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Baseball and beer

Spring training just started up which means that my favorite sports part of the year has just begun, and hopefully will last until October. If you don’t know I am a huge Phillies fan and not one of those fans who only likes them when they are good, but a 1997  Phillies fan when they finished up 68-94 and 5th in the NL East. With that said, what is it about beer and baseball that just go so well together. I have done my share of tailgating before a game, but that does not compare with having a quality brew in your hands during the actual game.

My most memorable moment where good beer and baseball mixed was two years ago when the Phillies made the playoffs in the first time in what seemed like forever. It was the NLDS vs. the Brewers (odd?), Game 1. I had a Sam Adams Octoberfest in my hand with my buddies surrounding me as we cheered on the Phils to their first win in the playoffs that year. Needless to say they went on to win the whole show. Something about the cold of the game and the beer was just rewarding and added to the overall experience of watching something I love to watch.

One of the highlights of the game is when the Miller beer guy came into our section and people started throwing stuff at him and booing him just becasue he was selling Miller. Miller is made in Milwaukee, just like the Brewers, get it? Philadelphia fans are passionate to the point that the poor guy couldn’t make a sale of a product that was made in the same city as the team we faced. The guy was a 100% Philadelphian too. Anyone else enjoy a beer and a baseball game?

My brewpub: What kind of beer?

As I think about my brewpub more and more I have a few issue that come up in my mind. The current thing I can’t get out of my mind is what kind of beer to serve. While this is probably step number 52,561,021 and I am really on step 1.5 I am a beer guy, can I can’t help it. I also tend to get ahead of myself when I am excited about something.

My question breaks down into to parts; what kind of beer to offer and do we have set beers along with seaonals? The kinds of beer to offer doesn’t seem very tough, I enjoy all beers and I really like making different styles. I don’t want to “sellout” and make styles that are selling well, I want to make quality beers of my choosing. Of course the “typical” beers are going to be there; stouts, IPAs, Pale Ales, Porters, Ambers, etc. Yes there will be the occasional Imperial Russian Stout or something oaked or something else that is something different than what you see in a bottle.

The big question in my mind is to offer a year-round selection of beer with a few rotating specials or do we always keep a rotating selection. I’m going to go out on a limb (and I have nothing other than my own observations to support this) and say that 95% of brewpubs have a few set beers and then fill up the rest of their taps with seasonal beers or special beers. I have only ever been to one brewpub that has a new and different beer on tap each week; Bube’s Brewery. I talk about Bube’s last week, and the constantly rotating selection of beer always had me coming back.

There are a few problems with doing this though. You never really have a set cost, as your ingredients are always changing. When coming up with a budget for your brewing expenses it would be nice to have as little guess work involved as possible. I would imagine customers would also like to come back and have a certain beer when they come in. It can help build your brand and also increase repeat customers.

On the other side having a rotating selection of beers has benefits as well. While you don’t have the cost control you do with the other method, you do always have something new on tap. Releasing a new beer each week could really keep people coming back and build your brand in a different way. Speaking from a brewing stand-point you don’t get bored brewing the same thing each week. But for the people who seek consistency and have a favorite beer that they come in for, this doesn’t really work for.

Part of the decision also depends on how many taps we will actually have available to use. My plan is to start with four taps and grow into eight or so. I always want to have a “House Ale” that will been on tap no matter what. With the House Ale adding a anchor beer the other three taps will rotate. Once we are able to expand the taps I would then start have four or so year-round beers and having the other four be whatever we feel like making. I think this satisfies both groups of people who are there for the beer. We can keep things the same and different at the same time. Anyone have any different thoughts on this or any suggestions?