Making Seasonal Releases Work For Your Brewery

The flurry of announcements heralding the arrival of winter releases has been rolling in, with Seattle-based Pike Brewing Company among the latest to begin promoting their new seasonal offerings.

Pike head brewer Leslie Shore told Brewer Magazine that limited release beers afford them the opportunity to stretch their creative muscles while exploring new products and playing with new techniques. Seasonals help them more broadly reengage with the community — people may have tried their regular offerings and are looking for the “next new thing,” she said.

“Going through these motions with our one-barrel pilot system gives us a great approximation of what we should expect, as well as the ability to tweak any aspect before committing to a full-scale batch,” Shore added. “On the consumer side, it acts as a consistent engagement product against the backdrop of our core lineup with a shortened time frame and limited amount.”

The winter releases for Pike are their Long Dark Barrel-Aged Stout (13.3% ABV) and their Short Days Double Hazy IPA (8.2% ABV).

Shore said the dichotomy was effective. 

“Not everyone wants a heavy beer in the middle of winter, especially here in Seattle, when it’s typical for some to flee to a sunny spot for a quick getaway,” Shore explained. “Looking forward to the eventual return of the sun and nicer weather is aspirational, specifically when the available daylight is swinging away from eight hours with overcast skies and 3 p.m. sunsets. “Because both of these beers are produced in small quantities, it is less about one selling better than the other and more about speaking to different audiences. If all goes well, they will both sell out!”

Taproom guests play a role in the seasonal release strategy.

“At our Ballard Taproom, we have a pilot tap for folks to try some of the more outré offerings, [and] we also provide a QR code on the tabletalkers, which allows guests to access a simple yet defined sensory evaluation,” Shore said. “From there, we’re able to aggregate the data against our internal sensory on that product, and take it from there — either full-scale for a seasonal or a one-off with wide distro, or scrap altogether. 

“Our seasonal releases are planned over a year out, which also allows the opportunity to brew another pilot batch to nail the sensory and style expectation.” 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.