If there is one good thing to come out of the ongoing shutdown of bars and restaurants it’s Breakside Brewery suddenly opting to package flagship IPA, Wanderlust IPA and What Rough Beast hazy IPA in 12oz bottles and six-packs. All three will be introduced in early May, with some shifts in the 2020 brand calendar release schedule as Breakside celebrates their 10th anniversary. There will be no shortage of new beers on the horizon, just more in bottles than ever before.
Breakside has an ambitious 2020 calendar dominated by their year-long 10th anniversary collaborations. The pandemic has thrown some of those releases up in the air, but all of them are still moving forward while classics join the fray in 6-packs.
“We’ve had to make some changes to the schedule, format, and volumes of some releases, but we are still trying to put out the full range of beer that we originally promised in our 2020 Brand Calendar,” says Breakside brewmaster Ben Edmunds. “The release schedule for upcoming 10th Anniversary in-state collaborations is a little less certain.”
The 25 collaboration beers planned for 2020 were a mix of 22oz bottles and draft with the in-state brewery collaborations being draft-only. While on-premise bars and restaurants are closed for dine-in service, draft beer-only is no longer feasible. Breakside is already 5 beers deep into their anniversary series with earlier releases with Cloudburst Brewing, The Rare Barrel, pFriem Family Brewers and Barley Browns. Available this week is a new collaboration with Austin, Texas’s Pinthouse Pizza called Dream Pop! IPA, and a collab with Alesong called Kinda Like Orange Wine is in tanks now but was planned for draft.
Breakside has a robust distribution network with plenty of great grocery store placements that will quickly sell through product during the quarantine. But, Breakside moved a significant amount of draft beer through three of their own taprooms and local accounts. The slowdown on product will likely push the 10th anniversary collaborations – especially those ones planned for draft – into an extended timeline that reaches into 2021. It will also necessitate some draft beers becoming bottle releases, like the pFriem Family Brewers collab SoCal Pils and the Barley Browns collab Wanderjack being brewed again for package.
Consumers likely won’t be mad if they have to wait until 2021 for Breakside’s collaborations with Cigar City and Grains of Wrath, they will have smaller format best-sellers to crush in the meantime. Not only is Breakside IPA, Wanderlust IPA and What Rough Beast going into 12oz bottles for the first time, but Pilsner will also return to that format in addition to 22’s.
Stay on the look out for the one-off @Portland IPA in limited release 16oz cans as of this coming weekend. This collaboration with Portland Gear is a double dry-hopped version of the year-round flagship IPA. @Portland IPA, along with the rotating Seeker Series in tall boy cans beg the question of why not put all Breakside beers in this format rather then bottles?
“We’ve got a great bottling line, expert packaging staff, and the infrastructure in place to produce our flagship beers in 12 oz bottles much more quickly than cans,” says Edmunds. “We don’t own our own canning line, and, while it is practical for us to work with mobile packagers for one-off projects like the Seeker Series and @Portland Gear beer, the mobile lines don’t have the throughput to handle our production volumes on a day-to-day basis.”
Breakside’s barrel-aged series of small wrapped bottle formats won’t change at all. A brand new batch of Cultivating Mass rye whiskey barrel-aged Imperial Porter will be out soon – with two adjunct flavored variants. A brandy barrel-aged Chocolate Milk Stout should be out in mid-May, and hitting later this month is Queen of the Rodeo, a wood-aged sour ale with cherries, rose, and hibiscus flowers.
Sadly, Breakside’s ongoing lager series may be their biggest casualty of Coronavirus.
“Our draft lager series is in a holding pattern for the moment, as we don’t have any plan to package those beers,” says Edmunds, reminding us they are still open for to-go sales at their taprooms. “Marzen and Coldest Beer in Town are available in crowler and growler format at our three locations.”
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.