This week, we will brew our second (and last) batch of Windjammer for 2011, which should be enough to see us through the Tall Ships festival in Waterford (the inspiration for the beer) and some of the upcoming festivals in the summer. We’ve been really pleased with the reception to Windjammer – especially since it was a bit of a gamble, what with us being new kids on the block and all, concocting this seasonal brew with a combination of exotic hops which we hadn’t used before. But it appears to be paying off, and the feedback we’re getting is that people love it – so much so that we are definitely planning to bring it back again next year as our spring/summer seasonal.
That said, a big challenge we’re facing is getting it out on our native turf – Waterford is only just getting used to the idea of our Pale Ale, and convincing bars to let us put *one* tap can be a formidable enough job, let alone two. While we have some excellent publicans onboard already who are keen to try something different, and support a local business, there are plenty who don’t feel there is any need to change what they are currently stocking. “There’s no demand for your beer in our pub”, we have been told by more than one establishment. And yet, we know for a fact, that people who like to drink our beer go to the pubs in question. It’s a curious thing – is it that we as a drinking populace have gotten too conditioned to just asking for what we know to be available in a given pub, rather than asking for what we really want to drink? Do we not want to rock the boat, or cause trouble, by asking for a beer that they might not have? We wouldn’t think twice about it in a shop – if we can’t see what we’re looking for, we ask someone who works there if they stock it. And if they don’t, we either select a suitable alternative if there is one, or we leave and try somewhere else. And the latter option can send a very powerful message – it’s very possible that the next time you are looking for the same product in that shop, they will have started stocking it. (Depending on the nature of the shop of course – this is assuming that you haven’t gone looking for an iPod in the butcher’s, or lingerie in the Spar. Although you never know.)
So could it be that simple?
Could getting a better selection of beer in your local be as easy as asking for it? Well, yes. It will be in vain at first, but keep asking, and the message will ultimately sink in, especially if a publican sees people leaving their bar to go somewhere else for a product that he/she could easily be stocking as well. Be bold, be adventurous, and risk the wrath of (or probably just a dirty look from) your local landlord! If you order it, it will come!