Don’t take this the wrong way, but when we went into the brewery business… it just didn’t occur to us that we were going to become salespeople, too! (All we wanna do is brew, you know?)
But sell we must, and sell we have, and sell we do. We spend about half the week going out for tastings at restaurants and bars—and setting up appointments for future tastings. We figure it takes an average of five hours of calling/ emailing/ visiting just to set up the appointment in the first place!
We’ve visited dozens of sites, and have a triple-digit list of other sites where we’d love to see Valiant on tap. (Speaking of which—if you have any suggestions for locations where you think Valiant would be a great fit, comment below and let us know!)
Some of the people we meet are total beer geeks. They’re interested in hearing about our lineup and the beer styles we’re planning on brewing; they sniff our pours, lift their glass to look at the beer in the light, and hold the beer in their mouths before swallowing. (It almost brings a tear to the eye. Beer connoisseurs—ya gotta love ’em!) Some places have a wall filled with tap handles—a little disconcerting for these new kids on the block! And some places are just plain surprising. Like one local joint where the owner offered all his customers a sample of the beers we brought… after the beer we’d brought was all gone.
Selling to new accounts is definitely the most challenging aspect of our business at this stage—but it has its high points. Some restaurant/ bar owners and managers have called to invite us for a tasting, because they’ve heard good things about our beers. A few wine bars have reached out to us because customers have suggested that Valiant beers would make a perfect companion to their wine list. One restaurant manager offered to drive over to the brewery to do the tasting, so we wouldn’t have to drive out to her!
While out on one tasting, Brian was explaining his brewing philosophy and describing what’s unique about Jericho (our Imperial IPA—but you knew that!): the high IBUs, unique hop profile, and malty balance. The restaurant manager seemed really interested—and when Brian suggested he do a side-by-side tasting of Jericho and a very established craft brewery’s DIPA, the manager thought it was a great idea. He ended up buying a keg of Jericho for his place!
We love pouring in our tasting room—but it is so cool to hear about people enjoying our brews at great restaurants and fun bars around the county. Stay tuned as we land more accounts, and check back often for an updated list of awesome places where you can relax with a Valiant (list is also available on our Facebook page—just click on Find Our Beer at the top of the page).
Now I understand why so many breweries write these blogs. It’s not because we like reading about ourselves, but more along the line that the experiences that we go through are simply meant to be shared. Yesterday we had some ground breaking progress for VBC, we went through with submitting our Conditional Use Permit for the city or Orange. I know that doesn’t sound like much but take the fact that a year ago May we were about to sign a lease in the city of Irvine; we pulled out and 3 months later almost signed a lease for a building in the city of Lake Forest, you can see this day was long in the coming.
There I am taking ownership as we walk into the city of Orange’s planning department to off load our CUP (conditional use permit) packet. I seriously was ready to take on the world. I felt organized, with the help of my wife, confident and so ready to make beer that when those sliding doors open it was like “here I am – Let’s do this thing”. But in reality I pushed my daughter thought the doors in her stroller, signed the login in sheet, answered maybe two questions and that was it! At the end of it all, stood around looking goofy for my children, then got handed back our receipt with our CUP reference number and were told to go now and fill out some AMP (Alcohol Management Plan) paperwork from the police department of Orange along with more $$$ for their service. Simple enough right! Pack up the family and head down the road to the police department.
Backing it up just a little, the time frame for us to open our doors has taken full precedence because of the amount of time needed for approving the use of even operating as a brewery in the city of Orange. Most adjacent cities allow a brewery to open its doors as a production brewery, yes a permit is needed for a tasting room but a brewery can start producing beer ASAP upon getting their ABC license. City of Orange requires the CUP for all alcohol related businesses. I guess you can say we are lucky, stressed to no end because of the time line but happy the process has started. So the city told us that it usually takes 6 months to approve our use, ok but the police department takes 3-4 months for their investigation work which is needed by the city in order to continue their approval. Do you see that inner loop? Well we’ll do our best to keep the process moving and hope that around September of this year, 2012 that we can open our doors.
There are many craft beer companies in Orange County, but there are not many offering ales (over 8%) with good flavor. That is our niche. We are “Your Ale Specialist”