Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is Magic Hat Listening?

Are the Magic Hat Variety Paks about to start showing some real variety?

Ever since they released Circus Boy around the beginning of 2006, Magic Hat has been pimping it. Hard. They seemingly want to replicate the overwhelming success that they've enjoyed with the #9, and as such shove both beers in the face of the consumer at every chance they get. This includes putting them both in every mix pack they have offered from 2006 until present (the Mardi Gras, Pandora's Box, Summer Variety Show, Feast of Fools, Night of the Living Dead, Participation, Joe's Garage...and the list goes on). The formula has been simple: three bottles of #9, three bottles of Circus Boy, three bottles of the current seasonal offering and three bottles of a "special" beer such as one from their Mystery Batch Series or, of late, their Odd Notion Series. This quickly became a stale formula that drew complaints and negative feedback from craft beer lovers everywhere.

Well, it seems that Magic Hat has heard what many of their consumers have to say and is finally throwing wrench (a small one, but a wrench nonetheless) into their formula with the new Summer Scene Variety Pak. Yes, we're still getting the #9, the latest Odd Notion Beer (a Belgian Blonde), and their Summer seasonal (Wacko, a red colored beer made with beet sugar...that's right, I said beet sugar), but the Circus Boy has been axed in favor of their new-ish year round offering, Lucky Kat Ale, and I have to say that although I like but don't love both the #9 and Circus Boy, I too was sick of seeing them both in every Varity Pak and am quite happy with the decision and hope that something similar is done with future Variety Paks as opposed to this just being dumb luck this time around.

Yes, I understand the need to get flagship brands out there, but if it can be kept to one of the two flagships per Variety Pak with said brands alternating from season to season, then we're finally looking at some nicer packages. That said, I propose that the brewery take it one step further with one of these two options:

1. Utilize a Variety Pak format of three bottles each of either the #9 or Circus Boy, the current seasonal and a special series beer, but use that fourth slot to resurrect some of the great beer that Magic Hat has mysteriously retired over the years with little to no explanation, yet were loved and highly regarded by many. Sure, slow sales were likely the reason for their demise, because if they were selling they'd still be on the shelves today, but limited runs in seasonal packages are the perfect spot for these beers because variety packages are going to be released anyway as they almost always sell well on the novelty factor alone, and the resurrected beers wouldn't be competing against the other Magic Hat brands for six-pack shelf space. Let's see the return of Heart of Darkness, Humble Patience/Bob's 1st Ale, Fat Angel, Blind Faith, Ravell and others!

2. The Vermont-based Magic Hat recently merged with Seattle-based Pyramid Breweries. How about a real mix package that offers the best of both coasts: two bottles each of a flagship, a seasonal and a special release from Magic Hat and the same from Pyramid, all in one box?

Now those are two packages that I and many other beer enthusiasts would be all over.