There's been a lot of talk and fervor in the local beer world the last few weeks about the Stone Brewing Company "Enjoy by" IPA campaign. If you are unfamiliar with this product it is a Double IPA brewed by a very well respected California brewery that is meant to be drank within a month of the time it was produced. A lot of effort (and expense) was put into making this beer, packaging it quickly, and getting it to market at an incredible speed so that it could be drank at the peak of freshness (I was told that it was trucked here by teams of drivers so that the truck itself wouldn't have to stop in order to save time). There was even a Twitter tie-in for people to request who got to tap it first. The result. The beer is all but gone within a week of hitting the market (and well before the "Enjoy by" date). People are still asking for it, but almost everyone is out of stock. As far as beer launches go I think everyone would agree it was a success.
But the whole thing has got me thinking. While I understand (and totally agree with) what Stone is attempting to do by bringing the subject of freshness to the forefront with this concept I still find myself a little perplexed by the response. People went absolute bat-shit crazy for this beer this past week. You would have thought that the only beer anyone every drank in this town was a year past its date code and stored next to the furnace all the time. Meanwhile, quietly, without any fanfare (and a much smaller marketing budget) I released a new seasonal IPA about a week ago as well. I didn't have to drive it cross-country day and night to insure its freshness. I didn't run a twitter campaign to see who gets the "opportunity" to drink it at it's freshest. I just sold it to a few places and they put it on tap. It's fresh. Why? Because I just made it and it hasn't traveled farther than 5 miles since then. I didn't do anything special to insure that this batch was delivered any fresher than any of my other products because it is a part of my everyday mantra to make sure the beer is as fresh as possible. This is the very definition of what local brewers do. We make fresh local products that don't have to be trucked across the country. I'm guessing that new batches of Mt. Carmel IPA and Rivertown Hop Baron hit the market last week as well. Granted Stone is a brewery with a bigger reputation than any of us local guys, but our beers are every bit as fresh if not fresher in this market and that's what we do EVERY DAY, not just every once in a while as a special marketing campaign.
Once again, I do not want to belittle what Stone has done. I think it is a great idea, and judging from the response a lot of local consumers did as well. I just want everyone to remember that you don't have to wait around for a special promotion from a California brewery in order to drink fresh beer in this town. That's what your local brewery is here for!