Some business segments crave stability and loathe change. The craft beer brewing in Boulder County industry is not one of those.
Heavy competition forces innovation, which leads to regular turnover for brewers' product lineups. Old favorites are retired and new brews take their places on taps and liquor store shelves.
Boulder's Avery Brewing Co. has embraced this philosophy of change, retiring or replacing seven brews since late 2016 with three more to be discontinued in the coming months. That turnover accounts for about a third of the Avery's overall lineup of beers.
"We have always been very experimental and willing try new things," Avery's marketing manager Joe Osborne said.
But in order to try something new, you often have to let go of something old.
Over the past year or so, the brewery has said farewell to the beloved Demons of Ale series — which included The Beast, Samael's Ale, Mephistopheles — along with The Czar, The Kaiser, Dugana, and Salvation. By May, Avery plans to phase out Joe's Pils, Raja Double IPA, and Perzik Saison.
Just because a beer is well-known or was once very popular, doesn't necessarily mean it is a top-seller, Osborne said.
"You definitely have some loyalists who always want some of these (discontinued beers) on hand," he said. "But unfortunately there weren't enough of those loyalists" to keep brewing certain brands.
Bart Watson, chief economist at the Boulder-based Brewers Association, said he has noticed an industry-wide increase in product lineup turnover in recent years.
"Breweries feel like they need more innovation than ever ... and consumer preferences are always changing," he said.
More and more, breweries are deciding to diversify their product line to keep up with those preferences, but there is a limit to the number of offerings a brewery can produce, Watson said.
Discontinuing a brand in order to introduce a new one is "a complicated choice," he said. "But at the end of the day, you only have so much capacity at your brewery, attention from sales (representatives), and slots on store shelves."
While sales are the main factor in most decisions to jettison a brand, there are occasionally other considerations such as availability of specialty ingredients, Watson said.
When a brewery decides to shift gears away from known commodities, "you never see more love for a brand than when it gets pulled," Watson said.
Osborne said Avery staff got emails with "a few 'how dare yous' and sad faces" following its decisions to retire beers.
Derek Ridge, beer manager at Hazel's Beverage World in Boulder, said sometimes customers are "thrown for a loop" when an old standby disappears from shelves.
But, he added, it's often a positive thing for brewers to phase out and replace offerings because "it kind of keeps the buzz and excitement going."
Joe Henry, a managing partner at Wyatt's Wet Goods in Longmont agreed.
"Breweries are diversifying beyond the beers that everyone already loves — and anytime there is change, it takes some getting used to," he said. "But in the beer world, the culture has grown to appreciate it and look forward to new (offerings)."
In 2018, Avery's 25th year in operation, Osborne said the brewery is planning to roll out three new beers: Go Play IPA, "a crushable IPA with added electrolytes;" Bug Zapper, "a moderately sour" brew with hints of mint, ginger, and lime; and a yet-to-be-named imperial coconut porter.
While Osborne said the changes "definitely pose a challenge for the sales guys," the company is "leaning in" when in comes to keeping their product line fresh.
And if you're favorite brew has been retired, don't give up hope on ever tasting it again.
"We might decide to resurrect (discontinued brands) in the future," Osborne said. "You never know."