Anyone else miss the little "stories" and stickers from Sam Adams brews of years past?

The subject line may not make it 100% obvious what I’m talking about, but they only allow me so many words in a subject line (understandably). :smile:

Basically, what I mean by “stories” on the label of the old Sam Adams brews was that they used to have like a paragraph or two on the label that described the beer more fully than the usual taglines and sometimes added a bit of color. A made up example for Cold Snap would be something like “Brewed to last you from the last depths of winter cold into the first blooms of spring, our Cold Snap owl bundles up for the cold with an eye toward better times to come. This flavorful Belgian-style witbier is the perfect companion for cold winter nights and nice mild spring evenings alike.”.

I used to like those lengthy colorful descriptions.

The other thing Sam used to do that I miss is that the old seasonals used to have a sticker on the back side of the bottle that would show you the “cycle” of beer seasonals. It’d be a circle shape with four squares at each 90 degree point on the circle. Within the square would be a logo for each primary seasonal beer, and there would be curved lines with arrows from one scare to the next, making it a circle overall. So, you’d have like Octoberfest, Winter Lager, whatever the current spring seasonal was (That’s changed a whole bunch of times), and Summer Ale each getting a square. It was I thought good branding and marketing- kind of the adult version of the old “Collect them all!” advertisements for action figures that would air on children’s television program in years past.

If they have decided to change the seasonal for an upcoming season every once in a while, having the new beer in that sticker would be good hype and sort of a mystery for casual drinkers who don’t use the Internet. Kind of a “Hey, what is this new thing coming up this spring? That looks cool. I’ll have to watch for that and try it out.”- and, if they’ve planned far enough in advance, and it’s a new spring brew (And it always is. :wink: ), they might be able to start having that in the cycle stickers early enough to be included with both Octoberfest and Winter Lager.

Granted, that sticker was used in a time where the beer drinking public was less educated about the concept of seasonal beers in general, and about Sam Adams’ seasonal offerings in particular. Now that Sam’s seasonal stuff is available whereever there is a second tap handle for Sam Adams beyond Boston lager (and sometimes even as the first tap handle), and in almost all liquor stores, and the beer buying public is more familiar with both the concept and the beers themselves, it probably seemed less necessary from a marketing perspective.

Still, little touches like that I think probably bring brand loyalty numbers up a little. The bane of the existence of some craft brewers is that a lot of craft drinkers prefer variety and don’t have a go-to beer like prior generations who would often just pick a favorite macro or regional lager and only or mostly only drink that (I have an uncle who literally will not drink any beers other than Budweiser and Bud Light. He got burned enough with big extended family gatherings often enough where someone said they would stock it and then it didn’t appear that he now literally brings his own six-pack to all of them and asks them to put it on ice for him. I don’t begrudge him that at all- he likes what he likes, and he is taking initiative to make sure he has what he needs to have a good time. It’s also helpful to me, in that if the beer runs out or something, I can sidle up to him and ask him about his personal supply. :wink: ).

So, what do you do if you are a craft brewer and serve a market that generally consists of a combination of both craft drinkers who statistically are less likely to be brand loyal, and non-craft drinkers who only trade up once in a while as finances and circumstances (or a desire to provide something special for houseguests) allow, to get people to buy you beers more loyally? Well, one thing they could do is cut the price of the beer. You know, if they trimmed a few dollars off the price of a 12 pack and a buck or two off the price of a six pack, and got it closer to the price of macros, I’ll bet they’d sell a lot more brews, even if the special price was just for the flagship, like, in the case of Sam Adams, Boston Lager (Or perhaps Sam '76, which they seem to be targeting more to the general public than some of their other beers. I like '76 for it’s Mosaic hops, but usually only wind up getting it when it’s in a mix pack with bottles. I’ll drink cans if they save me money, though [I buy a lot of cheap sub-premium beers like Natty Boh and Genesee lager (The latter is basically the cheapest beer in my liquor store. The former is not quite as inexpensive, but still on the cheaper side, and I like it better. The only cheap beers I’ve found I really can’t drink are Milwaukee’s Best and Busch beer. I’ll try anything else if the price is right.) in that format because a 30 cube of cans is significantly cheaper than the same number of beers in their bottle format, but if cans don’t offer me a cost savings, I prefer bottles.]). It’d become more financially viable for the macro drinkers who may currently only be able to afford to (or budget a) trade up occasionally, and tempt some craft drinkers to buy it more often to help them save money for some really nice elite expensive craft beer they don’t normally pop for or for other non-beer related things. You know, it becomes “good enough” if the price is low enough that you’re still drinking “better beer” and it becomes harder to justify not going back to that well repeatedly just because you want to tick a new beer that is not going to have much (if at all) better quality, but which is significantly pricier.

However, we know that most brewers won’t cut prices, and that even if they do, distributors and retailers may mark the beer up higher anyway and keep the difference to add to their own profit margins.

So, what’s the other way to increase brand loyalty? Make it seems more like a lifestyle or a club. You know, like that old stickers that SA used to include with all the seasonals (See above), where you buy the Octoberfest and each time you’re drinking one, there is that sticker that shows you Winter Lager is up next, and the other two main seasonals, which kind of I think, sometimes subconsciously, both advertise to you and make you think about it less as “I look forward to the SA Octoberfest every year” and more like “I drink the SA seasonals, and always look forward to the next one”. They seem less like disconnected beers on the shelf that happen to be made by the same company and more like a sort of cycle and continuation of your “regular beer” or one one of your regular beers.

Along the same lines, I think the stories help by both informing you more about the beer itself and how it’s brewed, and also by personalizing it with colorful elements like, in my hypothetical example, the personality of the owl on the label, helps build brand loyalty.

The old Magic Hat fortunes under the bottle caps were similar.

What do you folks think?