Growing Pains

I’ve been complaining to anyone who will listen about how everything is going great and we can barely make beer fast enough to keep up with demand. Not unsurprisingly, I don’t get a lot of sympathy. Just a few words on that: Yes, it’s a great problem to have. But it’s still a problem. But it’s also still pretty great. Still… We need to fix it, which we do by growing, which is part of the plan, just the timing is a change in plans. I’m not really complaing — it’s more like the sort of half-complain one might express as “what’s that? I need to go down and collect my lottery winnings? So I don’t get to sleep-in, as I had planned…?” — that kind of thing. Still, one gets to do the sort of half-complaint of “I really wasn’t planning to put on pants, today…” while smiling on the inside.

Anyway…

A whole bunch of stuff has been happening lately — apologies for the delay in blogging.

Toward the end of October, we did the Willow Glen Beerwalk, which was a costume event. Vicki dressed as Dirty Blonde Ale, I was Leftenant Pepper’s English IPA, and our friend Mary was Pretty Purple Porter (Reserve). We didn’t serve any blonde at the event, but the other two were what we had.

Beerwalks are always fun, but a couple of things led to this one standing out. First, the costume thing added a layer of funness. Before the opening-bell, I went to visit the other breweries on our block — saw the folks from Uncommon, Hapa and Santa Clara Valley breweries. (Uncommon had the best costumes, IMO.) Then, when I came back — still about 15 minutes before opening — a familiar looking family was at our station. Turns out they were the same family that was first-in-line at our previous beerwalk, and they remembered enjoying our beer, and so sought us out again this time. It was fun to see old friends like that!

A quick aside: I’ve done a couple of posts about how we work hard to make really good beer, and we’re quite happy with the result, but it’s not what I think of as The Best Beer In The World (although, maybe it is…?!) It’s good, we’re very proud of it, but we try to stay humble and remember that there’s always room to improve. So when someone is effusive about our beer, I do my best to take the compliment, but a part of me can’t help but think they’re exaggerating or “just being nice”. Ok, back to our story…

…About the middle of the event, the reps from both sides came by and insisted they taste our beer. I’m all, like, “ok, sure — it’s Beerwalk — free beer for everyone! But what’s the urgency…?” and they both separately reported that people were coming to our station, getting beer, then walking to their stations and wouldn’t stop talking about how good ours was.

And a part of me couldn’t help but think maybe they were just being nice, but these are reps from other breweries, talking about customers that commented well out of my earshot… I might need to go update that Best Beer In The World post! 😉

So that was pretty cool. Then… Usually at Beerwalk, about 10-15 minutes before last-call, you get a mild rush of people all wanting to get “one last beer” before it’s over. Understandable but, this time, our rush started about 45 minutes before last call, and was crazy-huge bigger than expected. Our venue was jam-packed with standing room only and people pushing & shoving to get to the beer station.

It turns out, we later learned, that people were conspiring in the streets with their friends to all meet at ManyFriends Brewing toward the end, because “[they] have the best beer”!

Well, ok then! Our public has spoken! Or at least our fans have found us. Either way, it is quite the humbling honor to be treated so nice by our bazillion new friends. Woot!

Another fun and validating experience was: one of our early customers — a long time restauranteur friend in Santa Cruz* — told me that, when I’d first approached him over carrying our beer, he agreed because we’re buddies and he wanted to help out a just-starting local business but, after he tasted our beer — and he was quick to point out that he does not particularly like beer — he came to the conclusion that it was really good beer and he wants to carry ManyFriends Brewing Company as his brand of beer.

His only brand of beer. He’s getting rid of all the mass-produced stuff and carrying only our beer! So we’re crazy-excited about that!

* I’m talking about Farouk, the wonderful owner of Cafe Limelight on Cedar Street. In addition to being the first exclusive purveyor of our products, he’s also our only Santa Cruz customer (so far!) but — more importantly — Farouk makes some of the best panini I’ve ever tasted, and his turkey & brie is my favorite sandwich in the whole world. Go try one! Tell him I sent you and that you’re “here for the beer” (but try the panini, too! 🙂 ) (NOTE: He’d probably say it pairs better with our Jefferson American Pale Ale, though I think the sandwich is bold enough to go with my favorite beer, our Pretty Purple Porter.)

A bunch of other stuff has been happening — I’ll try to get some more posting done through the holidays, as we’re planning some fun expansions for next year.

Stay friendly, my thirsts!

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