Grapevine Craft Brewery has changed one of its established products to a completely new beer.
Brewers adjust recipes all the time; this isn’t an alarming fact. The ingredients used are agricultural in nature (including yeast), and seasonal crop variations in flavor, moisture, starch content and so on must be continuously addressed to maintain consistency. New equipment, handling errors and even the weather can be reasons to tweak a recipe. And, sometimes, brewers just adjust to fine-tune the beer for better overall flavor.
What Grapevine did is different, and the first time I recall this happening: They changed their core-brand Monarch filtered wheat ale to what will now be the new Monarch German pilsner — retaining the name but applying it to a new beer. Typically, a brewery that wanted to make such a move would discontinue one and create a new brand for the new beer, but Grapevine had their reasons for this switch.
The original Monarch brewed and sold for years was a German krystalweizen style, a wheat ale that has been filtered for a bright golden clarity. This did prove to be a source of some confusion among consumers not well-versed in beer styles, as it most often was a competing product to the ubiquitous blonde ales. Wheat beer fans found it thin and lacking, comparing it against a robust hefeweizen, and blonde ale consumers looking for ease of drinking were put off by its association as a “wheat beer.”
The new Monarch is a total rebuild. It is a pilsner of the German influence rather than Bohemian, so its Saaz and malt are not as heavy as a Pilsner Urquell, the true Plzeň archetype. At 5.2% ABV, it is a light pale, straw-colored lager with a noticeable but not strong touch of Saaz and a pleasant, dry bitter finish over a very light toasty backbone. It’s an easy, all-day drinker.
However, there is a more interesting reason for the switch instead of creating a completely new brand. Grapevine created the original Monarch as an option for the brewery’s lighter-fare product in their portfolio for that consumer segment, and still does. The change in beer styles rather than rebranding makes perfect sense when viewed as a role that beer plays in Grapevine’s overall marketing, especially with the recent rise in the craft pilsner market.
And let’s be honest: The new Monarch is simply a better beer than the original. As a pilsner fan myself, this is a beer I will buy again.
Availability: Grapevine enjoys widespread availability throughout North Texas. Monarch taps and cans are now available almost everywhere.