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Your Beermonger: The Spice of Life

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

Just a couple months ago, we looked at how breweries using different formats, packaging, etc. for their beer was re-shaping the beer aisles of grocery stores and retailers everywhere. One of the more notable aspects of this experimentation to me is the rise of the variety pack.

Variety packs used to be largely a method by which breweries would introduce themselves to new customers; a relatively straight-forward sampling of core beers from which people could pick out a favorite. Only over the past couple of years have craft brewers come around to the idea that variety packs could be used as a way to get limited-release beers to the public, while also tapping into potential sale increases not unlike those for seasonal releases.

Unsurprisingly, craft breweries are coming up with new themes and variety pack formats all the time. He’Brew has just recently released its Hops In He’Brew 12-pack featuring some of its best-known, hopped-up Ales along with an exclusive hoppy Lager, but I’m partial to the Holiday Packs — complete with eight beers and candles for you to make your own “beer Menorah” with during Chanukah.

Just this week, Stone Brewing Company sent its special Mixed four-packs to Virginia. The Stone Mixed Pack features four of its 22-ounce bomber bottles bundled together; out of the bunch only one (Imperial Russian Stout) is a special release, but the pricing of the Mixed Pack is very attractive.

When it comes to variety/sampler packs though, the 12-pack still reigns supreme. Devils Backbone released their Adventure Packs this year, which will rotate out some previous draft-only and one-off brews every few months or so along with two of their hit year-round offerings. Hitting stores in Virginia this week is Victory Brewing’s Summer Variety 12-pack, which will include their popular Summer Love and Whirlwind Wit seasonals along with two previously draft-only beers from their Hop Ticket Series.

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp 12-pack debuted in 2008, with participants from the restaurant, retail, and distribution sides of the business going to Sierra’s Chico, Calif., brewery to develop recipes with them. The 2014 edition of the Beer Camp 12-pack take the concept to another level: Sierra is teaming with a dozen of the biggest and most influential craft breweries in the U.S. to create all-new recipes in celebration of its new brewery opening near Asheville, N.C. Look for Beer Camp 2014 to arrive later this summer.

As craft breweries proliferate and retail space gets more and more crowded, look for variety packs to be used more often. What are some of your favorites?

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Community discussion guidelines: Our sponsored columns are written by members of the local business community. While we encourage a robust and open discussion, we ask that all reviews of the businesses — good or bad — be directed to another venue, like Yelp. The comments section is intended for a conversation about the topic of the article.

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