So for the past two weeks we've talked all things size-related. With the amount of market and industry research we've been doing over the past few months, I feel like I'm back at Florida State doing graduate study work. Only this time, I might be slightly more passionate about the topic content. :P
Which leads me to a conversation we had during a recent visit to Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, GA - only the most awesome cheese/wine/beer business in the southeast US...maybe even the world. Thomasville is a quaint and eclectic little town that's only about 30 minutes away from Tallahassee. Aside from great cheese products, the Sweet Grass crew loves wine and craft beer. They hold several beer events throughout the year and most recently, they had a "Fun with Firkins" night where they tapped a Bell's Brewery Hopslam cask! Which begs the question: How the hell did they get a Hopslam cask? If you knew them, you wouldn't be that surprised. In the past few months, they've held events highlighting breweries like Bell's Brewery, Stone & more.
Anyways, back to the conversation we had. Essentially, Mat, Josh & Morgan - the guys that head up the operation in downtown Thomasville - invited GrassLands to come out & give an overview on the craft beer scene, beer tasting 101, communicating different styles of beer to new & existing customers, etc. along with some general Q&A. We also chatted a little about GrassLands' and Sweet Grass Dairy's futures over a couple recently brewed batches of LeeRoy the Red Imperial Amber. Basically just an awesome evening. We're really excited about our growing business friendship.
Mat then posed the question:
What beer are you guys going to brew the most?
What a great question. It's also a loaded question where the answer can potentially make or break a brewery. Mat was really asking What's going to be GrassLands' flagship? To put it plainly, a flagship beer is what a brewery brews the most...primarily because the market demands for that beer are the highest and the potential for growth depends is the greatest with that specific beer. Think about some of the really popular craft beers that are out there - stuff you see on the taps all the time - stuff you see on supermarket shelves. Immediately, I think of Dogfish Head's 60-minute IPA, Magic Hat's #9, Sam Adams' Boston Lager, Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale, New Belgium's Fat Tire, etc., etc., etc. A flagship may not necessarily be the best tasting beer a brewery makes, but it most likely is its top-seller and can sometimes represent the brewery itself - check out New Belgium's logo the next time you get a chance and you'll see what I'm talking about.
A bunch goes into determining what could/should be your flagship. Maybe it's something that you personally just like brewing the most. Maybe there's some nostalgia behind the recipe...who knows? It can make or break a brewery because the decision to label one or even two beers as "flagships" has to be made based on the right information. What are the most popular styles out there today? What does the local/external market want? What is your capacity to produce one particular style more than others? We visited the brand-new Hourglass Brewery in Longwood, FL not too long ago and they started out not necessarily wanting to do a flagship ale. However, in just a few months, they were nearly forced to by increasing market demands for a specific recipe they initially brewed. Good problem to have, eh?
There's also a lot of misinformation that goes into the decision-making process; like the saying: A brewery would have to be insane to make its flagship an IPA. Umm...Cigar City Brewery and its flagship Jai Alai IPA might have a thing or two to say about that. Last I heard, around 60% of their sales can be attributed toward Jai Alai. Their expansion(s) have been directly tied to the success of Jai Alai. What that says to me is this: perhaps it doesn't matter what you identify as your flagship...if you've got a good product that also happens to be one of the most popular styles in the country - then boom goes the dynamite.
One of the primary reasons we're happy and confident enough to make an official announcement today as to what our flagship will be is because of the efforts of our awesome GrassHoppers Review Club. The feedback we get from these great people has helped us shape and perfect one of our favorite recipes...so now we get to introducing GrassLands' primary Flagship:
Tally-Ho! Amber Ale
Tally-Ho! is an offshoot of one of the very first recipes we brewed. A constant work in progress, it's highlighted by just about everything we like in beer: a ton of citrus hop flavor/aroma, caramel-sweet malt, a touch of bitterness and a slight rye spice to wrap everything up. There's a running joke in my brew club that just about every beer I have has either a caramel-sweetness or rye in it. What can I say? We love rye and we love caramel :) Tally-Ho! is a very drinkable American Amber at 6% ABV and is a beer we love to drink and love to brew. So far, the feedback from the GrassHoppers has been incredible. We're totally stoked to make Tally-Ho! our primary flagship ale!
Tons of stuff is going to be happening over the course of the next few months...so stay in the know! Hop on our Fermentation Fridays email newsletter list to stay updated on our progress toward launching!
So with that said, we'll let you get to it. Have an absolutely awesome weekend, my dear readers, because you most certainly deserve it.