Why would Saint Archer introduce itself to the nation as the brewer of something thin and fizzy?
At least Adam Warren, Saint Archer’s vice president of marketing, did not gloat.
“We got lucky,” Warren said. “The market moved so quickly into easier drinking beers.”
Last year, the Miramar brewery revealed its first beer to be distributed coast to coast: Saint Archer Gold, a low-cal, low-carb and — I argued in print — low-interest brew. Already battling image problems — purists see Saint Archer as a craft beer sell-out because, well, it sold out to MillerCoors in 2015 — why introduce yourself to the nation as the brewer of something thin and fizzy?
One problem with my analysis: Consumers are going for the Gold.
Modeled on the Munich Helles style, this beer is crisp, faintly sweet, clean. When test-marketed in Austin, Indianapolis and Charlotte, Gold sold. Ditto in the brewery’s Miramar and Leucadia tap rooms.
“I knew we had something when, at the end of their shifts, this was the beer the brewers were drinking,” said Yiga Miyashiro, director of brewing operations.
The beer’s debut coincided with a national tilt toward low-carb drinks. At 95 calories and 2.6 carbs per 12-ounce can, Gold (4.2 percent alcohol by volume) competes with hard seltzers and other easy-on-the-waistline drinks.
Will Gold’s fans move up Saint Archer’s more substantial offerings? I’m keen on Saint Archer’s barrel-aged Tusk & Grain line, plus the full-bodied IPA and Mosaic IPA.
But what do I know?
Kings of Beer
Gooseberries? Can’t say I’m familiar with this fruit. (It is a fruit, right?)
The label on Saint Archer’s Nelson IPL (6.8 percent alcohol by volume) insisted this beer smacks of said berries. Missed it, but not the distinctive wine grapey-ness and honeydew melon notes of Nelson Sauvin. That New Zealand hop is showcased in this India Pale Lager, which is smoother and less assertive than its India Pale Ale cousins.
The popularity of IPLs — this is the second I’ve reviewed this month, after the Karl Strauss/New Realm collaboration, Sounds Like Fun, Thanks — is a testament to craft brewers’ increasing willingness to try more demanding beer styles. And, I suppose, a measure of their fondness for gooseberries.