For most 20-somethings, a Berghoff beer is something your dad or even your granddad might have drank.
The historic Chicago brand has been making beer since 1887, and after a heyday in the 1990s, it's fallen off most young people's radars. Counterintuitively, owners say that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"It’s a grandpa-style brand, and there aren’t many of these left," said Ben Minkoff, 25, who, along with his family, owns Berghoff Brewing Inc. "It's becoming kind of a hip thing, these grandpa-style brands."
Beyond Berghoff's nostalgic appeal and good name recognition, Minkoff acknowledges as a craft beer drinker himself that the brand needed a makeover.
Beginning in June, Berghoff will roll out new recipes and packaging across the Midwest, including the debut of new styles lsuch as Solstice wit, Straight Up hefeweizen and Dortwunder lager.
"I grew up on Berghoff beer and I’ve always enjoyed it, but we have to evolve with the times," Minkoff said. "My taste is for craft beer, and I want us to make something that I want to drink all the time."
While Minkoff said the new beers, which will be made by a contract brewery in Wisconsin, will be fresher and more appealing to craft beer drinkers' palates, he also wants to maintain the brewery's sense of tradition.
"We’re not going to have triple-hopped beers or 120-minute IPAs. We’re going to have our own unique style while keeping true to our roots of making American- and German-style, sessionable beers," he said.
One deviation will be the Uberbier Series, a limited line of special releases that will debut with the Germaniac extra pale ale, a riff on the once-outlawed style of beer called kottbusser. These releases are especially designed to catch the eye of craft beer drinkers who may have written off the Berghoff brand.
"You see a lot of beers come and go, but we’ve survived everything," Minkoff said. "I think our name is still very relevant and holds memories for people. Berghoff is still very much a Chicago brand."
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