photo by Matt Dayak
photo by Matt Dayak
Scott and Terry are BOTH sad to see the week end.
We released a couple of new beers at the Brewery lately, and with little fanfare. Mostly because we were all fanfared out with our Brewpub Grand Opening. So here's a little rundown on them, as well as some new ones on the horizon:
Ingredients and other info for these beers and lots of others can be found on our mobile tap list site, which we update every week: m.eastendbrewing.com You can add it to your smartphone by just clicking on that link and adding a shortcut. (It's really just a website, not an app that eats up any space.)
Over the next couple of weeks, we expect to see the following beers run out:
We're going to try and roll all of these into one or two bottle release days here, so there will be a chance to get some of each. But ultimately, we're at the mercy of the beers and their readiness, trying to coordinate this.
Over the next few weeks, we're making some slight changes to our regular open hours.
As if a full week of Shenanigans isn't enough, to further celebrate our Brewpub's Grand Opening (and to gently cajole you into stopping by for a pint or a bit of holiday shopping), we're sweetening the deal with a bunch of specials, running for the entire month of December. So, come get your Growler/Shopping/GOOD BEER on with us!
To invoke these discounts, you need to utter the magical phrase "Happy BREWPUB GRAND OPENING!" to your barkeep. He will undoubtedly grin, and promptly make the necessary adjustments to your tab.
These specials are for the Brewery Location - or as we say now, THE BREWPUB LOCATION!!! ...and will run as long as supplies last. Or until we decide that you've had enough super awesomeness for one month... Or maybe two months. After that, it's back to plain old regular awesomeness around here.
Happy BREWPUB GRAND OPENING everyone!
It's that time of year again, when I start fielding calls and emails about our Gratitude Barleywine, and when it will be released. We poured some Bourbon Barrel Aged Gratitude at our GOOD WOOD Fest last night, so I figure it's time to formally lay our what our plan is.
Since it's our 10th Anniversary, we're releasing TWO versions of Gratitude this time around:
So as we've said before, this beer isn't going away, but the elaborate paper overwrap is. It's just too much for us to pull off every year, and since we completed the ROY G. BIV spectrum with it, it seems like the right time to make that packaging change.
We'll be releasing BOTH of these beers in the standard 750ml bottles that we've been using for a couple years now, and we're currently expecting that to happen in (Update) MARCH 2015. Yes, we've done it with this very timing before, and yes, we're still calling it "2014 Gratitude" because that's when the beer was brewed... or in the case of the "regular" version, WILL be brewed, later this month.
There will be a small amount of draft packaged for each of these beers, mostly for the Hell With The Lid Off Barleywine Festival, and it will appear on our tap list for by-the-glass sales in our newly opened BREWPUB at some point, but I don't expect we will offer it in Growler form.
When we get closer to picking a release date, I'll post more details about what that will all look like. But plan on having some Gratitude to lighten up those long, cold, dark days of winter.
One last thing: Our very own Fat Gary (the guy, not the beer) has been squirreling away a bottle of Gratitude every year since we opened. While he certainly likes barleywine, he's thinking that there are probably people out there who would appreciate a full vertical more than he would. So he's decided to do something cool with it, with us... Auction it off, and donate all of the proceeds to a charity. I need to see how we can do this legally and legitimately, and once I do, I'll add that info to the bottle release announcement. So stay tuned for all of that stuff.
1/27/2015 Update: Looking like a release day will happen in March. More when we know it.
12/15/2014 Update: If you've been to our Gratitude Release Day before, you know we make EVERY POSSIBLE EFFORT to ensure that this all happens as fairly as humanly possible. So please don't ask me to reserve you some, to sell you some to pick up later, to ship you some (which we legally can't do), or try to convince me that your particular personal need for this beer is an extraordinary situation that I just HAVE to accommodate... because we won't do that. We CAN'T do that. Because playing favorites isn't fair, and...see the first sentence of this paragraph.
I hope you can understand this. I think it's always been pretty clear that if you'd like to get some Gratitude, your best bet it to come to the Brewery on the day we release it. Just like everyone else. And of course, I also hope you'll do just that!
