After a crazy amount of time and preparation, three hours of setup, four hours of dispensing 40 gallons of beer, another hour of cleanup, and numerous conversations about GrassLands' plans for the future, we were TAPPED out! Put Pints for Paws 2012 in the books as a huge success!
First off, my hat goes off to Tyler and Sara of Broken Cog and my buddy Paul for their help and creativity in brewing, presenting and dispensing. As evidenced above, we did it up with a full-on vinyl banner displaying both of our breweries (how's the temporary logo look? - we dig it), as well as laminated menus for the crowds of patrons to peruse. The thing that really put our booth over the top, in our opinion, was our Infusions. Much like Sam Calagione does with Dogfish's Randall, we wanted to have something similar. Essentially, GrassLands', Broken Cog's and Paul's beers were great on their own, but we had a few that we felt could improve P4P patrons' overall experience with added ingredients at the time of serving. Enter our own randalling technique: French Presses.
What? Yeah, I said it. We poured our beer onto specific ingredients into three separate French presses and served them to patrons five minutes later. As soon as the event started, we infused cinnamon sticks into Paul's already awesome hard cider (or if you find yourself walking the streets of Old Bavaria - Apfelwein), then an hour later we infused whole hops with Broken Cog's infamous dark ale, an hour after that we infused the Citrus Meyeri Wit with slices of orange and grapefruit, and finally we infused Broken Cog's American stout with coffee beans! The crowd's reaction was intense and unexpected. Once folks realized what we were actually doing, that's when it got interesting. We tapped out both the Wit and Stout kegs simply through the scheduled infusions! We held our own in the People's Choice voting and were told by numerous folks that our beer was the best they had all afternoon - and that's saying something considering my brew club's penchant for brewing excellent beer! We had a great time and can't wait to do it again next year.
The event itself was a big success - we're still waiting on fundraising and attendance totals, as well as the winner of the People's Choice award - but from simply seeing everyone (at least from our vantage point in front of our booth) shoulder-to-shoulder, and the ASF volunteers running out of supplies at 6:30, I'd say we crushed last year's totals! That's great considering the overall reason we were all there - for the benefit of sheltered animals throughout the region. I can't say enough about how proud I am of our fellow brewers and the thousands of folks that turned out (or wanted to turn out but simply couldn't). You all have truly made a difference.
GrassLands feels great after an event like this because it also gives us the chance to market our beer and our plans for the future. Numerous folks asked where and when they'd be able to purchase GLB's beer, and while that's a great and flattering thing to hear (stroke that ego), it's also humbling in that we realize there's quite a road ahead of us, and much of that road is new territory and foggy. As exciting a process as this is, and as motivated as I get when people tell me how much they enjoy the creative beers I brew, I try to keep myself grounded in that this needs to be a methodical, planned process - from start to finish. The last thing I want is for GrassLands to end up as a failed startup statistic. However, given my determination, I feel I can make anything happen.
So, now what? Red Panda Rye. That's what. 10 gallons being brewed this weekend by us and Broken Cog. What else, you ask? Citrus Meyeri Wit. This'll be the 3rd iteration of the wit, and we'll see if we can get it exactly where we want it. Of any GrassLands beers served at P4P, the Wit was the fan favorite. This weekend I'll be brewing it up again making minor tweaks here & there - the most significant minor tweak being the introduction of oats into the mix. Oats aren't a major factor in wits, but can add to the overall mouthfeel and experience if done right. Let's see how she does! On a side note, the most recent versions of Citrus Meyeri Wit and Secale Cereale Saison will be competing in CASK's First Coast Cup shortly - can't wait to see how they do!
What else? Sheesh! GrassLands is eager to get going on hosting some tasting/brewing/food pairing events in the near future, and guess what? You're FREAKING INVITED. Srsly? Yes. Brewing parties will be primarily focused on instruction, ingredients and tasting. Ideally, I'd like to get a schedule going where you, my friends, come to visit and hang out while we brew some beer and taste the most recently brewed version of that beer. You get to have input from that point forward - the only requirement? Just be there to provide said input! Essentially, you'll have the chance to brew with us, taste with us, and have input on future iterations of the eventual flagship GrassLands ales! What's not to like about that?
With regard to the beer pairing/beer dinner events, we'll be collaborating with a buddy of mine who is a foodie if I've ever met one: Josh of CookTheBlog.com (Check it out!). Josh is as much a cook as he is a foodie, so recently he and I have been chatting about cooking up new recipes that'll use my beer, what types of foods would go well with some of my off-the-wall beer styles, etc., etc., etc. You know, guy stuff. Anyways, when the Fall rolls around, GrassLands and CookTheBlog may be hosting a special event on an away gameday. (Saturdays in the Fall in Tallahassee are special, for some reason). Sound good? Good! Great! Grand! Wonderful! We'll have a blasty.
Alrighty, that about does it. We'll update via Twitter/Facebook on how we did in the People's Choice as well as the overall financial and attendance figures for Pints for Paws as soon as we get word. I just know we killed it this year. With that, I'll leave you with a fun little vidcap GrassLands' parents put together of the event. I realize I talk about P4P so much, but it's hard to communicate it to people who have never been - so here you go - click here!