The Brewer’s Wife, the Beer Bash, & El Niño

Last Thursday, I watched John roll the kegarator down the street and around the corner to our friend Pete’s house, in preparation for our first “Beer Bash.”  Rolling the kegarator two blocks was loud and slow, and as I heard it rattle down the street, I thought, “this is it; here we go.”  I also thought “I will commit violence if he wakes up the baby” and “Our neighbors better not be watching because rolling an appliance down the street at 10pm isn’t a good look.”  But back to my original thought.  I knew this keg move for the Beer Bash was the start of more than just a party – it was the portal we were passing through from Phase One to Phase Two.  Phase One of the brewery development had been gradual and over the period of many years.  It was like the training wheels on my son’s bike – safe, secure, easy . . . we had accomplished a great deal but in an environment where mistakes were ok and taking our time was fine.  Phase Two won’t be so forgiving.

The idea for this party hatched about five months ago when our good buddies Pete and Cassie suggested we use their house as a “kick off party” for Wild Parrot (their house is noticeably larger, nicer, and cleaner than ours).  As the idea evolved, it turned into a chance to get our friends, neighbors, and their friends together (in the end, 70 or so people) to sample our beer, eat delicious sausage, and learn a little bit about what we are trying to do. Our goals were to make connections within the community, spread the good word, and hopefully meet a few people who might be interested in going further with us in this process.

John started brewing beer for this event about 3 months ago.  Making a good lager takes time as well as space, as we had to time each beer around the availability of space in our “fermentation chamber” (aka chest freezer).  I worked on the party planning angle and negotiated cheaper prices for our food and materials using charm, my two darling children and the Wild Parrot story.  We decided to have full-sized renderings (see previous blog post) and the image of our new mascot printed.  We ordered pint glasses with the mascot printed on them to pass out at the end of the night, along with a small flyer detailing what we are all about.  We brought our restaurant consultant, Javar, up from San Diego to oversee the food for the day.  Keeping with the “kid-friendly” theme of Wild Parrot, we hired our babysitters and told guest to bring their children along.  From the big picture to the details, we did everything we could to make this party a reflection of what we want our brewery to be like and if I could use just one word to sum that up, here it is: thoughtful.

 

We faced a few challenges leading up to the party.  Pete, the generous party host neighbor, threw out his back the day before the party and spent part of the day floating in a sensory deprivation tank, which left him pretty out of it (and also still in pain).  El Niño, which had been basically dormant all winter, decided to come to town with a vengeance and John and I spent most of the days before the party on our phones obsessively checking the weather app by the hour and tracking down Easy-Up canopies to borrow. Lastly, our son was sick so extra mommy time was needed.  This is a fraction of a taste of the problems and stress people feel leading up to an opening, so it was good practice.  And we didn’t kill each other.

The party went off without a hitch and the rain held off until everyone had left and we were cleaning up (actually, John and Javar got soaking wet wheeling the kegarator back to our house at midnight).  Everyone had a good time, even Pete in all his agony (beer is good medicine for back pain).  Guests ranked the beers (everyone liked all of them – who doesn’t like free beer - but the Pilsner, IPL and the Irish Red were the most popular), enjoyed our homemade beer mustard on their sausage, and kids colored in pictures of parrots and played happily in the backyard.  A few people asked me if I was the Brewer’s Wife, which I think is hilarious and is now my new nickname.  John spent most of his time at the “bar,” explaining the beers, passing out tastings, and explaining our concept for the brewery.  I think at the very least, people walked away from the party having had a lovely time and learned more about our company.  John and I learned quite a few things about party planning, feeding a large group, and organization, which will serve us well.  Phase One of Wild Parrot is ending – our business plan is finished, our logo has been created, our trademark is moving into the next phase of approval, our lawyers are completing the securities documents, we are starting to spread the good word, and we have our own investment cash ready to go.  BRING ON PHASE TWO.