JOURNAL REPORTS: LEADERSHIP
Scott Smith Talks About Growing His Beer Sales—but Not Too Much
By JAMES R. HAGERTY Oct. 19, 2014 4:52 p.m. ET
Scott A. Smith has survived as a craft brewer through frugality, humor and improvisation.
A decade ago, when Mr. Smith was looking at a vacant building to rent for his new brewing business, the owner promised to remove all the dead rats. Mr. Smith didn’t mind the rodents. “Every rat I see, the rent’s coming down,” he recalls thinking.
Using his family’s savings, he bought used brewing equipment and made do without any employees for the first several years. His sign was a piece of cardboard held to the door with duct tape.
The 48-year-old mechanical engineer, a vegetarian and father of two, spent 13 years working as a manufacturing and information-technology manager at bleach maker Clorox Co. before abruptly quitting the corporate world when he was in his late 30s to turn his home-brewing hobby into a business.
His company, East End Brewing Co., is now one of Pittsburgh’s best-known craft beer makers, and today Mr. Smith can afford to pay four full-time and five part-time employees.
When he expanded capacity and bought a building in a better neighborhood three years ago, he raised $100,000 by persuading 100 people to pay in advance for $1,000 of beer and other merchandise—effectively a zero- interest loan. He has avoided bank loans, except for a second mortgage on his home to help finance the expansion.
He spoke recently with The Wall Street Journal. Here are edited excerpts:
The Personal Touch
WSJ: What were your goals when you started out?
MR. SMITH: I didn’t want to take over the world or become a beer mogul. I just wanted to be able to do something interesting. I like doing things with my hands and seeing the physical results of effort. The initial vision was just me in a building, making beer and delivering kegs around town.
WSJ: How have your goals changed over the years?
MR. SMITH: We don’t really do the corporate “Hey, what should we be in five years or 10 years?” We usually have our head down and we’re trying to figure out the goals for the week. Right now, the goal is getting the doors open on our new brewpub.
WSJ: How do you decide how big a craft business should grow?
MR. SMITH: That’s something my wife, Julie, and I spend a lot of time talking about. How big is too big? [Maybe] it’s when you become an administrator instead of a beer maker. Our focus is going to continue to be local. I don’t see us shipping beer across the country. The farther the beer gets away from the brewery, the harder it is to control the quality, and then it becomes a commodity. I don’t want to lose the personal feel.
WSJ: How do you evaluate potential employees?
MR. SMITH: We don’t have a whole lot in the way of a formal hiring practice. Generally, we’ll have somebody help out for a period and see how it works out. We get feedback from everybody in the room, and ask if this is the right fit. I value the feedback from the rest of the crew more than my own.
WSJ: Why have you avoided borrowing money from banks?
MR. SMITH: There’s probably a bunch of businesspeople out there with M.B.A.s who would look at that and say, “Do you know how cheap money is right now? You could get a loan and do X, Y, Z.” It’s probably foolish, but it’s never been part of our mind-set here.
It’s my way of managing risk, so that if for some reason the business goes south, I’m not beholden to the bank to make a monthly payment. I don’t have that hanging over me.
Braving the Crowd
WSJ: What’s the biggest threat to your business?
MR. SMITH: Not paying attention. We just went through a process of looking through our costs in excruciating detail. We were actually selling one brand, Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale, below cost. From an ingredient basis, it’s the cheapest beer we make, so I was charging less for it. But ingredient cost is such a small portion of the cost of beer. Labor and overhead are much bigger. I didn’t have a [precise] number for any of the costs at all; I just made a wild guess.
The baseline financial planning when we started was, “Hey, is there more money in the bank account than there was last month?” If so, great! I think we might be doing something right, so keep doing that.
WSJ: How important is social media?
MR. SMITH: It’s become a huge part of what we do. I can talk about a new beer on Twitter and have people show up at the brewery for that beer that evening.
WSJ: Is the craft brew market getting too crowded?
MR. SMITH: It definitely gives me pause when I see all these new guys coming out, and a lot of them are making fantastic beer. It energizes us to make sure we are on top of our quality. But I don’t think the craft beer market is overcrowded.
