As our beer grows in popularity, so too grow our brewery tours. More popularity means more people, but the downside includes longer waits, and sellouts. That means I often have to change the way we run our show. Typically I add more hours, tour guides, or tickets. But now we are doing something all together different: no tours.
When I started as a tour guide in 2008, things at Schlafly were a lot different than they are now. For starters, we were not making as much beer. In the past few years, brewery floor space that once provided an accessible path for large tour groups has been filled with equipment to make more beer. Understandable. After all, we are a brewery that gives tours. Not a tour company that brews beer. Now the limited access we have barely shows you more than you can see from the windows that separate the restaurant from the brewery.
In the early days of Bottleworks, we had no cause for concern for the safety of our customers during tours. Before entering the brewery, tour guides simply cautioned tourists to remember lessons learned from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Don’t touch anything. Watch your step. Don’t sneak off and drink the fizzy lifting drink. Now, OSHA and the entire craft brewing industry are seriously enforcing stricter safety standards for employees and guests alike. Tourists are now required to wear closed-toe shoes and safety glasses and are confined to an area of the brewery marked by yellow paint.
This summer, the challenge for tours is to perform to a growing number of tourists within a smaller area of the brewery while following new safety protocol. So how do you do more with less?
The solution may be to replace the current format (a 30 minute tour followed by a 30 minute tasting) with a new format (a 45 minute guided tasting followed by an optional exit by way of the brewery). In other words you come in, you sample beers, you walk through the brewery on your way out.
Want to see how this works? Come over for a brewery tour. Tours are free. So I promise, if you don’t like it, you can have your money back.
Oh yeah, and please. Tell me what you think. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org