Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Would You Do?

My good friend, and superb photographer, Mark recently asked me what styles of beer I would introduce if I were in charge of Primátor? What a challenging idea, and I am not sure how I responded at the time apart from saying I would introduce an imperial stout as their Christmas special rather than simply re-labelling their Premium lager. Having taken some time to reflect further on this question, here are some suggestions.

Primátor market themselves at the "Speciality Specialists", which given their excellent Weizen, Stout and English Pale Ale brands certainly marks them out from the rest of the Czech brewing - I should point out of course that there is Kocour and other micros producing great ales, but we are talking about a brewer with a more extensive reach here. With that marketing in mind, I would firstly slim down the range of standard strength lagers to just the Premium, Tmávé and the 13˚ Polotmávé. That would include ditching the new 11˚ lager, even though it is a good beer, after all if you are the speciality specialists, why do what everyone else including Gambrinus, Budvar, Svijany and Kozel are doing? Some will no doubt cry that there is a market, and true enough there is, but what is special about doing that which is becoming run of the mill?

Regarding the range of strong lagers, I would focus on the award winning 16˚ Exklusiv at the expense of the 21˚ Rytířský, and begin introducing it to export markets - particularly the new 33ml bottle version. I am thinking primarily here of the British and Irish markets where strong lagers certainly have their following, perhaps not the elegant eloquent quaffers like us though.

Thankfully the guys at Primátor have already started addressing one cause of confusion with their wonderfully rich 24˚ Double, which is now being sold as a Baltic Porter. Previously the label referred to it as a Special Dark Beer, while Ratebeer and BeerAdvocate list it as a Doppelbock and Euro Dark Lager respectively. With that slight confusion cleared up, this 10.5%ABV heavyweight can take on the likes of Pardubický Porter - and indeed will be doing so in a taste test soon here, alongside the German variant Neuzeller Porter.

Having dealt with the current range, we turn to what new products would I introduce to their slimmed down selection of beers? Firstly, as I said above, I would start producing a special Imperial Stout Christmas Beer to replace the lame re-labelled effort currently used, and no that wouldn't mean re-labelling the Double and packaging it in a smaller bottle. As for other options it would be too easy to let my imagination run riot and suggest things involving rauchmalt, fruit or any number of weird and wonderful ingredients, but I feel that for a company the size of Primátor it is better to make excellent examples of recognised styles for an already conservative market.

As such I would probably look at introducing an IPA to the range, probably an American version with plenty of C-hops and Amarillo for citrusy zing. Given that they already make beer style from England, Germany and Ireland, perhaps looking for inspiration in the other major European brewing countries would also be a possibility - a Belgian Abbey Ale, a 90/- Scottish ale or a French Biere de Garde even?

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