said...

    Would you be looking for some marketing input Maeib? "If I owned a Brewery Part 4 - Marketing", I would be happy to help! It is Part 5-10 which are the real bitches. Doing the finances, dealing with all the red tape, trying to make enough money to pay your staff but not making the product price prohibitive, dealing with customers who don’t pay, trying to source hops in a hop shortage. I wish part 1-4 was all there was to it!

    Anyway regarding naming and some of the other comments. I think it is important to stand for something, and that something has to be unique and individual and have value. Otherwise you just get lost. If you do the same as everyone else you pretty much know what your best case scenario results are going look like. Before you start, any notion of success has defined parameters. For me it is exciting to do something radically different, take a few risks. Because if you can create your own niche you can grow your own market. For me this is far more interesting than stealing a share of someone else's.

    James, BrewDog

    Barm said...

    Gazza, in my view if the funny name of your beer is all it has to recommend it over the competition, you're screwed already. And a landlord who chooses beers on the basis of a funny name isn't doing his job properly.

    I think everyone recognises that BrewDog's marketing is brilliant. Just compare it with the likes of another Scottish brewery, Harviestoun, whose beer is fantastic, but doesn't get anything like the amount of publicity that BrewDog do.

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that in my opinion BrewDog's success is not down to calling beers things like Riptide and Trashy Blonde. It's because the beer is damn good. Sure, the name is memorable, but the beer has to be memorable first and foremost. I can hardly remember any of the fantastically-named, but average-tasting beers I've supped at my local real ale dealer's. But I can remember years ago being impressed by my first pint of Oakham JHB -- a boring name if ever there was one.

    Anonymous said...

    as long as your beers don't have 3 letters IPA, JHB, ESB, TCP, JJJ, KKK all far too confusing...