So where does Tenth and Blake go from here? More specifically, when does Tenth and Blake unleash Brewers Unleashed?
White and Zimmer are both aware of the craft aesthetic and the need to continue to grow the movement organically.
“Right now, we’re developing a culture internally around the great beer that our breweries are making. Brewer-led innovation— what every craft brewer does. We don’t advertise Brewers Unleashed internally either. It has spread just through word of mouth.”
Next year, Tenth and Blake will introduce Brewers Unleashed to “the public” so to speak. The company will start with a handful of bars in Chicago and Denver. The goal is for participating bars to find a beer (or a few) that they really like and want to keep on tap.
“We will leave the process up to local sales reps. They’ll get experimental stuff from each brewery and go from there.”
For Tenth and Blake, the introduction will give the company an opportunity to showcase a different kind of innovation from MillerCoors. Though the craft drinker’s punchline with big brewers has been that innovation only comes in the form of new packaging and marketing strategies, Tenth and Blake will actually roll out a slew of new beers next year.
Blue Moon Brewing will test a potential new year-round offering in Farmhouse Red and will launch several new limited and seasonal beers.
Leinie’s Fireside Nut Brown will “hibernate” for 2012. Leinie’s Big Eddy Wee Heavy Scotch Ale has already received label approval and Big Eddy Imperial IPA will return for the first time since its launch in 2007. A Baltic Porter will also debut.
The brewers at Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing play with barrels, too. The company recently produced a small number of bottles of Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Imperial Stout and Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout that it doled out only to employees and industry friends. In 2012, White hopes that the brewery will put one of the Big Eddy beers (more likely the Wee Heavy than the Imperial Stout) in barrels for a very limited run of bottles that would be released to the public.
Killian’s will roll out an Irish Stout on draft to select markets in 2012 before wide release in 2013.
The company will also import a SABMiller brand called St. Stefanos for the first time.
As for Brewers Unleashed, these beers may not be part of the program but White would like to think the program is having an indirect effect.
“We haven’t made a penny on it but it has been an amazing success. It isn’t meant to ever become huge but there is a lot of benefit to us in driving passion and innovation outwardly through the company.”