This year, Sam Adams’ summer pick pack only contains four varieties of beer, down from the usual six (Although the spring mix pack similarly only contained four beers). Those varieties are Boston Lager, Sam '76, Summer Ale, and their lemonade shandy. I gave it a hard pass even though I typically always try to get the seasonal mix pack at least once a season, and have for years, despite it being a financial imposition for me.
I feel like the shandy is not a beer- it’s half a beer mixed with something not a beer. It’s drinkable enough, but honestly I like fake lemonade better than most real lemonades. I can mix a cheap beer like Natty Boh with lemonade-flavored made-from-powder Wal-Mart brand beverages and get something better if that’s what I’m in the mood for- and at a far less expensive price. If it’s just two bottles, 1/6th of the pack, that’s annoying, but something I can live with, but I really don’t want to pay craft prices for a pack that’s basically 1/4 hard lemonade.
As lots of people have noted, the Boston Lager and Sam '76 are basically generic, having nothing to do with summer or any theme one might assign to the mix pack, and available year round. I like both beers, so neither are deal killers (I like them both- Boston Lager as a nostalgic treat, and Sam '76 for it’s Mosaic hopes), but it’s not really an attraction. Then there’s Sam Summer Ale, which I kind of like and largely have bought in previous years just to sort of complete the seasonal cycle (Love Octoberfest), but is not a huge attraction.
I don’t know, I kind of feel like they aren’t putting much effort into this any more. The summer pack was always their weakest, but it’s reached the realm of being kind of ridiculous now. Two beers that can be bought year round, one beer that can be bought separately in various formats, and one drink that is not even a full beer.
In the old days, you could count on 6 varieties of beer, two of each, and they’d be often include stuff that you couldn’t buy any other way, plus a minimum of one brand new type of beer.
At this point, just buying a 12-pack of Boston Lager makes more sense to me.
And, I have to say, the Boston Brewing Company is not the only beer company that seems to have stopped putting much effort into seasonal mix packs. I rarely even see seasonal mix packs on the shelves these days- a lot of brewers seem to have either stopped doing them or stopped pushing their distributors to distribute them- and a lot of the ones I do see are underwhelming. I remember a decade ago when it seemed like everyone was doing it and you could be exploring seasonal mix packs all summer, each with a variety of interesting beers.
I realize that seasonal mix packs were never like the absolute best beers, and often they would contain the flagship beer and some other beers you could get separately, but that stuff didn’t bother me as part of the complete package that these packs used to be. Now it seems like beer companies are completely half-assing them, though. It’s almost like the ones that are left are making them worse to justify discontinuing them later based on the poor sales the inferior versions will get or something- they are that bad. And there are very few of them left that still get to non-specialty general audience liquor stores relative to the old days.
What’s going on? Why is this happening?