Josie Martin Mendoza / Flickr
Everyone screws up at their job. Hell, some people screw up like it’s their job, and they still get to sit in the cubicle next to you. (You suck at everything, Andy!) But just because a brewery stops making a beer doesn’t mean that it was a failure -- or even that it was a “screw up” of any sorts. In fact, by some standards, quite a few discontinued beers can actually be considered huge successes.
Below, brewmasters from around the country talk about their favorite beer they ever discontinued. Let’s sigh loudly and pine longingly together:
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“We discontinued this beer after a short run in a 22oz format. We moved away from that package type to focus on bringing beers to 6-packs. It was an awesome, crisp, and clean IPA with citrus, grassy, and a touch of tropical notes. A little less malty than most of our other IPAs. We still brew it now and again at the pub where the beer originated. It’s a brand that could potentially see a future release in a 6-pack -- you never know.” -- Veronica Vega, Brewmaster
“I used to brew this smoked helles bock -- a beautiful smoked lager using peat-smoked malt along with pilsner and vienna malts. Each year I brewed it, the amount of smoked malt varied due to the degree of smokiness character in the malt. I loved the recipe, but since I couldn’t dial in the desired result, I stopped brewing it. Though I do have a scotch ale on tap now with peat malt called Scotch Tapped that’s quite delicious.” -- David Wollner, Owner/Head Brewer
San Francisco, CA
“As a brewpub, we don’t really carry other beer brands, and we’re always free to reintroduce a recipe. That stated, there are some beers I brewed that are hard to replicate as a result of barrel-aging. When we barrel age a beer, we call it part of our Stave Series. One of my earlier attempts was loosely based on a kriek, called Stave Series #6: Cherry Stave. It was a sour ale aged six months in French oak wine barrels filled with sour cherries, followed by a secondary fermentation with lactobacillus and brettanomyces cultures, and then ‘dry hopped’ with more cherries. Basically, these things are singular in nature and hard to replicate at the brewpub level. I still think about that one fondly.” -- Brenden Dobel, Brewmaster
Schmaltz Brewing Company / Facebook" width:300 align:right credits:"Shmaltz Brewing Company / Facebook"
Clifton Park, NY
“We used to make this pomegranate strong ale named Origin that everyone loved. It was wonderful fresh. The real pomegranate allowed the flavor to further develop as it aged, especially for anyone who sat on a bottle for a year or two before opening. Origin was a product that people don’t stop asking about, even after a couple of years being off the market. We didn't really axe it, it was just a beer we set aside for a year, and then another...I have a feeling Origin Pomegranate Strong Ale could find its way back to market in the future.” -- Richie Saunders, Head Brewer
“My favorite beer we no longer make was our dry stout. We just called it Pub Stout because it was a simple, easy drinking beer. It was also designed to be light enough to float most other beers to make black and tans. It was delicious, but not exciting. It was easily the slowest seller we've ever had, so I discontinued it. Though, much to our sales team's chagrin, I threaten to bring it back often!” -- Chris Davison, Lead Brewer
“It was the first beer I ever made at Harpoon, and was first brewed as a summer seasonal in ’95. I had been to Dusseldorf and I fell in love with the style there -- the drinking from small glasses, the whole experience of it. Unfortunately it didn’t sell all that well. People didn’t seem to know what an Alt was -- they thought it was maybe like an I.P.A., but an A.L.T. So we stopped brewing it until 2004 when I had the chance to brew it for our 100 Barrel Series, which was great. But those are one-off beers, so it was a short return. But now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I’ll put the Alt on our pilot system schedule. Talking about it is making me thirsty for it.” -- Al Marzi, Chief of Brewing Operations
“One of our brewery employees designed a recipe for our pilot batch program called the Spawn Series. The recipe called for so many hops it clogged our heat exchanger! We decided we couldn't brew it again, but it was so delicious.” -- Dean Coffey, Co-Founder/Brewmaster