You might need to sit down for this. Someday, your favorite Saint Arnold beer might go away. Forever.
It’s not because we don’t love it. Really. When we develop a beer at Saint Arnold, we want them all to flourish. We spend months – sometimes even years – developing them. Brewers have recipes that arrive to them in dreams (like Daydream), others are experimental test brews served to willing employees at our annual holiday party (like French Press). They take research and development, meticulous raw materials sourcing, label design, pricing alignment, distributor and retailer presentations, sales and marketing plans, artful brewing, precise packaging and logistics. To develop and release a beer takes the entire village of Saint Arnold.
So when we decide a beer’s time has come, it’s not because we think it’s fun. After all, we put a beer to rest that won four Great American Beer Festival medals, including a Gold (Weedwacker). At the end of the day, beers live and die based on consumer demand.
Please, wipe away your tears and bear with our explanation, painful as it may be.
At the brewery, we have a limited amount of capacity. This capacity is divided amongst different sizes of tanks. Our largest brands such as Art Car IPA, Lawnmower, and Seasonal typically reside in 240 barrel fermenters. Smaller brands take up real estate in 120 barrel fermenters. We make 13 year round beers, five seasonal beers and at least two annual special releases. To make all of these beers takes lots of tanks and lots of logistics.
Being a locally oriented craft beer producer, we value freshness. Because we don’t pasteurize or use preservatives in our beer, we like our beers on and off the shelf within 90 days after packaging. If and when a beer brand can no longer sell through 120 barrels of volume in a 90 day time period, it becomes an efficiency and capacity problem. Our facility is built to run efficiently on 240 and 120 barrel batches of beer – not 90, 60, or 30 barrel batches.
Those are just the internal issues with slowing brands. There are also external forces at hand.
We have many great retail partners that developed sophisticated ways of building product assortment on their shelves. If a beer isn’t getting purchased by our customers at a rate that makes them enough profit given the value of their space, they will decide, quite fairly, to no longer stock it. If one of our beers does very well, they will give it more space on the shelf, or request that we produce package extensions such as 12 packs or 19.2 oz cans.
Once we place a beer on the shelf at your favorite retailer, there are only limited courses of action we can take to increase the rate of sale, and we do these as often as we can (things like in-store samplings, social media promotion, and events around town).
What it really comes down to is a critical mass of consumers purchasing the beer. We need enough consumers to purchase 120 barrels (or more!) within 90 days of a beer to create the happy place of fresh beer, satisfied retailers, and an efficient business operation at 2000 Lyons Ave.
So trust us when we say we loved Texas Wheat, Winter Stout, Weedwacker, and Endeavour just as much as you did, but unfortunately, there just weren’t enough of us. Perhaps one day Saint Arnold himself will fill your mug with your favorite yester-beer. Until then, try your best to find joy in the beers that are with you, and fondly remember the good times you shared with beers of the past. Treat the beers that are on the shelf like friends that need your love and care. Invite your friends and family to experience them and all they have to offer. After all, their time with us might be limited. It’s really up to you.
Published February 18, 2021