Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Storz Brewing Comeback - A Good Thing?

I’m sure you’ve heard by now about the re-emergence of the Storz brand of beer in Omaha. There has been article after article in the local papers, and social media has been abuzz with the excitement of the news of a lost brand returning to production. Yet, my enthusiasm wanes.

You see, back in the 90s the craft beer scene was growing rapidly and people were taking notice of this new, thriving market segment. What began as homebrewers taking their passion for the hobby to a new level became a money-making venture for many an entrepreneur who didn’t necessarily have a love for craft beer. As a result, a lot of bad beer was made under the guise of “microbreweries” and the bubble ended up popping.

The return of Storz to Omaha strikes me as a situation that could possibly be similar to the craft beer boom of the 90s. The beer scene in Nebraska is doing very well and new breweries are opening left and right. Suddenly a family with ties to a defunct nostalgic local beer brand decides to create a comeback.

Now, at first I thought that this was very smart of the Storz family. Bring back an old lager recipe, package it with retro styling, and capitalize on the resurgence in popularity of brands like PBR, Hamms, and the like. Yet, it’s been reported that they will be producing “a lager, a wheat beer, a pale ale, and an amber ale.” None of which are using the original Storz recipe (as far as I know). Hopefully, the beer will be good, but I wonder if it won’t be analogous to when Dodge brought the Charger back as a four-door sedan. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the new model, but it’s no Charger!

Another straw for the proverbial camel’s back – A twitter account under the name of Deborah Storz (@djstorz) has been making some noise with tweets like these: 
#Tom Markel is NOT #Gottlieb Storz's greatgrandson and does NOT speak on behalf of MY greatgrandfather and MY side of the #Storz family.
@Jean_Stothert, My brother, Steve Storz, and I are NOT involved in this in any way and were quite surprised by all the media hoopla today.
@TheBeerTrap. I'm one of the 3 great-grandchildren of Gottlieb Storz who bears the Storz surname and was completely blindsided by all this.
@WOWT6News Please stop saying "Storz family" (it's the Markel family). We have nothing to do with this. I am Gottlieb's greatgranddaughter
 Like the sands of the hourglass…

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've kinda felt the same way, and with the posting of those tweet that do not support what's going on makes me think twice...

Anonymous said...

As far as the beer goes it should be just fine. The gents at Blue Blood are currently brewing it. Isn't that better than them going to cold springs with the idea? As far as the recipes go, if the beer is good what difference does that make? I disagree with your analogy. People remember what the original Charger was it was two doors and fast... they also had the Challenger which was smaller, two doors and fast. I think Dodge knew what they were doing when they brought both back, each being unique. We don't have any FRESH cans of Storz beer hanging around to compare the new Storz beer to. The beer hasn't been around for 40+ years... no one remembers the taste exactly. They remember the feeling of pride in drinking a locally crafted beer.

There will always be backlash on anything if someone is left out of the loop. It seems to me that this Deb Storz might possibly have been left out of the loop and she wants her cut...

Travis said...

I'll reserve judgement on the beer until I get a chance to taste it. I'm not so much worried about the beer quality as I am about the ethos of those driving the re-creation of the brand. This just smells to me of people trying to make a buck off the growing craft beer segment rather than people reviving an old brand out of passion for beer and that brand. The fact that they might be stretching the truth of their relationship with the founder of Storz only supports my suspicion.

I truly hope I'm wrong! I've been thinking for a long while how great it would be for a craft beer establishment to take over the old Rick's Boatyard property!

As for my Charger analogy. I think it works, but like all analogies, it's certainly not perfect.

Richard Stueven said...

I've been saying the same things, Travis. We know that Blue Blood's beer will be fine, but although I wish the new Storz well, I'm skeptical about their business model.

Tom said...

I never ate at Rick's, did make a brief visit once. That location is odd and was confusing to get to and from. I'll be amazed if anything is very successful in that location without additional development in the area.

I honestly think it would be easier to launch a new craft beer brand than to sell craft beer under what I would consider a 'discount' brand name. I was shocked that they won't be using the old recipe.

As for the family fights, I love watching them from afar. Rights to a brand have value and it is likely that the holder of those rights (the ones launching the brand I'd assume) already bought out the other side of the family. Sorry, you sold your ticket, pissed off grandpa, or for whatever reason forfeited your rights to a family brand. Maybe that side of the family got the recipe and the other got the brand. who knows. Deb should accept it and move on. Her last name and any relation to GoMadLib are unrelated to the brand at this time.

I've got confidence Blue Blood will do good work! I'll taste the Storz beers at Great Nebraska Beer Fest or Extreme Beerfest some year.

Eric said...

