"We've always been a little fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants," says Dave Thibodeau, co-founder of Durango's Ska Brewing. "So, Modus was different. It was the most we had ever worked on a beer recipe and a style... It was the exact beer that we wanted to brew and it just blew up right out of the gates when we released it."
Modus Hoperandi, an IPA packaged in distinctive green and black cans, was so popular, in fact, that it quickly became the eighteen-year-old brewery's flagship and helped propel the company from a 15,000-barrel-per year microbrewery in 2010 into a regional player that will produce more than 30,000 barrels by the end of 2013.
Ska began by packaging Modus in both bottles and cans - as it does with some of its other brews -- but Modus's success meant the brewery had to make a choice.
"The bottles were doing great, but the cans took over," Thibodeau says. "Within the first three months, we knew we weren't going to be able to keep up with both, so we ran through the packaging for the bottles -- and that was that."
But last week, Ska revealed that it is once again putting Modus in bottles (as well as cans), although just in Colorado for the foreseeable future.
It's a decision that seems a little strange at first when you consider that Ska's identity is closely tied to cans: The company was the second craft brewery, after Oskar Blues, to begin canning beers in Colorado, rolling out its first, ESB, in 2003.
But Thibodeau says the decision makes sense. "When we stopped bottling, we got a lot of grief from the bottle purists who won't touch anything in a can, and we certainly lost some people in Durango" he explains. "We did it anyway, but we didn't put bottling out of our minds forever... Now, I'm excited to taste Modus again in a bottle."
The decision was based on a couple of factors. Ska has added a huge amount of capacity over the last few years, meaning it can brew beer and keep up with demand.
But the brewery is also planning to add a huge new canning line, which will drastically increase its efficiency and turn-around time early next year.
And, finally, Ska is discontinuing one of its original brews, Ten Pin Porter, which will also free up tank space. "It doesn't sell that fast, plus our tastes have changed a lot over the years, but the beer hasn't," Thibodeau says. "We have different ideas about what a porter should taste like now. We might bring it back in a revamped format."
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