Beer O’ the Moment – Southampton Double White

Southampton Publick House
Double White Ale

Plenty to like here. Let’s see…it’s contract brewed by Olde Saratoga for the Southampton Publick House, a venerable Long Island bar and brewpub (and one of the few good things about that damned island, if you ask us). It’s a frickin’ Imperial White (or wit bier), which is kind of awesome. It’s delish. Beer Advocate places it as 7.0% ABV and 89% give it their approval. We picked up a 22 oz. bomber for $4.99.

What the Brewer Says:

Light in color with a refreshing orangey tartness and a
hint of coriander flavor. There is also a detectable alcohol “warming” that is
balanced by a pleasant residual sweetness. og: 16.8 abv: 7.2%

What the Liberal Media Says:

You can find a mass-market beer on any grocery shelf. But
Don Sullivan, owner of Southampton Publick House Brewery, hopes those yearning
for something special might instead reach for his newly released Double White
Ale. Light in color, with a taste that hints of orange and coriander, this
ale already has earned the No. 2 spot for Belgian-style white brews in the
rankings by RateBeer.com, an online community for beer enthusiasts.
A seasonal beer in our portfolio, Sullivan says it once was only available at his
Southampton microbrewery and restaurant (and maybe at a few select bars and
restaurants in the region.) But now Double White Ale is Publick House’s third
bottled brew to be widely available at supermarkets, gourmet shops and beverage
outlets in New York and four other East Coast states. But Sullivan and
brewmaster Phil Markowski have a bigger agenda. With its India Pale Ale due for
release Sept. 15, and another by spring 2006, Publick House aims to be the
nation’s next Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., in other words a runaway success. In 10
years, it hopes for full nationwide distribution.
The experts think Publick House stands a chance – if it navigates the challenges of mass distribution. They are really in the right arena, says Kristen Wolfe Bieler, editor of Beverage Media in New York. The beer industry in general, which is heavily dominated by major brewers (Bud, Coors, etc.), is really struggling. The majors haven’t been as innovative as they need to be to retain drinkers and have failed to release any exciting new products.
The segment of the beer industry that is growing is small, specialty brewers, which means Publick House is competing in the most interesting subcategory of the beer industry. Their taste profile (at least the White Ale) won’t present a difficult trade-up for consumers looking to upgrade from a less expensive beer, Wolfe Bieler estimates.
Back in Southampton, Sullivan says that’s been the case already, at least from his
anecdotal evidence. From out-of-town patrons he hears We wish we could buy this
in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Widespread interest in specialty brews – combined
with the explosion of flavored waters and vodkas, and the variety juices now
available in low-acid, pulp-free, and vitamin enriched options – prompted
Sullivan to bottle his own special beverages for a thirsty marketplace.
With nine-plus years as a microbrewer, Sullivan is convinced he’s established enough
brand awareness and feels comfortable to test the market with bottled
products. While other microbrewers closed during the 1990s, in part because
of over-expansion or poor management, Publick House stayed focused on its
brew. Our mission is to create a unique style line of beer, Sullivan says.
The restaurant is an accessory to the brewery. If the beer is less than great,
you’ll forever lose that consumer. Publick House models itself after European
brewers who are much more in tune with seasonality than Americans, Sullivan
said. It’s the same approach embraced by American chefs. What restaurant doesn’t
talk about fall, with squashes, pies, he adds. Similarly, his brews follow
harvest patterns. In fall, it’s time for Octoberfest Lager and Pumpkin Ale, and
in winter, it’s French Country Christmas Ale. Following the seasons is a back
to basics approach, which Sullivan honors with his 22-ounce bottles that are
styled after those used during World War II. This larger bottle signals to
consumers that the brews are different than traditional beer.
The brews are bottled at a contract brewer in Saratoga in small batch, limited production (Publick House only made 1,000 cases of the Double White Ale, for instance.) Much like a cherished summer fruit, once the inventory is sold, that’s it until next year, Sullivan says. As for its plan to go national, Michael Smith, a
national craft- beer importer in Los Angeles, warns the New Yorkers that they
face a monumental task. National distribution is very daunting, he says.
There is a climate of contraction in the distribution trade. Small distributors
are going out of business or are being bought out by the big
guys.

Copyright 2005 Dolan Media NewswiresProvided by ProQuest
Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

There you have it. We report, you decide.

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~ by bojangles on February 18, 2007.

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