It’s been nearly a week since the festivities we’ve come to call Kate Day, when we tap Tod’s famous Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout and offer bottles of it for sale to the general public. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback and some helpful suggestions, and I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts about how things went.
Before I get into that, however, I would like to sincerely thank everyone who helped make Kate Day such a terrific celebration. That includes those who drove great distances and waited patiently in the cold in a line that extended from our doorstep all the way down to Market Square, a block and a half away. It also includes Tod, Tyler, Brennen, Joanne and the rest of wonderful Brewery staff – both front and back of the house – who worked their tails off and looked like they loved every minute of it, smiling and hustling their way through the (barely) controlled chaos that lasted from early morning till last call.
At the Brewery, we are very aware that we have been blessed with something extremely special, and it’s not entirely about the beer. We are fortunate to host, once or twice a year, a remarkable gathering of friends, acquaintances and strangers, who come together under the pretext of seeking out a rare and marvelous beer – Kate the Great. But it’s about much more than that. Everyone who attended will probably agree that the “vibe” we all felt that day was truly unique. This was not just another day at the office, or the bar, or a concert or whatever. Kate Day was a rare occasion – yes, the beer is the draw, but the people make the day.
Some have suggested that there is too much “hype.” I don’t see it that way. Hype implies something false and inauthentic, that is blown out of proportion. If you look at the comments on Beer Advocate and other beer blogs, nobody said that the beer or the event failed to live up to their expectations. From the Brewery’s standpoint, our promotion of Kate Day consisted of putting a countdown clock on our website, several mentions in our email newsletter, and our literary contest, which we promoted only on our website and newsletter. We didn’t spend a penny on advertising. In the Brewery itself, there were no posters or table tents, or even a mention in our menu during the time leading up to the event. That’s pretty low-key promotion, in my book! In my opinion, the interest in Kate Day was purely organic, generated by people who are sincerely interested in good beer and the opportunity to be part of a rare and special social event. Since bottle sales were limited to two per person, it’s safe to say that the level of mercenary activity was pretty much zero; no one was cashing in on Kate Day.
Did everything run perfectly? Certainly not. I was not happy to see so many people standing in line for much of the day. And like everyone else, I was disappointed to learn that Kate didn’t make it till last call Monday. I only had one glass myself, assuming, like many others did, that I’d have another one with lunch on Tuesday. We will certainly do a post-mortem and think of as many was as we can to improve the next Kate Day.
But I need to point out that we at the Brewery are in the business of saying yes. That is the cornerstone of our hospitality. We can not make a distinction between “regulars” and “non-regulars.” As far as I am concerned, everyone who walks in our door deserves the best we can offer, whether it’s their first time, or their fourth time this week. We’ve talked about a “soft” release, and some on our staff are enthusiastic about that idea. I, for one, am not a big fan of the idea, because, as I’ve said, I belive the real magic of Kate Day is the mix of the beer and the gathering itself. I may crack open a bottle of Kate one evening, but I don’t think I’ll enjoy it nearly as much as the glass I had in the midst of such a wonderful crowd of happy beer lovers.