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Cider Commitment

May 11, 2016

Good marketing is not lost on me. In fact, I’m highly susceptible to its charms. Put something in elegant packaging, bump up the price, and make it hard to get. That’s the magic formula.

Do that and I’ll want to buy it.

Steve Jobs knew this. Apple followed the game plan. So does the craft beer world. The art on some of those beer cans is fantastic. But this works for everything from Ashton cigars to Vera Wang dresses.

However, this is just one of many magic formulas. There are a bunch of effective tactics marketers can choose from. There’s the limited time offer, consumer loyalty programs, branded merchandise, VIP status, private events, and more.

When I first heard about the 26er program at Nine Pin Cider, I thought the marketing promotion was brilliant and I was drawn into it like a moth into the flame.

I’ve got four months and the first eight ciders under my belt. So how am I feeling?

First let’s back up a moment for those who might not be familiar with Nine Pin or the 26er promotion. Well, Nine Pin is our local cidery. They primarily make a light and juicy sparkling cider from New York apples. My favorite variations have been the ones with some added flavoring that provided the juice with more complexity and depth. Their ginger is my top pick, but I do want to revisit the one made with Belgian yeast.

One thing that sets the Nine Pin team apart from other cider makes is that they do interesting stuff with their ciders and pursue flights of fancy by adding in all kinds of ingredients, exploring new flavor combinations, and attempting different production techniques.

So this 26er program helped to leverage some of the cidery’s innovation. Nine Pin decided to put out a new cider every two weeks for an entire year. And handed out punch cards. If you are able to fill the card, by buying a glass of all 26 ciders, you are entitled to an incredible list of prizes:

-Personalized Nine Pin 26er I.D. Badge
-Custom 12oz Nine Pin glass for drinking in the tasting room
-Happy Hour pricing in the tasting room for life
-Limited 26er T-shirt
-Exclusive 26er final party
-Early access to limited bottle releases

Thankfully, I haven’t missed one yet. Although I hear a rumor about a future event with past ciders, so that those who may have started late can get a fair shake at a full card.

But I have to say, it’s starting to feel like a burden.

Maybe it would be different if I were able to make the release date every other Wednesday at Nine Pin. But I can’t. Instead, I find my way over to Slidin’ Dirty in Troy and pick up my bi-monthly glass of cider there.

Pat and I are getting to know each other a lot better. He’s the bar manager there. Seriously, Slidin’ Dirty now owns the lion’s share of my time spent out at bars. I’m there twice a month. You know where else I am twice a month? Pretty much nowhere. Okay. Maybe Westmere Beverage. But I try to spread out my experiences as widely as I can.

The 26er program is all about focussing in on drinking one producer from a handful of locations. The Capital City Gastropub also carries a 26er draft line and one of these days I’ll make it over there too.

But the flavors haven’t been wowing me overall. The first one was good with crab apple and sour cherries. The sourness of the cherries and bitter tannins from the crab apples really helped to give this juice structure.

The Bourbon Barrel Aged one was also quite good thanks to the tannins from the wood. Also the vanilla beans were fun and played off the wood notes from the barrel. This was well put together and considered. A job well done.

But recently, we’ve had two dodgy flavors in a row, earl grey tea and blueberry peach cobbler.

I’m hoping against hope that this new one knocks it out of the park, because I really feel like the 26er program needs a win right now. Fortunately, I’ve had one of Nine Pin’s raspberry ciders in the past and it was wonderful. So full of fruit. I expected to hate the pink drink, but it was incredibly bright and fresh, bursting with the true flavor of fresh berries.

You want to know the worst part? I’m in it to win it. It doesn’t really matter how many lackluster ciders get put up, I’m going to try them all. Because that’s just the kind of stubborn that I am.

Unless it turns out that I’m not. Because I am doing a bunch of traveling over the next several weeks. And I could also see myself missing one of these and having four months or more of “work” go down the tubes.

Part of me wants to pull the plug early, and stop throwing good money after this crazy marketing scheme. But that would feel like quitting. And one thing I don’t do is quit, dammit. Forget, sure. But quit? Never.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2016 11:09 am

    I heard the blueberry peach cobbler was amazing! Drat.

  2. David Nardolillo permalink
    May 11, 2016 7:51 pm

    I also pulled the plug on filling out the card after not being jazzed by a few of the varieties. It might just be that I have a low appetite for riffs on their perfectly good original cider, although I really liked the dry hopped limited release a while back. Still, the marketing effort should be applauded and it might be a cheap way to get some feedback before investing in a larger production run.

  3. albanylandlord permalink
    May 13, 2016 1:36 am

    I suggest bailing out. Otherwise it sounds like, from your own words, You will end up missing out on a number of real experiences to check the final box on what seems suspiciously like work.

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