Sunday, January 9, 2011

To our Reserve Society: We're Sorry!

Dear Reserve Society Members,

I'd like to sincerely apologize for the very long lines and disorganization of yesterday. Everyone at The Bruery agrees with the sentiments that more should have been done to accommodate the very large crowd.

When I woke up yesterday, I felt like it was going to be a great day for The Bruery. My soon-to-be-born daughter Charlotte hadn't forced my wife into labor, so I was actually going to make it to the largest party we've ever put on. I was up especially early so I could get a head start on the day, and I felt that we were generally well prepared. Then the party started.

While we were planning this event, we expected approximately 1,000 guests after receiving around 1,300 RSVP's. We checked in 997 people, so I'm happy to report this prediction was correct! We chose to have the event at The Phoenix Club because our small brewery can no longer handle the size of these events-- we'd need to have 5 or 6 sessions at this point. As far as check-in goes, we needed a method where multiple people wouldn't be able to check in under the same name, so having multiple lists of members printed out might have resulted in this happening. Using our database to check people in helped avoid this problem, but the process did take longer than it should have. With regard to the amount of beer stations, I felt that with ample room, lines would move more efficiently than they do normally at our brewery, and thought having three separate stations (with the truck station being the equivalent of 4 stations) would be sufficient. In retrospect, I was way off the mark and I feel like beating my head against the wall for not anticipating this. Not to make excuses, but we've all been under a lot of pressure lately with our latest expansion (which will almost double our capacity), and I've been distracted by thoughts of having to take care of another human being.

As we plan for our next big event, our Anniversary party, we are keeping track of everything that needs to change from this event. You can expect to see paper tickets for any event with more than 400 attendees. We will refine our estimates to determine how many beer stations and bartenders we'll require (one station per 100 guests for a 3 hour event). While I think our draft truck is remarkably cool, it didn't work out to be the equivalent of 4 stations that I was anticipating. We'll also have to work with our friends who run these fantastic food trucks to see what can be done on their end to speed the process. We'd love to get Beachwood BBQ back as well!

We will attempt to make this up to you throughout the year and I hope we can quickly convince you that you made a great choice by being a Reserve Society member. For starters, one project we're working on that will start in February is having more frequent Reserve Society gatherings. These will take place on a Saturday starting around noon and finishing around 3:30 PM before our tasting room opens to the general public. We might feature beers from our Nano series, pull a special keg from the archive, and have some sort of educational component. We'll have some sort of delicious food available, and we'll encourage you to bring bottles to share if you're so inclined. Since these events will happen at our brewery, we will have to limit the number of attendees. I anticipate receiving a good amount of flack from those who aren't able to RSVP in time! Oh well, they'll be fun events and they'll happen regularly. Perhaps we can call them "Clusterfork" parties?

We also have a lot of great beers in the pipeline that I hope you'll enjoy! Everyone at The Bruery would like to wish you a safe, healthy, and beer filled 2011!


Patrick Rue

The Bruery


matt said...

The tap estimate was not to far. As everyone realized the lines were getting super long they started getting in line right after they got the beer. Most people in line were drinking beer, which made the lines longer since everyone at the party was in line the whole time. The truck was a big clusterfuck since you could order a beer from the far right side and make your server go to the far left to get it. Sub the truck out for 6 jockey-boxes and you are set.

Then again, it would be good to over-prepare. Just use some volunteers thrown in with employees, they will work for beer, and jockey-boxes are cheap. At least I would do that job for a few bottles of regular Bruery beers.

Really good beers though at the party and I had a lot of fun. However, I understand some who came from great distances may be disappointed.

Ed said...

OK, constructive comments (hopefully)
1) No one checked to see if we were with The Bruery when entering the parking lot, so who knows how many cars were parking there that shouldn't have. The guards asked no questions about us. Hence we had to park far away.

2) We saw ONE sign in front of the building where to go for the event, then no others until almost into the event, not good.

3) There should be more signs letting you know which line you are in and for what kind of beers, besdies the ones just behind where they were serving. And they were not organized, as I stated, we didn't even know which line we were in several times.

