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Alley Kat Brings Back Original Full Moon

The retro Full Moon label

The retro Full Moon label

Over a year ago, Alley Kat shifted the recipe for one of their most respected mainstays. Full Moon Pale Ale defined the style in western Canada for many years. Its fresh, citrusy hop and satisfying caramel malt base offered a great example of what a pale ale can be.

At the time they decided to alter the brand to make it a full-fledged IPA. They explained that sales of Full Moon had flagged and that customers were looking for more of an IPA experience. They upped the bitterness and the alcohol and tweaked the malt base to try to appeal to a population increasingly enamoured by hoppy IPAs.

At the time I wasn’t particularly happy with the decision (read here and here). But I kind of understood where Alley Kat was coming from. I get they wanted to re-invigorate the brand and find a way to sate the growing IPA market.

As it turns out, the strategy didn’t work out as planned. This week they announced that they are returning Full Moon to its pale ale roots. They are going back to the original recipe and, for a short period, even going back to retro labelling as part of the shift.

I haven’t had a chance to chat with the folks at Alley Kat about the announcement and so I am just speculating for the reasons at this point but I suspect the anticipated sales bump never happened. I still saw Full Moon at all its usual locations, so I don’t think sales dropped off. I think they just didn’t get the bump they were hoping for. So, if the new IPA version didn’t help sales AND they had to deal with negative fallout from curmudgeons like me, I can see why they might just return to the original.

Personally I am quite pleased by this turn of events. I continue to feel Full Moon was (and is) an exceptionally good pale ale and made for only a so-so IPA. So while the Alley Kat folks are playfully running with the hashtag #blameneil, I myself prefer to go with a more positive spin and say it takes a wise person to know when they made a mistake.

Long live Full Moon Pale Ale!

4 comments to Alley Kat Brings Back Original Full Moon

  • I had this at the Beer event last weekend.. and it…. wasnt to bad…. I didnt mind it.

  • Owen

    One reason could be pure economics. IPAs have a larger amount of hops and malt than a pale ale by their very nature. Either you must raise the price or you must sell enough more that the increased input costs are offset by increased sales. It seems to me that if no increase in sales occurred, or not enough of one, the margin on the beer must have been reduced.

    The other thing is that even in Alberta’s beer market that trails trends by months or years, the move towards session beers is becoming obvious – see Blindman Session Ale for example (if you can find it, whenever I try to order one it is sold out everywhere I can find it) or any of the ISA beers floating around. Re-launching Full Moon as a classic Pale Ale as the market shifts towards session beers may cause a better sales bump than changing to an IPA ever did.

    New Coke.

  • Brady

    Yup, Owen, the first thought that came to mind when I heard of this was oopsies, “New Full Moon” it is – but shouldn’t they now be calling their retro offering ‘Classic Full Moon’?

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