Finding Styles That Appeal to a Wide Consumer Base

Introducing craft beer to a wide consumer base is still constant for many breweries. Having a welcome mat helps.

Familiar styles, such as Pilsners, crisp and clean Lagers, Cream and Golden Ales have made a resurgence for some craft breweries to continue to bridge the gap between macro-made beer and a craft brewery’s product, while still finding a creative twist and story.

“People’s taste preferences are constantly changing, but there is something nostalgic about the lighter, more classic styles that give people comfort,” said Good People Brewing‘s Lauren McCurdy, the brewery’s Marketing Director.

For Lonerider Brewing CEO Sumit Vohra, a return to basic styles to attract a mass consumer base was inevitable.

“What product for what demographic at what time,” he said. “Millennials that grew up with choice as a basic ingredient may respond differently than folks for whom Bud Light was a staple. … We don’t eat extra spicy food all the time do we? Not saying you can’t but extreme is not the norm.”

For Justin Beardsley of Eight Bridges Brewing, brewing classic styles shows that flavor can be displayed and modified.

“Although Coors Banquet was taken from a Pilsner style originally, what it has become is very far from what a traditional Pilsner is,” he noted. “We make our Pils year round and it continues to be a great seller.”

Having these styles available not only provides a gateway for non-craft beer drinkers but forces a brewery to perfect their technique with their “naked beers”, said Hathaway Dilba, a Partner and Director of Promotions at Ale Asylum. “We often give adventurous non-craft drinkers our “Madtown Nutbrown” Brown Ale to try because it’s silky mouthfeel and smooth finish lures them over to the craft side.”

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Good People, located in Birmingham, Alabama just started to venture into the Lager realm.

“We have seen that our taproom customers are willing to try different lager styles — Marzen and Schwarzbier as our two examples — without any hesitation,” McCurdy said. “There is an understanding and trust of that type of beer that people enjoy. We tend to use these styles as gateway beers to more traditional “craft” styles, such as IPA and Pale Ale.”

Having those styles on tap definitely works, added Aaron Pozit, the Director of Hospitality for Captain Lawrence Brewing. It can ease open the door to a new consumer base.

“Having a Pilsner or Lager helps the non-craft beer drinker enter in with a little more comfort and are more willing to try other flavors and styles afterward,” he said. “We have our Kolsch which we have had since the beginning and that has always been the ‘go-to’ beer when someone says they normally drink Budweiser or the like.

“Now we have the “6th Borough” Pilsner which is a great entrance way beer but also has a little extra hop to it which gives new customers a chance to enjoy hops without getting slapped in the face with it like a standard IPA.”

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