Last week we dumped a bunch of Green Flash news out there — new beers, new locations, new packaging — but, call us softies, we were most interested in the beers that were being retired, the packaging that was cut and the strategy behind those decisions. So, we followed back up with Mike Hinkley, Green Flash Brewing Co. co-founder and CEO, for a peek behind the fermenter.
CBB: So, Tangerine Soul Style seemed like one of your trending beers just based on how many places I saw it [we are based in Ohio]. Was it always intended to have a shorter run? Was it not meeting expectations sales wise?
Hinkley: Tangerine Soul Style tastes great and was well received by our fans. But Passion Fruit Kicker kicked its butt! Passion Fruit Kicker has become a powerhouse for us, so we are concentrating our attention in that direction.
The focus on core beers feels like a change of pace, not just for you but for the craft beer market, where new beers are constantly rotating in and out. Is this your direction because you want to establish those core brands more in new markets, where they will have that new feel anyway?
We have to continue build on the core business. We will also continue to create and experiment and come up with new beers. On any given day we have about 30 different, non-core beers pouring in our tasting rooms. The best of those end up on rotating draft handles. Starting this year we are organizing that effort in the form of a seasonal draft-only program. And the best of those may eventually become part of the core.
What are the considerations that go into a “reduce the SKU” plan that you are executing? Just too many beers for not enough pay off? Not enough time/capacity to devote?
We are a small brewery, compared to many, and we have limited resources. To be successful we have to devote our focus to a finite number of beers in the marketplace. That number is growing a little smaller as we introduce a coordinated seasonal program for the first time in years.
All of this makes sense. Are today’s announcements just considered a 2018 plan that could completely change in 2019, or is this the new operating philosophy in terms of number of offerings and distribution focus?
The operating philosophy continues to evolve over the years. The 2018 product changes reflect that. In 2019, as things continue to evolve, so will our product line, with new and exciting experiences for our customers.
Oh, and what’s up with cutting bombers?
In an effort to reduce the number of products that our brewers, sales team, distributors and retailers have to manage, we chose to eliminate 22-ounce bottles altogether. Bombers used to be the best way for consumers to try new beers, and there is still a place for them on the shelf. But now, there are many more options that are available to consumers, especially the surge of cans. Consumers are choosing bombers less and less in favor of the other packages.