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2.21.17

The Case for Six Pack Pounders

For the thrifty drinkers of the world, a upstart brewery just introduced heaven.

Written by Alex Weaver

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These days, I can’t get out of a packie (Boston for “beer/liquor store”) for less than $50. Which makes me sound like a real booze bag, sure, but think about it: three nice four packs of pounders, maybe a bottle, and boom, you’re there. A dozen beers and you’re out the equivalent of a nice meal.

I’m happy to pay it. Really, I am. Craft beer is a competitive business. If you make a product that stands out, one to which I’ll return time and time again, you deserve a higher price.

But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t mind, you know, paying less for good beer sometimes.

So it was with surprise and some anticipation that I recently learned Castle Island Brewing Co. (a young but prolific outfit out of Norwood, MA) would start selling Candlepin, its flagship hoppy American pale ale, in six packs of pounders instead of the traditional four.

But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t mind, you know, paying less for good beer sometimes.

“Over the past year, we’ve heard from tons of our fans that they love Candlepin,” Castle Island founder Adam Romanow told me. “We’ve also heard them say they wish it came in larger formats, since it’s a session beer and the four pack was leaving them wanting more. So the inspiration was the customers, and the response was the six pack of pounders.”

A six pack of pounders, you say? Imagine my delight!

To be fair, Castle Island isn’t the first brewery to do this. Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers, another stalwart operation in Framingham, MA, offers its House Lager in this format. And Narragansett has done the same for a while now, too.

But for a hoppy beer drinker like myself, the Candlepin thing is a big deal. It’s a great beer, highly drinkable and flavorful. And generally, I’m a fan of more beer rather than less.

But here’s the real kicker: the new format is retailing for just a buck more than the old one. That means the consumer will get 96 ounces of beer for $11.99 rather than 64 for $10.99. In other words, two 50 cent beers just hit the shelves. What a bargain.

“Crazy, right?,” Adam said. “We knew that a 50 percent price increase would be totally unattractive for the average beer buyer, and we’re always pricing against the market, so we knew we had to be in the $10 to $12 range on the shelf…It will ding our margins up front, but increased volume should help offset that enough so that it’s a positive move.”

Let me go on the record and say that I can wholeheartedly support great breweries selling great beers in larger formats at more affordable prices. I can only hope this becomes a trend, like the canning craze, and that consumers begin to demand it. Because while I’m happy spending $50 at every trip to the beer store, I wouldn’t mind leaving with more beer as a result.

So is Castle Island just the latest in a long line of breweries that will join the movement?

“I’d put money on it: we won’t be the last to go this route,” Adam says. Hopefully he’s right.