Thursday, October 23, 2014

When Smaller is Better

I'm back (I'm back!- Slim Shady!) I'm back. 

Another Upland sour lottery has come and gone, and as usual the normal complaining follows in its wake (this last round coincided with the 2015 Secret Barrel Society membership announcement- talk about a sourstorm of epic proportions). The lottery system is flawed; lots of locals don't win (and they should get preference), and lots of non-locals win and never see their beers. Don't like the lottery? Then join the Secret Barrel Society, Upland says. (No matter all the fancy math and club perks you throw at me the SBS is not a good deal.)... or wait for the bottle clean-up. Bitching aside Upland's sours are in high demand whether they're getting traded, consumed locally, or being used as a cleaning solution. 

I don't bother with the Upland sours anymore for 2 reasons: Price and drinkability (looking at you lambics). $25-30 is an expensive beer to take on alone, especially when it's going to rot your teeth and stomach lining. Take it to a share you say? Sure and I'm privileged to be apart of an awesome share group, but we have stretches where we don't meet and occasionally it's nice to drink something special on your own (stop waiting for that special moment). Also, not everyone has "those people" they share beer with. I started to wonder what would get me to enter the Upland lotteries again, and not surprisingly it's a lower price and higher drinkability. I don't expect either of those things to happen, so the next best thing I could come up with is format size. 

Upland put your sours in smaller bottles. The 375ml or 500ml format is calling your name Upland... and for that matter anyone doing big alcoholic beers in large formats. 

This solves a lot of issues in my opinion; price drops and there's less beer to deal with in a serving. In theory, breweries are going to brew the same amount of beer regardless of package format, so that means more bottles (or cans) to go around... Maybe twice as much. More lottery winners, more bottles at clean-up. Price per oz would likely go up a bit, because of the increased material and labor costs, but I doubt enough to cause people to even blink. 

Several breweries have done just fine offering special beers in smaller formats: Sun King, Russian River, Crooked Stave, Prairie, and countless Belgian breweries to name a few. Prairie and Jolly Pumpkin have recently gone from large format bottles to more palatable 375ml and 500ml bottles, and Upland, yes Upland, has put Teddy Bear Kisses in 12oz 4-packs. So Upland has already made the switch a bit, why not keep following that trend?

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