This story is easy to skip over on first glance. It’s a new release from Urban Artifact, and not that it isn’t going to be delicious (quite the opposite in fact, I distinctly remember this as being amazing when it was on draft only in the taproom), but these guys release a lot of great beers – so the me dedicating an entire post to one might seem like it’s a little much – but I promise you, hang in there… there’s more to this story.
First though? The beer.
Salted Rye Gose
This beer is being released as part of their Epicurean series at Urban, which means that the beer is either food inspired, or designed to pair up with food. Salted Rye Gose is a little bit of each, actually.
The beer is very similar to some of their others that you’ve most likely gotten yourself pretty familiar with, their seasonal series of beers is all the same base style – from Chariot, to Pinwheel, Sliderule and even Keypunch. The similiarity ends at the base style, though. Salted Rye Gose gets some help from caraway seeds, poppy seeds, black sesame seeds and of course sea salt to create a real treat of a beer that pairs up incredibly well with a roast beef sandwhich.
If you missed this one when it was on tap in the brewery last time, you’re going to have to take my word for it – get this beer.
The trick with this beer, though… it’s going in to packaging which you’ll only be able to purchase outside of Urban’s taproom. This seemingly backwards approach is exactly why I wanted to write this post though.
A Thank You To Retailers
The craft beer model(s) has been flipped upside down and sideways more times than I can count in the last ten years or so. What works doesn’t, what doesn’t is popular and what is fun can be forgotten in two seconds. It’s a crazy world that is still trying to figure itself out in a lot of ways.
The idea of releasing packaging from your taproom has grown in popularity, and you’ll see it all over town (including at Urban Artifact at least once a month). The brewery wants their partners, though, to know that this isn’t their goal for releases. In a letter for their retailers they layed it all out – this is a thank you to them and maybe even a middle finger at what has become “normal”.
They go on to explain it extremely eloquently:
The brewery taproom was meant to help spur the growth of craft beer by giving breweries a means to market their beer directly to consumers. The taproom has allowed breweries a way to build a brand name and sell additional beer at retail pricing, which has helped buffer the razor thin margins inherent in running a small craft brewery. Taprooms were never intended to take business away from retailers, but instead grow the craft beer market at large; a rising tide raises all ships.
The purpose, they explain, to them for taproom sales was and is never about taking business away from the people who sell their cans, who pour their beers… it’s about building a bigger picture that helps everyone.
The brewery calls out their fellow companies who are opening multiple taprooms across their distribution footprint, further cutting into the sales of their retail partners. It’s a system that has become normal… but not one that Urban Artifact feels is within the spirit of what the industry is “supposed” to be.
The New Series
This Salted Rye Gose isn’t just a new member of the Epicurean series… it’s also the kick off to a new Retailer Appreciation Program from Urban Artifact.
They will be periodically releasing special beers that will only be available at retail locations. You won’t find them to go at Urban, you won’t grab a pint when you’re watching your favorite band in the taproom – retail only.
The staff in the taproom is ready to send you away. They will help you get out and explore your own neighborhood where you can purchase the beer. They want you more now than ever to help support the real hyper local retailers in a move that will build the other, so often forgotten side of this industry.
This is an exciting, smart and new way for Urban Artifact to show what makes them Gnarly. It’s also a great new thing for us as consumers to think about. What are you doing to push this industry forward and to help build a bigger picture?