Thursday, September 2, 2010

Black Tuesday-- Apology and More Details

I apologize to everyone who wanted tickets to Black Tuesday and weren't able to get them. I hope you understand we are a small brewery that is just over two years old, and a release like this is something an organization of our size struggles to get its arms around. In addition, we've been consumed lately with opening a new retail store, brewing at capacity, and facing all of the challenges of being a recent startup.

There were 250 tickets available, and we believe around 1,250 people trying to get them. If we had executed perfectly, there would still be unhappy people. We do aim to execute perfectly, and given the circumstances I'm happy with how things went. After hearing from our customers on how it went for them, I hope you'll trust me in believing we're not patting ourselves on the back.

We created Black Tuesday, but we did not create the demand for it. That's all thanks to you guys. Demand is a wonderful thing, but it kinda sucks for everyone when the demand can't be filled. Perhaps that's part of the allure of Black Tuesday.

Here's a list of issues encountered, and my take on them:

-- eCommerce Site Issues: Our eCommerce supplier certainly has it's weaknesses, but it's the best we can afford. As some have suggested, if we did go through Ticketmaster, the same amount of people who wanted tickets still would not have tickets. I apologize for the several minutes of filling out a form to come short tickets at the end. That does indeed suck, and now we'll all know that tickets aren't guaranteed until the entire transaction is complete. I'm relieved after upgrading to a dedicated eCommerce server that it went as smoothly as it did today. Word of advice to other breweries planning releases similar to Black Tuesday: Do not trust your eCommerce provider when they say it can handle the demand of thousands hitting refresh at the same time. Just go with their most expensive plan for a month and cross your fingers.

--Reserve Society: For those disappointed Reserve Society members, I feel badly about the responses we've received. I felt we were being fair in allocating 2 bottles, plus the 1 bottle you get with your membership. Reserve Society members are guaranteed to receive Black Tuesday. If Reserve Society members were able to purchase the tickets for the release party first, there would only be Reserve Society members going and we'd be taking flack from everyone else. We'll announce details soon for a barrel tasting for Reserve Society members in November, and I can assure you Chocolate Rain and Cherry Chocolate Rain (along with a lot of other unusual stuff) will be pouring. I promise it'll be a fun time.

--Remaining Black Tuesday: We will be releasing more bottles on Oct. 27th through our website. Yes, the same crappy website, so please be prepared to complete your transaction before you find out whether you got any bottles or not. This release will account for the largest amount of bottles sold, but since we haven't yet bottled Black Tuesday, we don't know precisely what the bottle count will be.

As great as all of the attention is around Black Tuesday, it has become a curse as well. Today's events certainly did not enhance our reputation as a craft brewer. Business advisors recommend that we charge according to supply and demand (keep in mind these business advisors don't follow craft beer too closely). I'd hate to sell Black Tuesday for $50, $80, or even $100 a bottle, even though we probably could and still sell out within a reasonable period. I can imagine what nasty eMails I'd be receiving if that was the case. I feel $30 is a lot of money to pay for a bottle of beer, and it gives me a dirty, uncomfortable feeling inside to think of charging more.

For those who eMailed us today (we received hundreds of eMails, mostly from unhappy people), please be patient as Stef and Kevin get back to you. There are a lot of requests we simply cannot accommodate, so I apologize in advance.

I still feel this is a better way of releasing a beer that has so much demand, but as we all know it still doesn't fix that demand / supply problem. It does help that "sitting in a dusty, dark alleyway beerless and wondering if you'll be able to get beer anytime soon" problem.

As the old adage goes, you can't please everyone. In this case, I don't think we pleased the majority. Ulcers develop in my stomach as I imagine what next year will bring.

I am blessed to have such great fans and I hope we have the opportunity to win over those who are currently disappointed with us.

Cheers,
Patrick Rue
The Bruery

15 comments:

Blake said...

Thank you for taking the time to address these issues. I sincerely appreciate it. Good luck in the future.

