(Ipswich, MA) – Notch Brewing founder, Chris Lohring, joined Monday’s hour-long episode of the Seacoast Beverage Lab podcast, to discuss a bunch of hot topics in craft beer: pricing, the value (or lackthereof) of bombers, the definition of session beers, listing ABV on labels, and seasonal creep (the release of seasonal beers ahead of the season with which they’re associated).
Notch Brewing is based in Massachusetts where Lohring brews out of Mercury Brewing’s facility in Ipswich. The company brews only beers at or below 4.5% ABV according to Beer Advocate. Lohring says that Notch will produce about 1,500 barrels this year.
Some noteworthy quotes from the podcast…
On the impact of ingredients in beer cost:
“The ingredient cost on the pint that you consume is incredibly small [when compared to costs in other parts of the supply chain]. If I brewed a 3.5% bitter and there was a 6.5% IPA, the ingredient cost is going to be about a quarter-per-pint difference by the time it gets to the consumer and that’s just not going to be passed onto the consumer. The comeback to that from a lot of consumers is ‘how come high gravity beers are so much more expensive?’ and they’re expensive because the consumer pays that much for them. They are low yield beers because brewers do have a tough time with that amount of malt but there is a demand for these beers that the brewer can justify the price for these beers.”
On bomber value and challenging prices:
“Bombers are a really bad value for the consumer but the trade off is that there is the ability to select only one bottle and enjoy that and have three to four beers available to you. It’s great for having a lot of different beers and that is really want the craft consumer loves right now, to be able to try ‘new new new’ and 22’s allow you to do that. But 22’s remain a really lousy value. If you do the math on a $6 bomber and how it equates to a six-pack, you would never buy a six-pack for $18 unless it’s one of the top ten that you really enjoy or can’t get. For my bombers, I try to keep that price as low as possible but if I drop that price even lower, people will think that is a bad beer so I at least need to keep it in the ballpark.”
On seasonal creep:
For context on what happened to Notch in the fall of last year, check out Lohring’s post on the death of seasonal beers.
“It’s the fault of the brewers that push the season ahead, especially Samuel Adams which wants to go a whole season ahead and release a spring beer at the end of December. It hurts everyone else because retailers set their shelves and dictate their seasonal program based on the industry leader which is Sam Adams. If everyone else has to follow suit, it makes it really hard for really traditional seasonal beers to come out when intended because we have someone else who is the 800-pound gorilla pushing seasonal beers ahead just so that they can make a little bit of extra money by the end of the year for their stockholders. I’m sorry but that’s the reality.”