Sunday, January 18, 2009

B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B Bird, Bird, Bird!

One of the things I don't think we've ever blogged about as a brewery is delivering beer. So how about today? Every week we get orders for beer in kegs and bottles, and every week, people get those orders delivered and unloaded with a smile. But how the heck do we make the magic happen every week? It's been quite the evolution.

As far back I can can remember, we had the white cargo van and the white mini-van. The cargo van I think we actually bought new, and the mini we got used at a good price from a family friend. Jamie and Phil, the original sales team, did all deliveries every week themselves in these two vehicles for what must have been the first nine months or so, trading them back and forth depending on who had bigger orders, needed to go further, etc. That worked okay for a while, and when we had the most snow in like, 1 bazillion years in 2007, Jamie permanently inherited the minivan for the simple and yet insane reason that you could no longer get the cargo van down his narrow downtown Ottawa street.

So Phil clumbered all over Eastern Ontario in the cargo van for some time. Flash-forward to spring of 2008, and sales had grown to the point where we needed someone to be doing them in a dedicated fashion. So the cargo van became a dedicated delivery vehicle, out Wednesdays for Jen's deliveries and Thursdays for Jamie's.

Ahhhhhh, perfect solution. And then we grew again, got into the LCBO, expanded our territory to Kingston, and also faced some logistical challenges like getting kegs to the Jazz Festival (well kids, should we make 12 trips in one day???) So we added a panel truck into the mix, one we borrowed when needed from the water company that supplies our water. And that's still the combo we have right now to deliver beer, plus one $3,000 van we christened BEFY (Bee-fy) when we saw we won the jackpot on funny license plates at the licensing bureau that day.

So here's how it works:

Panel truck: available Tuesdays and Thursdays only, when water co. not using it. Can hold 6,000 lbs or so
Cargo van: available week round, but can only carry about 19 kegs
BEFY: Available when Jen has nothing to do, which used to be frequently and now, like, never

So we take all these and stick together a delivery route every week. It gets pretty crazy trying to decide what to use for what deliveries, and nothing ever goes quite the way you plan it. The panel truck's gas gauge is touchy, meaning the truck has been stranded on the side of the 417 more than once. In cold weather, she don't start. She lost a tire not too long ago. But generally it gets the job done!

And the cargo van.... well, that's what the blog was supposed to be about. About how it ran out of heat last week during one of the coldest days of the year, and then the next day it overheated in the market, and how Jamie and Kevin brought it to Jamie's mechanic, and Kev spent the rest of the day pacing the waiting room like an expectant father. And how when Steve called to find out what was wrong with the van, how he actually said "What's the word???" And Kevin was able to say that a bird was the word. And now you know about the bird, and everyone knows that the bird was the word---a bird with a beak so long it pierced the rad. But come on in to the brewery and we'll tell you that story ourselves. Cheers! Jen

Local ornithology experts suggest that the bird, lost on a migratory path from across the ocean, may have looked something like this. So if you see one, dodge it fast or you'll be up to your ears in repair bills, even with the Jamie special mechanic rate. Eeek!

1 comment:

Anneke (Mudhooks) said...

Ironic that on the way home from visiting the brewery, we took the "scenic route" home to Ottawa and on the way, a bird flew into the grille of our car.

Luckily, it didn't do any damage to the car but the bird was totaled. I felt terrible. It was a baby Downy Woodpecker, as I discovered when I had to extract it from the innards of my car. Poor thing....