Angela Arp said...

No need to apologize Patrick! You make an amazing product with an incredible demand. Everyone should realize that you are not physically able to make a bottle for every person who might want one... At least not yet ;-)

Good Luck... still hoping to get a bottle myself!

Grant said...

I think the reserve society comments and complaints were mostly about not having (as from what i read from the comments for i am not RS) special barrel tastings and rs only events throughout the year. Whether or not they got in here was irrelevant though i think it was a launching off point of frustrations. As far as i can tell just from what i remember the only RS event was the initiation, even though the initial emails for the RS did in fact say the advantages were the aforementioned tastings and events.

I think that is a legitimate complaint that keeps getting lost in the Black Tuesday World War. I mean obviously supply and demand means that many wouldn't get tickets... obviously the ticket issue could've been handled better, but that was an emotional reaction that everyone had to being "Black Tuesday 'C' Teased" by the e-commerce site... I am fine with not getting a ticket, it sucks that I don't get to try Chocolate Rain and Cherry Chocolate Rain, but hey... I will eventually.

There are many models set up of good ways to run a "Reserve Society" type club... being that I lived in the temecula area i have been exposed to many wineries that handle it stellarly... obviously they have been around longer, but tips and tricks could be taken from them... (one winery of note that does it the best IMHO is Ponte... check it out)

and ps... ticketmaster sucks! If I were to recommend anything it would be Brown Paper Tickets...

Grant said...

i forgot to add... it is awesome you are adding the barrel tasting in november it is for sure a great step to making RS a great society to be involved with...

sadly i am not involved in RS so i won't be exposed to the good stuff!

good luck in the world war black tuesday! haha...

tim said...

VERY professional Patrick, to something that largely was out of your control in the first place.

I think it gets lost in all this that you guys are only in your second (!) year. And as amazing as Black Tuesday is, and it really IS that good, it seems a sense of being entitled to this beer has crept in. People seem to forget how physically small the brewery still is, and how limited of production is possible.

All i know is, i'll still be coming in and enjoying all the other great beers you guys produce, and keep considering myself lucky enough to have the Bruery as my "home" brewery.

Dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dale said...

I wasn't part of the ticket-buying frenzy so I have no grievance to air. I do want to commend you on your open communication to your customers. Your reputation has certainly been enhanced in my eyes.

koyaanisqatsi said...

What you COULD do - assuming of course that you have sufficient stock of BT on hand - is put additional sessions on sale once the original sessions sell out. It's like the model bands use for concerts - if the original shows sell out, add more dates. If there isn't enough BT this year to be able to do it, you might consider this for NEXT year.

KrissiandMatt said...

My only suggestion - Allow a buyer to purchase two tickets to the release party. My husband and I are planning a California trip around this event (and I've never been to Cali), but only one of us got a ticket for the event. I'm completely bummed about this because, honestly, I was in it more for the party than the six bottles of Black Tuesday.

T.R. said...

RDWHHB...keep on keepin on.

prettysilvergirl said...

I think it is very nice that you guys have taken the time to speak out to your customers. Why not bottle black tuesday in smaller bottles? 375's maybe... thats twice as many bottles right there! Then more people can have it.. plus its hard to handle one solo as it is!

Mike G said...

Sorry to hear you are getting so much flack, and people are whining. You guys are doing a great job with what you have. Keep up the good work.

I will say, smaller format (375ml, 12 oz, or a 22oz) could help, especially on such a big beer.

66 Productions said...

I'm curious to a response on KrissiandMatt's post. I know many instances where couples or groups that had planned on going did not all get tickets, and have even heard in some cases that now neither in the party will be going. Will any allowances be made of extra tickets if it is known in advance that someone is not attending?

Steve said...

You guys did the best you could so don't feel bad. It can't be easy when the demand is as big as it is.

Steve said...

You guys did the best you could so don't feel bad. It can't be easy when the demand is as big as it is.