Craft beer trends have evolved quickly over the past five years, and just because a brewery has been around for a while doesn't mean that its beers will keep selling forever. To keep up, and to stay relevant, some older breweries have cut poorly performing products from their lineups and added new ones that reflect changing tastes.
The latest brewery to update its look and its lineup is Boulder's Twisted Pine, which introduced a new beer, Hop Zealot, last week amid a flurry of other changes.
Hop Zealot, weighing in at 6.7 percent ABV and 70 IBUs, will become the brewery's year-round IPA, replacing Hoppy Boy -- Twisted Pine's biggest seller -- which has been labeled as an IPA since the late 1990s, but will now be moved into the pale ale category. Hoppy Boy carries an ABV of 5.7 percent and 50 IBUs.
"We have so many people who drink Hoppy Boy religiously, but we think it's a better fit as a pale ale than an IPA," says Twisted Pine spokesman Justin Tilotta, who reiterated some of the thoughts he wrote down in a statement about the changes. "While Hoppy Boy might have been a perfect example of the American IPA style fifteen years ago, palates and style expectations have evolved to where fans expect beers of that category to have a less prominent malt backbone and lean towards bitterness a bit more. Plus, it opened the door for us to create a true treat for the hopheads out there in Hop Zealot."
The brewery is also cutting three of its beers from the lineup altogether. Longtime staples American Amber, Honey Brown and Blonde Ale will no longer be packaged.
Although it as a tough decision to stop producing beers "you've been making for almost twenty years...they were easier to cut when you looked at the numbers. They weren't performing that well," Tilotta says. "Breweries that have been around for a long time are trying to get away from that set list that everyone expects: an amber, a brown, a blonde."
And finally, Twisted Pine will roll out completely redesigned labels, beginning with Hop Zealot, followed by Billy's Chilies. "All of our packaging was designed in different eras," says Tilotta, "so it was difficult for consumers to tell that some of them came from the same brewery" -- or that they came from Twisted Pine at all, in some cases. The new visual theme incorporates the Flatirons and Twisted Pine's newly designed red, white and blue logo. "We want to put our flag down and market these beers as coming from our back yard," he notes.
The changes were precipitated by an adjustment at the top. Bob Baile, who bought Twisted Pine in 1996 (a year after it was founded), decided late last year to bring in longtime colleague Jean Lund, the former president of Boulder's CordenPharma, as CEO. Baile and Lund first met in 1978 when they were both research chemists.
Although Lund doesn't have any brewery experience, she is an experienced manager who can help the company make better financial and organizational decisions, Tilotta says: "She showed us, for instance, why it didn't make sense to keep making Honey Brown." She was also instrumental in helping Twisted Pine move forward with its other changes.
Hop Zealot will be sold in four-packs of twelve-ounce bottles. It will be sold year-round, along with Hoppy Boy, Billy's Chilies, Raspberry Wheat and La Petite Saison, which was previously a seasonal beer sold in bomber bottles, but is now in twelve-ouncers.
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