Henry Weinhard Rebranding?

John Foyston has posted a press release from Henry Weinhard's announcing a new release: India Pale Ale.

Henry Weinhard's IPA is a blend of Challenger, Simcoe, Chinook and Summit hops. It contains 6.0 percent alcohol by volume. The new brew will be available in Idaho, Oregon and Washington where Henry Weinhard's products are sold for a limited time only! Suggested retail price is $5.99 for a six-pack.

"Pacific Northwesterners are notorious lovers of IPAs and we're delighted to offer them a beer we know they'll appreciate," said Jennifer Gerrie, brand manager for Henry Weinhard's. "This IPA is a premium craft beer we feel the biggest of hop heads will enjoy."

Never mind that in some places on their website the beer is referred to as Indian Pale Ale--this is rather extraordinary. When they released the Organic Amber last year, I was impressed by the serious attempt they made at producing a craft-level beer. It was an attempt to mine the micro market's most lucrative vein--blander, less aggressive beers dominated by Widmer and Fat Tire. But releasing an IPA raises the ante, doesn't it? It's a small IPA, at 6% and 45 IBUs, yet that's light years more agressive than anything I've seen coming from the corporate halls of MillerCoors.

And how about the language at the top of the press release, wherein the marketing department describes the company:
Henry Weinhard's, the pioneering producer of small-batch handcrafted beer in the Pacific Northwest, is adding a new summer seasonal to its lineup of craft beers this month.
The phrase may be 150 years out of date, but I guess you could say it's true. Of course, it says more about the company's plan for the future than its past--they hope to replace the memory of tin-canned Blitz with an impression of a member in good standing of Beervana's small, indie breweries.At this point, it's difficult to argue that Henry's is anything but a faux craft--one label among many a beer conglomerate hopes to position in the market. Fair enough. But you have to admire Miller's moxie--it is an appealing approach.