One Month in the Past
Wow! I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and get a bit of a recap written down after our First Month of being open & our Opening Day weekend.
Where to start? Well…let’s look at the beer first. Many of you who have been following along were probably at our place on the opening weekend. Given all the work we had put into the place while waiting for the final Federal License approval, once we got it we started brewing like mad to make sure we had tasty beer for everyone to try on opening day. We had an aggressive brewing schedule to get ready for doors open. On our Opening Day we aimed for (and achieved) having 4 beers on tap, and then had additional beers released the following days as we welcomed everyone to our brand-new space.
For those that remember, we opened on a 3-Day weekend on MLK weekend. Doors opened at 11am – though it seems that we had a few people start working their way in a few minutes early. On Tap they found our 4-beers that we had planned for that Saturday release: A UK Session Pale Ale, our Scottish Export, an Irish Red, and a Brown Porter.
On that opening day, WOW were we swamped with people. Almost right off the bat we ran our of our sample platters, and quickly behind that we ran short on the sample glassware itself. In hindsight, I guess we should have planned a bit better for that, but at a certain point as a business you have to make the tradeoff of when too many 4oz sample glassware is enough for normal functioning vs. what you might deal with the first few days. I think we erred a bit too much towards (what we thought would be) the normal functioning amount and not having enough to handle that opening load. As we dealt with the shortage of sample glassware we turned to our smaller “Half-Pint” 10oz glassware to fill in some of the demand by only filling about halfway. It was at best a ‘Band-Aid’ and not a true solution. We have since added a bit more sample glassware to our supply so we have more to handle brief heavy requests like we had opening day.
That first day we heard some complaints that we should have had more selection, and not just 4 beers. In a hindsight/perfect world we agree that we should have had at least one more, if not two. We were so excited to finally be allowed to start brewing in earnest that we wanted to get open as quickly as made sense. Over that Opening Weekend we did release a new/additional beer each day so that by the following Tuesday we had 6 beers on tap, but we probably would have been better suited to open with 6 and grow from there. One of the interesting items on the beer: We expected to help educate people on was what our style of beers are and what we were focusing on as a brewery, but what we didn’t anticipate was the extent we would be doing this. We had many people comment on our lower ABV (Alcohol by Volume, or alcohol %) and that they were looking for something stronger. Our explanation of traditional UK-style session beers seemed to impart enough of an explanation for some, and yet for others it wasn’t quite enough. One comment we heard a ton was that “We can get as much alcohol in Grocery-Store beers” was exactly true from a strict ABV standpoint, and yet those lower ABV beers of ours would have way more flavor than what you’d find in a typical Grocery-Store beer. We’ve taken this comment to heart as a challenge to educate our customers a bit more on what we’re trying to do and what kind of full-flavor they can expect from our products, and yet still have a lower ABV for our ‘Session’ beers.
One other item/issue we heard from customers on our Opening Day was that we needed more seating in the taproom. We couldn’t agree more! That day was a total zoo in the best possible way. Our taproom, in the current state, has seats for about 45 people – but can handle a bit more when we have people standing around. It was a bit crowded on our Opening Weekend, and we tried our best to get to everyone who came out that weekend! If we didn’t do as well as we had hoped, I do want to apologize! The response form the local community was so great that weekend, and we didn’t expect to have THAT many people coming out to visit us! As we’ve been able to describe to customers in the following days from Opening – we do have plans to work with the Town of Castle Rock on getting a patio area setup this Spring/Summer which will almost double our seating capacity once fully completed. We realize that this extension won’t always fully fix our seating ability on super-busy nights, but we know it will go a long ways!