4) Food tickets: PLEASE let us use all 4 tixs at one truck, because 45 minutes for one taco then 45 minutes in another line for one cream puff does not cut it. If we want 4 grilled cheese sandwhiches or 4 tacos, so be it.

5) With respects to the lines, it did suck, because whomever you came with you had to split up in order to get anything accomplished, which defeats the purpose of talking beers, and how they taste, etc.

6) And this one really upset myself as well as others. I stood in line for 57 minutes to get a taste of Chocolate Rain, but found out after about 40 minutes they were out. NO ONE came thru and announced this. That would have been most helpful.

7) The speakers for the DJ were terrible sounding (I know, I am a professional sound engineer) and could have been better. Heck , I could have provided you better speakers. But also, that stage could have been used to direct people, make announcements (like Chocolate Rain is out) or things like that.

Did not mean to be negative, but 3 hours, only 3 tastings and ONE taco, ugh!!
Ok, for the moment thats all I have, but hopefully it all makes sense and will help for future events.

Nimai said...

First off, congrats Patrick on the new addition, very cool. Congrats again on the continued success of your business.

As for the party, I for one had a good time, used 3 food tickets (taco, grilled cheese, and a cream puff) and tasted all that I wanted to try, and had probably a dozen tasters.

I did get there at noon, and had a large group to divide an conquer, which helped.

I think if they event had been two sessions, it would been much smoother, or about twice the amount of stations.

I liked the trucks, but the way last years was catered, and the anniversary parties as well, made things move quicker at those events, with food already prepared, and you just grab and go, or they scooped and you go.

Ordering at the trucks, and then waiting with that many people, and just 3 hours led to delays at the food trucks, then people opting for beer instead of food, making those lines longer as well.

I do not, for one, in anyway regret joining this society, it is worth evey penny. I raise my glass to the Bruery, their beers, and their genuine focus on customer service. Looking forward to the things to come. Happy New year

Mitch said...

First of all, I greatly appreciate the Bruery's goal of rewarding their dedicated following and all the efforts the Bruery is putting in to achieve that.

But for me, it was a big disappointment to travel down from San Francisco just to stand in line all afternoon. It costs members from out of town a significant amount of money, time, and effort just to get there. The cost-effectiveness of that decision was obliterated on Saturday for me, and even more for those who came from further places.

Although I did eventually get some food and a little really good beer, as for everyone, it was far short of the amounts expected. What I disliked most is that the lines really limited social interaction and stymied the festival atmosphere. People should be interacting about the beer and enjoying the time, not fretting and grousing about the event.

I SUGGEST YOU HIRE AN EVENT PLANNER. Because you are under expansionary stress etc., you really could use some advice. For example, how lucky were we that it wasn't raining cats and dogs!!! The Phoenix Club would only have worked in inclement weather if everyone was herded inside into TSA airport style-lines. How much fun that would have been!

As for the food trucks, toss that idea. It makes no sense to individually hand prepare food in real-time for 1,000 people. The lines for food were as long as for the beer and for very similar reasons.

The days of a few aficionados getting together at the little Bruery are gone, and you need a new plan. The BA festivals held in the Cyclorama come to mind-with several sessions of which at least one is limited to 650 tickets, they are similarly scaled indoor events, and they work pretty well and smoothly. It is sobering to see that the RS events have evolved to that scale.

I still love The Bruery and the RS and I am confident that you'll work this out for the better in the future.
I do appreciate the growler bag, t-shirt, and the allocations, and of course all you are doing for craft beer and food. The Provisions is wonderful and reflects The Bruery's values which are spot-on. Spending some time there in the evening over some flights helped relieve the pain.

Mitch said...

P.S. Out-of-towners will not be able to participate easily in the clusterforck idea. A few big parties is a better accommodation. So please consider the geographic parity of RS membership benefits.

Ed said...

Another thing. One station only filled up the glass 1/2 way, while another to the top, is there a reason for that?
It was pretty sad that when I was getting my FIRST beer the server did not even need to take my wrist tag, as he told me I would never get around to 10 tastings. I believe the Bruery owes me a couple of tastings, anyone?