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Beer Baron: Young Blood launches new Saturday Beer Co. brand

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Saturday Beer Co.

The relaxing vibes of Saturday are coming to a beer brand near you, courtesy of Young Blood Beer Co.

A pool party. Going to the farmers market. Sitting in lawn chairs. Heck, even mowing the lawn has its charms.

The relaxing vibes of Saturday are coming to a beer brand near you, courtesy of Young Blood Beer Co.

Saturday Beer Co. is launching next week with four beers — all approachable American takes on classic styles — and at four beers the portfolio will remain, at least for the foreseeable future.

That permanence, reliability and simplicity is a direct contrast to the controlled chaos that has been Young Blood’s beer program since it opened in May 2020, two months into the pandemic. In those two-plus years, co-founder and head brewer Kyle Gregorash has kicked out an astounding 340-plus beers, according to Untappd. Only a handful of them have been repeat brews.

Churning that many beers satisfies the modern beer consumer who is constantly seeking new things, of course, but to be honest it makes me a little tired, especially with a $15 four-pack price and knowing next to nothing about the beer. Many retail, hospitality and distribution partners are excited about the brewery but don’t want something so transient.

For all its success so far — Young Blood has made very good beer, grown quickly, opened a roomy production brewery and last month announced a second taproom — its owners know all of this. And they believe Saturday is the antidote to all of it. “We want it to be unfussy, uncomplicated,” said co-founder Tom Dufek. “Young Blood is zany, it’s all over the place — it’s probably a more complicated brand than it needs to be. This is meant to be the opposite of that.”

The plan Gregorash, Dufek and co-founder Billy Duplanty drew up for Young Blood never included the kind of distribution they’re doing now.

“We were in survival mode for the first years,” Dufek said, and because of COVID-19, “we’ve really very quickly figured out where the opportunities were. It also showed us that there was a whole segment of the market that we weren’t hitting. Hence, Saturday.”

Opportunities have abounded in Young Blood’s first two years. The new production brewery on the Southeast Side began brewing in November and received four new tanks last month pushing potential production up to 7,000 barrels in its space. The new taproom in the market-style Northside development in the East Side’s Eken Park neighborhood is expected to open in November.

Saturday, which will hit shelves mid-month, will feature four beers:

Lawn Lines

  • , a year-round hazy IPA dry-hopped with Mosaic and Apollo. At 6%, Lawn Lines is the highest ABV of Saturday’s mostly sessionable portfolio.

Special Pilsner

  • , described by Duplanty as a clean, American take on the classic European style. Like all Young Blood and Saturday beers, it will be unfiltered, a slight twist on the style.

Impromptu Pool Party

  • , an American wheat ale that, reading between the lines of my conversation with Dufek and Duplanty, is looking to capture fans of Bell’s Oberon.

Farmers Market

  • , a rotating seasonal fruited sour markedly less intense than Gregorash’s heavily fruited beers Young Blood fans love. The initial fall release will feature apple, pear and cinnamon, and while Dufek cautioned that future releases may tweak, the plan right now is for winter to feature peach and strawberry, spring pineapple and guava and next summer raspberry, mango and hibiscus.

All Saturday’s beers will be in six-packs of 12-ounce cans (vs. Young Blood’s tallboy four-packs) priced around $10 (vs. Young Blood’s $14-$16). “It is going to be our more economical brand, and with the way things are right now, everyone’s gripping their pocketbooks a little tighter,” Duplanty said.

The Young Blood crew is excited about the retro can design and new vibe in a company that might be a little obsessed with vibes. The beer itself, the names (fun but toned down from the absurdity of Young Blood’s portfolio), the lawn chair graphic, the throwback logotype — it all adds up to “boring beer for cool people,” Dufek said, or “beer to drink with your dad,” Duplanty adds.

They believe that, in time, Saturday can add perhaps 2,000 barrels to the company’s annual production — it made 1,400 barrels in 2021 and is on track for about 2,200 this year — without stepping anywhere close to Young Blood’s toes.

“We actually want to go after that everyday drinker that we’re really not hitting right now,” Dufek said. “It fits nicely within what we’re doing as a complement. We think that Young Blood has a really distinct persona, its own personality.”

Got a beer you’d like the Beer Baron or Draft Queen to pop the cap on? Contact Chris Drosner at chrisdrosner@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @WIbeerbaron. Contact Katie Herrera at cellaredkatie@gmail.com or on Twitter @CellaredKatie.

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