Pyramid Breweries Going Back to Its Roots

July 13th, 2011 · 2 Comments · General Beer News, Washington Breweries

Thanks to Ben Ferris on Flickr.

Pyramid Breweries will soon be making a return back to its roots. Pyramid Hefeweizen will return to its original name, and the packaging will change as well. In addition to a shift in branding, they also plan to start using the Seattle brewhouse for smaller batches of test beers and are in the process of hiring a brewer (Job posted at this link) for that location.

“We Hefe’d Up!”
When Pyramid was purchased by Magic Hat Brewing Company back in 2008, some significant changes were made to the branding of some classic Pyramid beers. Well-known names and labels were pushed aside for replacements that could be described as, well, different. Pyramid Apricot Ale became known as “Audacious Apricot Ale” for the blink of an eye, but that didn’t last long until they changed it back. But, the biggest change was to their best-selling Pyramid Hefeweizen, which transormed into “Haywire Hefeweizen.” It was the same beer, but with a new, “edgy” name. Along with these odd names came new packaging. The classic pyramids on the old labels were replaced with hyper images featuring guys surfing, rock climbing, and other active sports poses. It was a new direction aimed at attracting new customers, but it left many confused.

While stagnant sales helped inspire the original shift in branding, the new look and names were not the answer. According to Ryan Daley, brand manager for Pyramid, lower sales and feedback from consumers gave them a good “slap in the face”, and they realized that their new direction was not working out. “By moving away from our roots, people viewed us differently. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we needed to change,” added Daley. “Our consumers are at the heart of everything we do and we intend on listening moving forward.”

In addition to the name change for the Hefeweizen, changes to the packaging will be made. “We’ve made some minor packaging changes right away, but we will be talking with beer drinkers and unveiling a new design later this year that is more reminiscent of the tradition and heritage of the Pyramid brand and the Pacific Northwest,” said Daley.

Brewing Returns to Seattle Alehouse
If you visit the Pyramid Alehouse in Seattle, you’ll notice that there is a fully-functioning brewery in back. Sadly, it really hasn’t been utilized in the past 3 or 4 years. That’s about to change, as they currently have a job listing posted in search of a brewer to man the kettles at the Seattle brewery. Pyramid’s head brewer, Ryan Pappe, seems excited at the prospect of being able to brew test batches on the smaller 15 bbl brewery. Currently, their limited release beers made for their retail locations are brewed on their larger systems in Oregon and California. A smaller system will allow them more flexibility in testing recipes, and less risk in committing to a new brew.

Pyramid Outburst Imperial IPA is the perfect example of what can come out of having more test batches. Originally poured as a limited release draft-only beer, Outburst was such a hit that they turned it into a seasonal release in 12oz bottles earlier this year that exceeded their sales expectations (It sounds like we are likely to see much more of this beer as well). More test batches means more chances to find those beers that customers go crazy for. Pyramid has many talented brewers, and Pappe said they’re all excited to come up with new ideas.

Cheers to Pyramid for their new direction, and for essentially admitting they were wrong. Here’s to hoping they find success in the future, and in addition to growing their core brands and making the head honchos happy, that they let their brewers have a little fun and in turn reward Seattle beer drinkers with more special test beers down at the alehouse.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Rich Y.

    Outburst is a fantastic beer and it would be criminal to not bring it back, on a permanent basis. Really well done.

  • Mark

    If returning to their roots includes employing more slutty know-nothing-about-beer spokesmodels (like the ones staffing their booth at the Washington Brewer’s Festival @ St. Edwards Park last month), then COUNT ME IN!

    (not really).

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