As craft beer grows, it’s taking share away from the big multinational brands. And we’re pushing the idea that this is something that’s made in your backyard. Local beer is fresh beer.
Seeking a Sign
WSJ: What’s your advice for people setting up a business like yours?
MR. SMITH: Find your identity, and then throw everything you have behind that, because that’s going to be the most honest and genuine way to connect with people. If you’re trying to be something that you’re not, it will show. Embrace your flaws—and call them character, if you need to.
WSJ: What flaws do you embrace?
MR. SMITH: We still don’t have a sign on the front of our building. This is the year it’s finally going to happen, I swear. It’s become kind of a running gag, but at the same time I’m completely embarrassed by it.
WSJ: Selling beer usually involves quirky humor. Could you run this type of business without a sense of humor?
MR. SMITH: If you’re in the beer business and you don’t have a sense of humor, why are you in the beer business? I mean, it’s fun. By nature, it’s intoxicating.
Mr. Hagerty is news editor for The Wall Street Journal in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Here's what $20 will get you:
Date and time still TBD, but it will be during our Brewpub's Grand Opening "Week of SHENANIGANS". Class size is limited to 40 people. Watch this space for ticketing info.
* People not in possession of a Beer Belly will not be turned away. But if you need one, maybe we can help. This is a class suitable for all experience levels. Yoga mats provided if you need them.
Come for a stretch, Namaste for a beer...
Maybe you've heard of Bayardstown Social Club? If not, have a look at this article which gives you a nice view of what it is, and how it came to be, thanks to our pals at DeepLocal. And if you read that article carefully, you'll undoubtedly pick up on the special release of a Bayardstown BIG Bottle Beer, done in collaboration with a certain local brewery... Hey, that's us!
We just got the final label approvals in place for this beer TODAY, so it's time to book the release party and get the beer into your hands. Oh, the beer... I should talk about that.
We brewed what we hope is the ultimate backyard quencher, perfect for an evening around the fire pit, with a few GOOD FRIENDS. It's a light, crisp, hazy, wheat-based beer, brewed with a significant, tropical fruit hop character. At a modest 4.7% abv, it's also something you can spend the day with and not hurt yourself.
I should also mention that you might know this beer under the name WheatHop, which we released on draft about a week and a half ago. Same beer. But of course, bottle conditioning a beer can alter the flavor profile slightly... Hopefully, making it even better. The Bayardstown label on it certainly makes it COOLER.
We're doing a special release for these bottles at Bayardstown Social Club, but we haven't set the date just yet. But stay tuned, as you'll not want to miss it.
Update: Release is 10/16/2014 at Bayardstown!
Especially if you're a Bayardstown Social Club member, because if you can prove it, you'll save a couple bucks per bottle...at the Brewery, and at our Growler Shop.
We kicked off our Bourbon Barrel and Sour Beer Programs BIG TIME earlier this year, loading up a total of 28 barrels with beer. Most of these are going to be ready to serve this fall, so I figured we should put something together, and invite any other local brewers who have something from a barrel that they want to bring out to serve to the Barrel-aged Beer-loving public.
Turns out, the folks at Wigle were cooking up a similar idea, what with their abundance of freshly emptied Whiskey barrels... just ASKING to be filled with beer! So, we've decided to join forces, and do this event together.
We're still sorting out all of the details, and heck, we still need to get the formal invitation out to the other breweries! So this is really just a "save the date" kind of thing... for now. More when we know it!
In the last couple weeks, we've tapped WheatHop, Nunkin, and BigHop Harvest, and put two new beers into the tanks. So it's not too surprising that I've neglected to post anything about the new beer we're tapping today at the BigPour, and at both of our locations... so let's remedy that!
On a recent visit to Brazil for the World Cup, a couple of our brewers were inspired by a cacao spiced brazilian brew. (Yes, that's a big ol handful of Cacao Nibs in that photo!) This year's big pour brew follows that inspiration. A 4.8% amber aged on cocoa nibs. We are naming it "cacao-cacao", best pronounced as a shreek across the festival floor as 'ka-kow ka-kow!!'. Or if you're not hitting the fest, across the bar to your favorite Growler Hours hosts.
Simul-Tapping is at 1:30pm today, at all THREE locations!