In 2008, Pyramid Breweries renamed their Hefeweizen beer – a company staple since it was introduced in 1993 – to Haywire. After nearly three years with the new name, they have finally admitted they hefe’d up. “Moving away from the tradition that made us great was a mistake,” said Ryan Daley, brand manager for Pyramid. The change was made to differentiate Pyramid from other Hefeweizen brands on the shelves. While the beer in the bottle remained unchanged from the original 1993 recipe, the name change adversely affected sales.
Founded in 1984 in Kalama WA, Pyramid Breweries began as Hart Brewing Co. and brewed some of the country’s first microbrews. In 1996, the company was renamed Pyramid, after Hart’s flagship brand of Pyramid Ales. Pyramid Breweries was acquired by Independent Brewers United in 2008, which was acquired by North American Breweries, headquartered in Rochester, NY, in 2010. Pyramid operates alehouses in Portland, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Sacramento, and Seattle.
Seattle’s Pyramid Alehouse, popular thanks to its location next to Safeco Field, will begin brewing beer again onsite later this year. They haven’t brewed at that location since 2008, when it was more or less mothballed due to its relatively small, 15-barrel capacity. Beer is now brewed at the company’s facilities in Portland and Berkeley. Lead brewer Ryan Pappe, sees the smaller capacity at the Seattle brewery as a positive. He’s enthusiastic about the possibility for more experimentation with ingredients like dry hops and chocolate, and barrel aging. He brews at the company’s Portland brewery, which has a capacity of 160 barrels. They brew half batches of some of Pyramid’s seasonal beers in Portland, but as Pappe said, “even a half batch is a lot of beer.”
In preparation for renewed brewing in Seattle, Pyramid has posted a job for an Alehouse Brewer. In addition to brewing, the Seattle brewer will be a brand “Alebassador,” or ambassador, for the community. Prospective applicants need the ability to work a flexible schedule, because “making beer is not a 9-5 sort of thing.”
Looking ahead to 2012, Pyramid is hoping to add more seasonal beers, like Snowcap Ale, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of its creation this year. The company also plans to add more variety to its variety packs, and continue to offer alehouse exclusives like its Ignition Series. Beers in the Ignition Series include Discord, a dark IPA available August through October, and Live Wire, an Imperial Hefeweizen, available at the Seattle alehouse now.