Friday, January 18, 2013

Brewers, give me mix packs!

Craft brewers, all I ask from you is that you release mix packs of your beers. Is that so much to ask?

When I see a mix pack by a brewery I haven't had before, it grabs my attention. A chance to have two or three or four beers I haven't had before by a brewery that may be new to me? Yes, please. I am a sucker for a great mix pack. I crave variety and welcome the chance to get to know a new brewery three or four beers at a time -- which, let's be honest, is the only way to judge a new-to-you brewery. Just one beer won't do it. You need a full sampling. Short of going to their brew pub or buying a mixed case (which few people will do first time out), a mix pack is the best way to provide exactly that.

So why don't more breweries release mix packs?

Samuel Adams releases four mix packs a year, every year, and has done so for ages

Economics, I'm sure. It can't be cheap to sort all those beers, create new packaging, new SKUs, and so on.

Still, over the years, brewers who have done mix packs have built loyalty in me. I feel like they are a great idea. A brewery like Saranac no longer gets big accolades by craft beer geeks these days, but there is a reason to love them. Like Samuel Adams, their variety is huge and their quality is consistent. They may not be top shelf, but you'll always get a drinkable beer with taste from them. I'm not a regular Saranac buyer, but I'm good for a mix-pack every year because you can get such a wide variety in a single affordable 12-pack.

When my friend, coauthor (A Year of Hitchcock), podcast co-host (the podcast by the same name), and fellow beer enthusiast Jim McDevitt went on a cross-country trip, one of the highlights (for me!) was the mix pack of New Glarus he brought back for me. I had had a few New Glarus brews before, but the mix pack sealed the deal. Getting that assortment made me fall in love with them.

I'd wager this is not uncommon among craft beer fans. Sure, sure, these days many chase the biggest and rarest -- hell, I do it myself -- but many of us still like variety for the sheer sake of it and enjoy tasting three or four or five beers from a brewery at a time.

So give us some mix packs, please!

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