Friday, January 20, 2017

Rediscovering the mixed 12-pack

A friend of mine who works at a bottle shop recalled a conversation she had with a local brewery rep. The rep was quite excited that his brewery's new double IPA was moving from 22 ounce bombers, to six-packs of 12 ounce bottles. My friend told the rep that his brewery really needs to package their double IPA in four-packs of 16 ounce "tall boy" cans. He slumped and sighed to my friend "I know."

Cans have numerous advantages over glass bottles. More and more craft brewers are moving to cans, while newer brewers are launching exclusively in cans. For New England-style IPAs, the four-pack of tall boys is becoming ubiquitous. A four-pack of Night Shift cans usually retails for around $14, while four-packs of Trillium range anywhere from $15-$20.

To put this in perspective, 23 year-old me was accustomed to paying $20 for a "30 bomb" of Budweiser cans, while 28 year-old me would pay $15 for a 12-pack of a Samuel Adams seasonal brew. Now 34 year old me is paying $15 for a 4-pack of tall boys. As much as I love a four pack of a local IPA, there is something to be said for spending the same amount of money on a 12-pack every once in awhile. Especially when it feels like you're dropping $40-$50 every time you go to your local bottle shop or taproom. 

Over the last couple of months I've picked up mixed 12-packs from New England stalwarts Samuel Adams, Harpoon, and Smuttynose. In addition to the greater bang for the buck a 12-pack provides, a mixed twelve pack includes three to six different beers. 

The Samuel Adams and Harpoon packs included some new beers I tried for the first time. Harpoon in particular had some very strong releases in 2016. I really enjoyed Camp Wannamango, Flannel Friday, and UFO Winterland. The Vanilla Porter in their winter pack is another winner. All three gave me a chance to revisit old favorites like Finestkind IPA, Old Fezzewig, and Boston Lager.

As a homebrewer who mostly bottles his beer, an advantage to buying a 12-pack of bottles that can't be overlooked are the bottles and boxes. We used to have more bottles than we knew what to do with, but with so many beers we buy now coming in cans that leaves me less bottles to peel and wash before using to bottle my own beer. The boxes the bottles came can be reused to box up my beer. 

My recent run of 12-pack purchases allowed me to work in some fresh bottles. No matter how carefully I rinse my bottles after use, sometimes there is too much gunky buildup inside a bottle. Like anything else if a bottle isn't clean it isn't sanitary. A bottle that isn't clean can lead to infected beer. It is important to rotate in fresh bottles to replace the grimy old ones. 

Since I've been working Saturdays at Modern Homebrew Emporium and contemplating the next steps in my brewing, I've been brewing a lot more. These new bottles will be needed! As brewers transition from winter to spring beers, I might need to pick up another 12-pack or two. 

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