Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Alpha King and Croupier? I’m not King Solomon, but …

Several readers have asked for answers to two questions that are different, but closely linked.

What happened to the Alpha King?
What happened to the Croupier IPA?

Long ago, before there was an NABC brewery, I committed to carrying Alpha King, the flagship pale ale from Three Floyds, as an everyday draft selection.

Later we added Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and Arrogant Bastard to the everyday list. After that, we started brewing Elector, and then Jesse conceived of Croupier IPA and later Hoptimus. On top of all those IBUs, I continue to purchase kegs of hoppy ales from throughout the United States and to pour them with regularity, most of the time alongside the preceding.

And so it came to pass some months ago that we noticed a marked discrepancy, in that while Croupier IPA remains the top selling beer at off-premise accounts, it sells the least at the pub and pizzeria among the four NABC beers that flow from the serving tanks, as opposed to the seasonals that are kegged.

Meanwhile, NABC’s Mt. Lee (California-style “steam” beer) has been selling quickly … and Alpha King has been getting harder to obtain. Roughly a month ago, there was a week’s worth of Alpha King draft outage at the wholesale level. It was the sixth time since Thanksgiving, 2006, that I was unable to obtain Alpha King when ordered. It isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s because craft beer is selling rapidly, and the market share is expanding. With Alpha King and others, there isn’t enough to go around. We're on allocation when it comes to certain bottled items.

Taken together, all these instances add up to a multi-step decision, which is this: Alpha King and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale now are combined as rotating on one tap. Croupier IPA goes to keg only, and Mt. Lee goes into the serving tank where Croupier IPA was before. Apart from a brief period while the changeover is made, outside accounts still will have Croupier IPA, and hopefully our house hoppy ale will do better at home once it is being dry-hopped in the keg again.

Some of you won’t like it. Sorry, but that’s the deal … until I change my mind again.

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