A Most Curious Mix Pack
Full Disclosure: Craft Brewers Alliance is currently paying me to write a biography of Kurt and Rob Widmer.
A couple of weeks ago, I received an unusual package from Widmer Brothers. It contained six beers (not unusual), including one from Widmer (also not unusual) and five from other breweries (highly unusual). On the inner flap was written:
I don't actually have any theories here. Widmer Brothers did win the pilsner category a couple years back at the Oregon Beer Awards, so a bit of horn-tooting may be safely intuited. And they're also right that pilsners (no capital P, please) are this secret little triumph in Oregon, one the IPA fans may have failed to notice. In addition to the five other breweries included (Breakside, Buoy, Ecliptic, Occidental, and pFriem), I might have added Block 15, The Commons, Crux, Heater Allen, Upright, and Zoiglhaus for a full 12-pack. (Your mileage may vary but narrowing down to six from that twelve ain't no easy business).
Perhaps the notion was to underscore how much Widmer has been a supportive member of the Oregon brewing scene for decades. They have been happy to share expertise, run labs for breweries in town, and support homebrewers. But of course all the people who received these packs probably already knew that; it's the public who don't. My sense is Widmer has also begun to retool and focus squarely on the Pacific Northwest, which I guess this does, after a fashion. But again, this package is not publicly available, so....
I'm always fascinated to see the marketing strategies of breweries, and usually the intention is at least obvious. Receiving this package was a pleasure for me, but I remain mystified about why they assembled it and sent it out. A flattening market and difficult supermarket terrain have sparked interesting new tactics in selling beer, so I'm not surprised to see novel approaches. And yet.
Who can explain this to me?
Update. Danny Pettey, who sent out the package, saw this post and got back to me. Here's our answer:
All of the beers you mentioned were certainly in early talks (plus a few others). We ended up going with the beers from brewers with whom Tom Bleigh had a relationship and beers we all enjoyed. He reached out to them all to see if they were interested. We were 6/6 on that effort. We were limited to six simply because of logistics and, quite honestly, costs. We only sent out a small quantity of mailers, by the way.
Also, we were connecting the whole thing to the OBF Pilsner Brunch we have planned, and we will be pouring all 5 beers during that event (+ PDX Pils, obviously).