Monday, May 28, 2007

What's in Your Walle... I mean, Fridge?

Hey! The OCB (Ontario Craft Brewers--Beau's is a member) just started up a blog, too. (those guys are always weezing my juice) is my latest post on that blog:

So, a couple days after our Grand Opening at Beau’s, I got an email from Lindsay Porter, who came to the brewery with her fiancé and parents over the weekend and she sent a couple photos she had taken. One of the pics was of our beer in her fridge. I don’t know why, but it was one of my proudest moments.

So I got to thinking…wouldn’t it be cool if we had a photo archive of people’s fridges with OCB beer in ‘em. I’ll start it off with a pic of Lindsay’s fridge.

So blog readers, this is your homework assignment –
  1. buy an OCB beer
  2. put it in your fridge
  3. take a picture
  4. (optional) drink the beer

We'll post the pics up on the interweb and if we get to 100 before the end of June we'll put the names of everyone who sent one in and we'll send that person something cool. I'd like to say a fridge, cause that would be really cool, but I don't know what we can give yet, (because I''m just kind of making this up as I go)...but trust me, it will be really cool.

PS: 50 bonus points to the first person who can tell me where the phrase "weezing the juice" comes from.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Some Bus Tours are less fun…

Well, Beau’s grand opening has come and gone, and it felt like a good time to do a little reflection on the weekend’s events. Three things went very well:

1) Retail shop. We handed out samples in tiny cups after learning from the bus tours last weekend that big cups make for poor attention spans during tours. We had our swag laid out relatively well, although a bit more tweaking will make it more obvious people can buy stuff, and encourage them to do so. The bar-style atmosphere was quite nice and inviting, and the two large windows drew people to stare at the big tanks.

2) Ribbon cutting. We got a front-page article in one local newspaper, inside article in another, a ½ hour radio interview on one of the Ottawa radio stations, and column mentions in both big Ottawa newspapers. The dignitaries showed up on time, and we had a manageable crowd — not so big it became a zoo, but enough so it didn’t look pathetic.

3) Hay wagon rides. I estimate that we brought an additional 300 people to our retail shop by having the hay wagon, and it made for a real nice conversation piece to have 15 people show up on a wagon being pulled by a shiny red 1957 Massey Ferguson tractor.

Two things went “sort-of” well:

1) Pork Roast. The Farmers’ Market made a modest profit on this, although if the weather had held out for the Sunday, it could have been much better.

2) Beer Tents. The beer tent by the brewery did relatively well, considering the poor Sunday weather. By having a pig roast and sound system outside it stayed vibrant and was fun. On the other hand, the beer tent on main street was tucked away in a corner with no entertainment, and had the feel of being ostracized from the event. As a result it was not really worth the effort.

One thing did NOT go well:

Bus Tours. I’ve realized that we tried to make the bus tours too complicated by running the same bus back and forth to Ottawa, doing a morning trip and an evening trip, on both Sat and Sun, and picking up from two locations (one in centre town, one just to the west of Ottawa). Holy crap, was it ever a logistical nightmare. Add to this the fact that the day before the tours, the bus company called to say they were going to double the quoted rate. On top of that, the buses were in poor shape — one actually had to take a busload of my guests back to the depot because of mechanical problems, they showed up late, there was no bathroom on the bus and so on. And of course, it was Beau’s that looked bad for the bus company’s many screw-ups. To do it again, I would book with a more reputable bus company instead of trying to save a few bucks (which I ended up not saving due to their dirty tricks), from only one location on only one day, and would have put more effort into advertising them.

Overall, I think the grand opening was definitely a success, but there were a few things that I’d do differently a second time. The general rule would be: where we kept it simple, it worked.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bus Tours Are Fun

We had two tours come through the brewery this weekend, and they were our first official tours ever. The first group was a bachelor party kicking things off right at Beau’s before heading out for fun and debauchery in Montreal, and the second was a group of Ottawa-based teachers (rowdier than their students, I’d be willing to bet).

As Jen’s blog mentioned, a lot of work needed to happen before these tours. Walls painted, 160 foot façade built, floors redone, complete overhaul on the bathroom, old exhaust hood ripped out of the side of the building, building a bar, a beer fridge, etc. We also needed to have some merchandise for the tour groups to buy, so there was more work getting t-shirts and hats and things printed up.

It took an insane amount of work to get it all done. Jen and her husband Kev put in about 50 hours of volunteer time each, on top of their regular jobs and looking after their two kids, my buddy Gabe gave up a couple days, Jamie, Phil and Matt spent last weekend bangin’ wood, Mom and Dad have been working like mad, Phil’s fiancée Laura spent a few days helping out, and I’ve put in two 100+ hour work weeks, getting to the brewery at about 7:30, coming home for two hours with Nicola and the kids and working most nights until about midnight – but it was worth it.

Literally 15 minutes before the first group came in we were still assembling the retail bar counter, sorting through our newly purchased merchandise, and whatnot. But I think we pulled it off, and things are looking great!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Beer + Friends + Scaffolding = Good times!

Jen "Beau" here: Just wanted to post a quick picture of this weekend's project: we got a crew working on putting up the barnboard to transform the ol' factory into something that looks like a place where we make Beau's. We also got to working on the retail space, hand-staining wood for signage, building a bar top, putting down high-end peel n stick on the floor, etc. A special thanks to dudes like Gabe, who came out to help cause he's a dude. And three cheers for how good Buddy D's mural looks. Renovational hijinx included:
  • Kevin caught a hammer that was heading for Steve's head. Got the claw in the finger, but saved Steve's precious head. Applied bandaid. Soothed pain with beer.
  • It took three of us to figure out how the heck the scaffolding went together.
  • Jen had to go to the lumber supply store to ask for "rough strapping" and all they gave her was 1x4s.
  • Jen got to do her first brewery tour, pointing out 1) the beer-making vessels, 2) the beer storage vessels, 3) kegs that were full, 4) kegs that were empty... and then came up short on anything else she knew about how Matt spends his days.
  • Phil worn a yellow apron-belt, and declared himself and his dad "belt buddies."
  • Dad sacrificed his back for the good of the company. Advil is his new best friend.
  • Jen laid the peel n stick amazingly straight, and then had to take a cab home. Don't ask about the painting.
  • Kevin nailed Phil right in the pouch.
  • Jamie puts the skill in skillsaw! Next time I'm getting him a jigsaw so I can see a jig too.

The fun and games will continue right up until Thursday the 17th.... hope to see you there! Steve has more pics of the renos to come, and a blog about us learning to blog at an OCB meeting in Toronto. Blogtastic!