Sales numbers reveal insights into a brewery’s current focus and audience. With that in mind, I recently asked nine brewery owners and staffers to answer one question: “What’s the best selling beer in your taproom and why do you think that’s the case?” Their responses might surprise you.
Brouwerij West (Brian Mercer)
Dog ate my homework is our best selling beer in the tasting room. Every day, every hour its Dog Ate My Homework. Why? Hard to know for sure, but as a blackberry saison it’s got so much blackberry that the beer itself is deep red/purple and has all the rustic charm of a homemade country pie without being overly sweet.
Cellador Ales (Alex Ourieff, Sales Manager)
Saison du Rosier is definitely the best selling beer in our taproom. We see the classic saison style as the root of many of the wild ales we produce, and wanted to pay homage to the archetype of that style, Saison Dupont. Our beer diverges from theirs, though, and isn’t meant to be a clone. Theirs is aged in stainless steel and ours is fermented in Cabernet barrels, and while theirs is characterized by the classic lemon/pepper/barnyard profile, ours develops a lot of fruity and even tropical flavors which layer in really interesting ways with those of a classic saison. Our beer develops a deep oak flavor and a little bit of lightstruck character which we find charming.
Saison du Rosier ages for about four months before being bottled/kegged and conditioning for an addition 1-2 months. For us, Saison du Rosier is the perfect saison whether you’re drinking it in the heat of summer or in the more temperate heat of winter, here in LA. We think it’s our most popular beer because we’ve taken the saison, which is comforting and familiar to craft beer enthusiasts, and layered in complexity rooted in the production methods and flavors that characterize Cellador Ales.
Eagle Rock Brewery (Ting Su)
Our most popular beer is Populist, and honestly, I think it’s partially because SoCal is all about IPAs, but also it’s a very well-balanced and easy drinking IPA.
Highland Park Brewery (Bob Kunz)
It’s a bit tough to say because we rotate beers so much. When it’s on tap Hello, LA seems to just fly out of here. It was the first IPA we ever brewed. The idea behind it was to have an IPA that was crushable. At 6.8% and with a someone light body it’s an incredibly drinkable IPA. It’s the IPA we brew the most frequently too, so name recognition probably helps. Having LA in the name probably gives it an advantage with some sort of hometown pride playing into people’s ordering habits.
Los Angeles Ale Works (Kip Barnes)
The best sellers in the taproom are tied. Both Palmera Pils, our Jasmine Rice Pilsner (5.6% ABV), and Lunar Kitten, our single hop Simcoe IPA (7.0% ABV), are tied for first place. We definitely see a lot of people coming into the taproom looking for something lighter and refreshing which fits both beer descriptions. Palmera Pils is a go to for many of our regulars looking at the lighter styles and I’m guessing the sunny weather helps as well. It’s crisp, dry, and the rice adds a nice nuance in the finish. We don’t have flagships, but if we did, Lunar Kitten would definitely be one of them. We even have a mascot for the brand in the form of a neon cat sign. The character on the can definitely helps people remember the beer and Simcoe is a classically flavorful hop. Lunar Kitten is a really easy starting/returning place for IPA lovers that visit.
Mumford Brewing (Todd Mumford, co-founder)
Our best selling style is definitely the NE DIPA. As far as best selling beer within that style, it’s probably Unpresidential (which we have not released in awhile) and all of our Box Logo series sell well for us.
People like the hazy style of IPAs, they like the appearance, the lack of bitterness and the tropical/fruity characteristics of the style. We’ve found that most customers who are into the hazy style now lean toward the higher ABV versions, so the DIPAs end up selling the most in the taproom (8.0% ABV and up).
Three Weavers (Chelsea Manchester, VP of Operations)
Expatriate IPA is still king. This has always been our flagship, which is highly drinkable, balanced and recognized throughout California.
