Sunday, May 16, 2010

Waiting lists, Princess, Website, OCB Week, South African Microbrewery

Some weeks seem to take a month.

Monday was the start of the House of Orange so a pile of us went down to enjoy the very first taste of of Vrienden (our collaborative beer with de Koningshoeven to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Dutch liberation by Canadian troops) with Lodewijk and Gijs Swinkels from Koningshoeven, Remco Volmer from the Dutch embassy and a bunch of other folks. It was a great time.

Not so much fun on Monday was calling up 30 LCBO stores to let them know that we can't send them beer for the next 14 weeks or so. Let me explain...

Trying to predict what sales would do with our new 4-pack was kind of like trying to glue egg-yolks to a wall (not that I can guess why you would want to do that). We ran scenarios where people who bought one ceramic bottle before would buy one 4-pack now and scenarios where total volume stayed the same and lots of different versions of other scenarios too...but in the end, we kinda guessed total volume might double from 1,500 litres/week to around 3,000 litres/week.

Our orders for the last month have gone from 5,000 litres/week to 9,000 litres/week, with individual stores ordering as much as 600 litres (250 4-packs). While we are tickled pink that it is taking off - we totally can't keep up with that level of demand. We simply don't have enough brewers or tank space to bottle that much every week. So we've ordered new tanks and we've hired someone to run our bottling line, but it will take about 3 months for this to help us.

It is a horrible decision to have to make, deciding which stores to cut off, and even worse calling them to let them know they won't be getting our beer for a while. Jerry and Philip got the honour of letting them know.

On Tuesday Dad and I were invited to the Dutch Ambassadors residence for a private gathering with Princess Margriet and her husband, Professor van Vollenhoven. It was quite an honour to attend, although I have to admit I felt rather awkward in the company of royalty. Its not like I get to hang out with princesses all too often, and I really worried about doing or saying something inappropriate.

Also on Tuesday we met with an architect. We are going to outgrow our original brewhouse pretty soon if our sales keep growing at the rate they have been and so we've started looking at different options. Our options got a lot cooler last year, when an architect student asked if she could develop a new brewery for us as her final thesis. Obviuosly we said yes and when she came back 8 months later, she amazed us. She has since started working with an architecture firm in the area and they have put together a starting document to see if we can't get this into reality.

Wednesday was the ceremony at the Governor General's residence and this was a real treat. The ceremony was quite elegant and helped me remember the real reason this was such a cool project. We were also allowed to bring a much larger group that included my wife and daughters and my Grandfather Max, who fought in World War II. And getting a picture of my two girls with the princess was a real bonus thrill.

this week we also relaunched our website. Jordan has spent months getting this baby ready, and she is totally kick-ass. There is lots of real content, lots of interactive, live feed stuff and it is one heck of a pretty site. We constantly got compliments on our last site and this one makes the old one look like a pile of puke.

With summer almost here it was also time for an Oh Yeah's practice. The Oh Yeah's is our brewery band. We hadn't been practicing for a long time though, so Friday night after the hockey game, we dusted off the instruments and played through the old set list. Not a bad run through considering how much rust we had to shake off. We're playing a gig on the 29th for Veg Stock in Kemptville, so we gotta get it together, yo.

As if the week wasn't already action-packed enough, on Saturday we met with Ntsiki Biyela, the wine maker from Stellekaya a winery from Stellenbosch, South Africa. She was visiting Canada and wanted to stop by the brewery as she is conducting research to start a craft brewery in her country. How cool is that?

When that is the highlight reel from your week, it can be kind of hard to manage all of the rest of life, so I saw a lot of 4ams and a couple 2ams, too. But in amoungst all that I managed to mow the lawn, watch Ruby's kindergarten play, saw the end of the Habs game 7, played a couple games of UNO with the fam, made it out to the House of Orange, The Works in Orleans, Lavoie's in town and I only missed two nights of bedtime stories - one 'cause I wan't home and the other 'cause I couldn't stay awake until the kids bedtime.


Jeff said...

Hey Guys,I'm hoping that Toronto get's cut out of the Lug-Tread for the time being. They got tons of great beers already and I'll miss daily Lug-Tread! Going to head down to The House of Orange and try me a pint of your newest creation Vrienden. I also just noticed the Screaming Beaver on your new website. Wow,just can't keep up to all your great beers.

Steve Beauchesne said...

Toronto is getting the most cuts, but we've also looked at areas where we have two stores in the same 5 blocks or so and cut whichever store was selling the least.

We're trying to manage this the best way possible, and Eastern Ontario is getting way more beer, but at the same time we don't want to cut out Toronto entirely either.

It's a real tough position to be in. I hate disappointing folks.

Brendan Coutts said...

"Its not like I get to hang out with princesses all too often..."

You hang out with Eddy all the time...