Pilot Brews and the Employee Brew Off

Employee Brew Off

brewoffOne of the things I require of everyone at the brewery is that no matter what their position in the company, they all have to brew a pilot batch of beer. It does a few things, they get first hand knowledge of what the brewers have to go through and I believe its a bit of a morale booster. More often than not, they are the most critical of their own work, but in my mind, it makes them a better brewer.

Sometimes its a trial by fire, with my brewers, if they show an aptitude for brewing, following the process or able to make adjustments on the fly, their day in the spotlight comes a littler sooner than others. I’m not playing favorites here. 

They are pleasantly surprised when customers give their nod of approval. They often complement me, but I just shake my head, point at the person that brewed it. 

“Thank you.” I reply, “But, that was all theirs.”

You see a certain glow of pride come over the staff member, some of whom are way to modest to take the credit. One such instance was with my chief brewer Chris. Was he nervous? Perhaps. I walked him through formulation, explaining a few ratios and what not. But it was all him.

I don’t just hand them my tablet and open up an application like Beer Smith and say, “Here, formulate.” I’m not that evil. I’ll walk them through it with a series of questions about color, abv, body, etc, but its all them. Chris was extremely critical of his own work and far too modest. When his first solo sold out in about a weekend, I gave him a friendly pat on the back and told him he should be proud of his creation and pat himself on the back.

Justin, my other brewer, just did his. We hope to have it kegged soon. This time around, I stepped away and didn’t help with formulation. Instead, I had Chris show him the ropes. The result? An amazing piney yet citrus IPA, a take on the West Coast style side of the spectrum. You’ll have to take my word for it until we debut it.

I was chatting with my bar manager/events coordinator/etc… Harlee. She knows the final product, but hasn’t yet done her pilot. So, I had this idea floating around in my head, so I thought I’d get her input. An employee brew off. She seemed intrigued. We concocted a contest, pairing up all the employees and have them compete. Everyone is busily conceptualizing ideas for their competition beer. But there’s more.

Baying Hound Employee brew off Trophy

The Trophy

Not only do they have to formulate and brew it, but they need to publicize it, think of it as a friendly grudge match or political campaign. I don’t care how they publicize it, it could be very low budget cheesy YouTube video or perhaps a Facebook post or two. We’re targeting the release for Dog Daze III coming up in July, which also happens to be our 4th anniversary. But here’s the catch… When we do tap it, they won’t have the name posted on the tap list, it will simply have a number along with the style they are going for. The employees have been instructed to not say which one is theirs. Instead, we will be offering a special, three samples and then a pint of the customer’s favorite. Along with this deal, they will be handed a ballot and cast their vote. The winners will get bragging rights and a somewhat cheesy looking trophy like the one pictured to the right. Yes, that’s a pint glass glued to a 22 oz bottle and spray painted gold. 

I am not immune to participating in this contest, partially because we’re teaming up in twos and we don’t have a full six people. So some family members will be helping out, and I’m being teamed up with the newest member of our team, Hunter. Two things we still haven’t come up with is our beer concept, not to mention a catchy team name. Chris’ team name, if he’s sticking with it and I hope it does, will be The Kuhnhounds. Catchy, seeing as his last name is Kuhn and he’s partnering up with his home brew buddy…his dad. As for the Justin/Harlee team, I heard a suggestion from our friendly neighborhood AFLAC representative, Leslie. She blurted out “The Mangy Mutts.” If they don’t take that name, I will.

Do I have an unfair advantage? I don’t think so. I have some very talented brewers here and they have brewed some amazing beers. Sometimes the underdog is the one who really shines through. Hmmm… “Underdogs,” if “Mangy Mutts” doesn’t get picked, I’m going to suggest that be one of the team names. Hunter and I have our work cut out for us, we’re up against some stiff competition. 

We’re asking you, our treasured customers, to help vote for the best one. Yet another reason to come to Dog Daze III. Hope to see you there, July 12.