Strand Brewing (Miah Smith, Marketing Manager)
For a large part of the last 10 years our best seller in the Tap Room has predictably been 24th Street Pale Ale. Two years ago, that changed with the arrival of our Blonde Ale. The easy drinking crowd-pleaser took us by surprise as its numbers easily surpassed our most tried and true. It all changed again this summer with the introduction of our not-quite-East Coast-not-quite-West Coast, light bodied IPA, Little Bear. Little Bear helped us see the writing on the wall, that had probably been there all along: light-bodied, low-IBU IPA is here to stay. Since then we’ve seen even our lovely Little Bear get bested by our lightest, fruit forward IPA to date, Flying Cat. Flying Cat is a beautiful single hop Citra IPA with a just a touch of sweetness and very low IBU. It’s the beer we’re in love with right now and it looks like we’re not alone.
Smog City Brewing (Laurie Porter)
Each of our 3 locations is pretty unique in terms of what people like to drink most. Given our diverse line-up of styles we offer at all times we are able to accommodate the different tastes of each set of customers. Below is an answer to your question for each of our spaces.
Smog City Brewing Co. Torrance Taproom and Brewery: Summer Lager Series
Our main taproom/production brewery has 18 beers on at any given time and are often rotating among a wide range of beer styles, so when looking at what is the most popular beer we have, it is hard to nail down just one. However, over the summer we challenged our brewers to create a series of flawless lagers and that set of beers is probably the most popular beers in the same style that we have. Making a great lager is super challenging since there is no room to mask flaws with a big hop bite or flavor elements, but our brewers managed to do it 6 times this past summer and they were incredibly well-received. These beers are exceedingly popular and appealed to a wide range of beer drinkers. As you know, there is technical brewing expertise that goes into brewing these lagers makes them unique and appealing to craft beer fanatics, while also being low ABV, easy to drink, refreshing, and fun. We offered them in steins, which people loved, and we are looking forward to next year’s Summer of Lagers.
Smog City West, Torrance: Type-O Positive, Wine Barrel Aged Sour Blonde Ale w/Boysenberries and Lavender, 6%
Smog City West is our newest taproom, located just 5 minutes from our brewery in a popular area of the South Bay. It is an intimate space that focuses on our Wood Cellar series of beers and education around what these beers are all about. As such, our most popular beer over there is Type-O Positive, a wine barrel aged sour blonde ale with boysenberries and lavender. Besides being a stellar beer, I think Type-O Positive has become the most popular beer at Smog City West because our staff loves it, which has in turn made it a customer favorite through sampling and education. This beer is a deep purple color with floral notes and bold, tart berry flavors contrasted with a rounded, soft Chardonnay and oak presence It has a lot going on! However, it all blends together to create a really unique beer that has a broad appeal. Something really fun about Type-O Positive is that it has been particularly popular with our customers that prefer wine over beer, even converting a few of them to Team Craft Beer!
Smog City Steelcraft, Long Beach: Smog City IPA, West Coast Style IPA, 7.3%
The undeniable king of craft beer is IPA and our year-round Smog City IPA is the rockstar over at our shipping container based taproom, Steelcraft Long Beach. This beer is our flagship IPA and a classic West Coast IPA with old school meets new school hops. When we first opened Steelcraft Long Beach 2.5 years ago, the main customer base for this location was still pretty new to craft beer. Our staff has had a lot of fun educating customers and turning them on to all the awesome styles we offer, something we pride ourselves on. Our Smog City IPA has lots of tropical fruit notes with a firm, but balanced hop bite, so it is a great beer to introduce newer craft drinkers to more flavorful brews over a domestic lager. Smog City IPA walks the line between new craft accessibility and ensuring that seasoned hop lovers are extraordinarily happy. Our customers have quickly fallen in love with this beer and it is now many people’s go-to beer when they visit Smog City at Steelcraft. It also goes perfect with DeSano’s pizza and Food Network super stars, WaffleLuv, our fellow vendors at Steelcraft.