New Look, Same Beer

Today as I was sitting at my desktop wondering what to write about that for today’s Brewpublic post, an email from Pyramid appeared in my inbox. Golly gee, since subscribing to their email list a while back, I can’t remember receiving an update from the brewery on anything. From time to time I would paw around the brewery, a place I was once employed, to see if the place still had a pulse and if anything new was stirring. My friend Tom Bleigh, the head brewer, and the familiar faces in the tap room, kindly slip a sample my way whenever a new beer becomes available.

When Magic Hat Brewing took over the company last August and salvaged an ailing venture, it seemed hopeful that some innovation beyond the old run-of-the-mill branding was inevitable. Would the Vermont-based Magic Hat start producing some of their more interesting beers like the Odd Notion brews, bywhich those who visit the website can vote on new brewing ideas and suggest names for the products? Zany seasonals like a honeyed braggot and the potent Chaotic Chemistry, along with a quirky interactive website has made Magic Hat at very least a fun brewery with some progressive ideas. For so long, it seemed forward thinking brand development seemed to be as foreign at Pyramid as it could be.  Upon seeing a delivery truck out front of the brewery with Pyramid’s beers and the tagline “Choice is good” I had to scoff a bit. With a line-up that consisted of three light bodied releases at once (Curveball, Crystal Wheat, and MacTarnahans Slingshot), a recent attempt to remove the dull mask was for naught.

Now, the company, with Magic Hat looking down, is pushing forth into the 21st Century of brewing.  One-offs and the involvement of production brewers in the development of recipes is leaning toward more artisianal styles that include a Belgian Saison and the release of the MacTarnahans brand summer seasonal Grifter IPA. As for the other brews that Pyramid harkens as award winning at festivals such as the GABF, like the Crystal Wheat and the obnoxiously sweet Apricot ale, the company has revealed a new marketing face. I am torn as to what I make of the new Pyramid branding. Using catch phrases like “Same Great Beer, New Name” regarding the newly dubbed Haywire Hefeweizen and Audacious Apricot. Does alliteration and snazzy labels does not change the fact that the company has not really gone haywire or developed an audacious new product. Granted, I understand how marketing works, but is anyone really convinced here in Beervana? It is not my attempt to knock these beers, but how many times will Pyramid going to try to repackage an old product before realizing the needs of us beer geeks who live where the beer is being produced?

However, in many subtle ways the mold seems to be finally changing slowly and under great caution because, afterall, its not just some little mom and pop brewery that can do a 180 overnight. Hopefully these slight moves made by Pyramid under the watch of Magic Hat will prove to be small steps toward a bright innovative future designed for 21st Century craft beer enthusiasts. We’ll know the turn has been made when great ideas like MacTarnahans Bourbon Blackwatch, Grand Deluxe Tripel and cool cans of Macs Amber once again appear. But for now, we will wait patiently and enjoy the wealth of beers we have at our fingertips in this fine region.  Cheers to Pyramid for making some baby steps, now let’s hope inertia wins in this matter.

What do you think of Pyramid beer and/or the new look? Leave a comment.


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