Pyramid Breweries: “We Hefe’d Up!”

Pyramid is dropping the “Haywire” name from its flagship Hefeweizen. Ryan Daley, Pyramid brand manager said, “Moving away from the tradition that made us great was a mistake.  When we changed our Pyramid Hefeweizen packaging and name, our consumers felt disconnected.  Our beer no longer reflected our history.”

I attended an evening media gathering earlier this week to learn about some changes brewing at Pyramid.  In addition to putting the Haywire moniker out to pasture, expect to see:

·         Changes in packaging for all beers by end of year.   
·         An end to the odd “sports drink” or “lifestyle” styled label designs.

Pyramid isn't the only brewery making changes.  Earlier this year, both Widmer Brothers and Redhook made branding and packaging changes in an attempt to get “back to basics” and reconnect with consumers.  While I’ve been a big fan of Redhook’s use of striking colors and beautifully shaped bottles, I’ve been less impressed by Widmer’s drab cookie-cutter design.  If you look at the entire Widmer lineup in a grocery cooler, the unified look instantly signals the Widmer brand.  However, the similar colors used for some beers (Citra Summer Blonde and Drop Top, for example) make it difficult to quickly differentiate what’s what.  Anyway, back to Pyramid…

Thomas Bleigh, Pyramid Portland Plant Manager & Head Brewer, then told us about the beer:

·         The “Ignition" series of  limited releases has been very successful.
o   Outburst, an Imperial IPA (originally from Ignition), flew off the shelves leaving brewers scrambling to keep up with orders.
o   Discord, a Cascadian Dark Ale, will be shipping in a few weeks.
·         Expect more experimentation and innovation.  18 new beers are in the works for the next year.  Not all of them will be broadly distributed and some will be taproom exclusives.  This will give brewers the freedom to experiment, push the limits, and frankly—freedom to fail.  
·         Changes to seasonal brews.
·         New variety packs.
·         A possible Pyramid & Magic Hat collaboration brew.

They’ve even launched a barrel aging program. Most of these brews are limited in quantity and will be served at festivals.  So it seems Pyramid is open to any and all possibilities—except sour beers.  I had to ask.

What do you think of Pyramid’s beer lineup and packaging?   Do you have any ideas for new Pyramid beers?  Speak up!  They might be listening…

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  1. I am drooling looking at that picture of the Citra Blonde ... Don't think I can get it out here and what you sent me was OUTSTANDING. THAT is a terrific summer treat at the end of a long day.

  2. Glad you like it! I haven't even tried the Citra Summer Blonde yet. It's in the fridge and I plan to write it up soon. Too bad you don't get the Widmer seasonals in the St. Louis area. We're spoiled here.

  3. Any mention of when the actual packaging will change? In looking at your header image, it looks like the name is the only change thus far -- which, in my opinion, seems like such a small and rather inconsequential step in the huge process that will be necessary to rebrand this beer and potentially others. The absence of other necessary package changes (i.e. overall look, feel, and design) signals an apprehension about the choice to change the name. If Pyramid wants to shift consumers' perceptions, some much larger and obvious changes will be required. I think a slow transformation is a waste and a big misstep on behalf of Pyramid's marketing team -- especially if they really believe that they "Hefe'd up." Until those bigger changes are made, I'll be watching with interest to see how this transition is managed.

  4. Brady, they told us the package redesign will rollout late this year. Several design concepts have been created and are being presented to focus groups. We didn't see the designs, but they mentioned a possible return to a "heritage" look.


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