Is This a Celebration?

Now this is certain to piss off Alan. Why? Follow me over here.

I like The Bruery, I really do. I like what Patrick Rue has managed to do in terms of carving out his reputation in such a short time frame and I like many of the beers he crafts. I have never visited the brewery’s tasting room, but I’m guessing I might like that, too.

However, when I received the press release touting The Bruery’s second anniversary “party,” I had to shake my head. Here’s the skinny:

“Come join us in celebrating our second year of brewing experimental and Belgian-style beers!” the release begins, making me think of clinking glasses, happy faces and maybe a party hat or two. But it then continued:

The celebration will be split into four, 3 hour sessions:

Session #1: Saturday, May 22nd, 12 PM – 3 PM
Session #2: Saturday, May 22nd, 4 PM – 7 PM
Session #3: Sunday, May 23rd, 12 PM – 3 PM
Session #4: Sunday, May 23rd, 4 PM – 7 PM

Huh? Four three-hour parties? Seems off to me, but let’s find out what’s planned:

We’ll be serving a wide variety of Bruery ales including Melange #3, Oude Tart, Humulus Rice, Seven Grain Saison as well as Coton, our second anniversary ale that has been aging in oak barrels and clocks in at 14.5% ABV. Each attendee will be given 10 tasting tickets, which will be redeemed for 2-5 oz. of beer, depending on the strength and rarity of the beer. No additional tasting tickets may be purchased. Each session will also feature food catered by Seal Beach’s Beachwood BBQ including their legendary fried pickles and slow smoked meats as well as Belgian waffles, artisan cheeses, cured olives and other snacks.

Okay, I’m cool with the enjoyment of food and beer as a means of celebration, but ten tasting tickets maximum for samples of 2 to 5 ounces each? That’s not celebration, that’s analysis! That’s evaluation! That’s what I do almost every day for work!

Scroll down, past the list of beers that will be available, to the final line:

Admission is $40 per person.

So, to “celebrate” two years of business, they’re allowing people to pay $4 per sample a maximum of ten times during one of four three-hour periods. Oh, and there will be food, too.

Sorry, Bruery, that’s not a party, that’s a second anniversary tasting event. I’m sure it will be fully sold-out and everyone will have a marvellous time, but a bunch of people standing around and sniffing and sipping and tweeting their tasting notes is no way to celebrate anything, much less two years of extraordinary and well-deserved success. Call it what it is and have a real party some time later.

5 Replies to “Is This a Celebration?”

  1. Oh. dear.

    I entirely agree. I could have written that word for word. I have no issue with food and beer but do balk at “only this beer and only this food” and also expense and exclusivity… but that is the same thing you are saying, no?

    I hope I am not losing my edge on this point. To the slightly-sub-pudgy 47 year old overly mortgaged and covered with small children, there are few opportunities to pretend one has any edges left.

  2. Hi Steven,

    Thanks for the press on our Anniversary Celebration!

    I am a bit confused on your points here. I’ll try to address them one by one.

    Number of sessions:
    We are a small brewery that luckily has a lot of fans, so we have to stretch this out into a few sessions. I’d much prefer to do one big session, believe me! Our brewery just can’t accommodate it, and we’ll certainly be looking for a larger space to have the event next year.

    Number / Sizes of Pours:
    There’s going to be a lot of beers on tap, so I imagine most people will want to be adventurous and sample their way through. If one of our guests wants a full pint of Orchard White (or something else that’s not super-strong or limited), that’s just fine too (but it’ll be around 3 tickets).

    Believe it or not, this is essentially a break even party. We want to have some nice food offerings (and we want everyone to eat well to balance out the alcohol), so our cost on that is $20. With the beer, equipment rentals, hourly wages of part time employees, time off for full time employees, and other miscellaneous costs incurred, this is not overcharging… we’re just trying not to lose money.

    We’ll all have a great time, and I can guarantee there won’t be an ounce of pretense.

    Despite the tone of this comment, I frequently read your blog, enjoy your insights, and generally agree with them– just not this one. I’m sorry our press release rubbed you the wrong way.

    Patrick Rue
    The Bruery

  3. Thanks for wading in, Patrick. I appreciate your efforts to clarify what I gleaned from the press release, and I’m very happy to hear the celebration promises to be pretense-free, believe me!

    My chief concern, as noted in my original post, is that your bash strikes me more as a tasting than a celebration, and while I understand your interests in allowing as many people to sample as many of the beers as possible, that still doesn’t seem to me much like a party. Then again, as evidenced by the thousands of people who travel in packs to the GABF to sample a multitude of one-ounce pours, obviously there are many, many people who disagree with me on that front.

    All that said, I continue to enjoy your beers and wish you great success with your anniversary celebrations and in the years to come.

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