Agree with those above that with blue blood doing the brewing, the beer will be good. That said I would love to see them at least having the original recipe in the line up for nostalgia's sake.
As for the family stuff; did a little googling tonight and came up the the following website. http://storz.hostcatholic.com/?page_id=241.
Per their "journey" page, only one of the markels (john) is a storz descendant (great-grandson of gottlieb). His cousin Tom is not related to the storz family, so that's why Deb is saying that the Markel family is behind this, not the Storz family. It is curious that on the about us page (http://storz.hostcatholic.com/?page_id=256), they contradict themselves and state that both John and Tom are grandsons of Gottlieb.
I'll be watching from afar with Tom!

Anonymous said...

Wow, the STORZ side of the family was wondering when someone would start to pick up on this. We were totally blindsided (gobsmacked even!) by the announcement. Our late father, Robert Hart Storz, was the EVP of the Storz Brewing Company until it was sold in 1966 and our late uncle Art Storz, Jr headed up the Advertising department. We're not sure they would approve of how it's all being handled from a branding standpoint.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the STORZ side of the family was wondering when someone would start to pick up on this. We were totally blindsided (gobsmacked even!) by the announcement. Our late father, Robert Hart Storz, was the EVP of the Storz Brewing Company until it was sold in 1966 and our late uncle Art Storz, Jr headed up the Advertising department. We're not sure they would approve of how it's all being handled from a branding standpoint and marketing standpoint but are pretty sure they would both be delighted to hear the Storz name is back in some shape or form. Sorry to disappoint the speculators, but neither the Markel nor the Storz side of the family ever owned the brand OR the formula. The city of Omaha is apparently provided some funding for the restaurant part, as it is part of the redevelopment area. Tastes in beer have clearly changed since 1966 when the Storz Brewing Company was sold. It will be interesting to see what a new generation of beer drinkers weaned on craft beers think of the new incarnation of Storz.

Eric said...

Tried some to the "Triumph" at St Stan's. Solid American lager, good flavor and nicely balanced. The first good ol' boy in line proclaimed that it was just as he remembered. Was fun standing in line with them as we waited for the tapping, while they reminisced about their storz memories they shared with their fathers and grandfathers.

John said...

Why even call it Storz if it has no history to the original brewery. These people are just playing off the name and nothing else.

The beer may be fine but obviously Blue Blood has extra capacity. So what happens if they run out of the capacity. Is Blue Blood going to turn into a contract brewer then? Why would a local brewer make this beer? Makes no business sense unless Blue Blood has given up making their own beer.

For Storz to say 160,000 cases(in the press release) of production in a year is a joke. That is about 12,000 barrels of beer and no local brewer is anywhere close to that. The two largest local breweries combined don't even make that much.

This whole idea is very strange. Why support anyone with this shady story? I hope the truth gets out.

I will continue to drink local especially the ones that make their own beer and work hard like Empyrean, Lucky Bucket, Nebraska Brewing, Thunderhead, Spilker, and Zipline.

I don't consider Storz local if they don't own anything and have no brewer. They are no different than PBR. A marketing company that contract brews.

Eric said...

John,
With brewing systems, it's not significantly more expensive to significantly increase capacity. Say a 10 barrel system is $250,000; a 20 barrel system may only be $300,000. So Blue Blood may have spent a little extra money on a system that they could grow into. In the short term they have extra capacity that is sitting there. Contract brewing these beers for Storz allows them to bring in additional funds while they build their brand. At the point they need that capacity for their own beer, they can make the decision to expand and keep brewing for Storz as well, or tell them to find a new brewer.
The contract model is great for a small start-up brewery- it allows them to build the brand before spending a substantial amount of money on a lease and the brewing system itself. Lucky Bucket did a similar thing (though perhaps it was an alternating proprietorship) down at Schillingbridge when they started up.
I’m certainly not saying that “New Storz” will take the same route and have their own brewery in a couple years; it would actually surprise me given the various sides to the story discussed here. But think of all the guys that are BMC drinkers that will pick up a Storz out of nostalgia; some will discover that they enjoy a fuller flavor and then be willing to try beers from other breweries that they wouldn’t have otherwise. As long as they keep putting good beer out there (no matter who brews it), I believe they will be helping the beer community as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Eric,
I agree with you but this isn't even close to what Lucky Bucket did.

Storz is a marketing company not a brewer.

They have very little skin in the game.

They don't have a brewer or even run their own restaurant.

Lucky Bucket situation was more of a lease brewing set up. They brewers their own beer and recipes on Schilling's equipment.

Which owner or employee of Storz has any brewery experience? They are playing off the name and nothing else.

I see this as a ploy to deceive the public as a family brewer. To me this is no different than Blue Moon or any other brewer pretending to be something they are not

Just my opinion. Everyone is intitled to their own.