Solve the Lineup Headache! ​4 ​Limited-Release Day Solutions

Having a small-batch beer get popular is always a treat. The trouble starts when it becomes too popular and it causes stress on your staff and anxiety in planning the next release.

As the pandemic has continued some breweries shy away from long lines forming the morning of a release and opt to find creative ways to deal with a planned uptick in foot traffic.

These breweries shared with Brewer how they look to avoid issues when it comes to planning a limited release that they expect will sell quickly or cause a lineup at the door.

​Online​

Switching to an online platform to give people a chance to order beer ahead of time for pickup is a way to help.

For 3 Stars Brewing, founder and CEO Michael McGarvey explained that the DC-area brewery has monthly and annual memberships available for shipping and pickup onsite.

“This platform also allows us to track who has purchased and picked up so we can handle these transactions efficiently and track our inventory,” he said. “It also allows us to do presales for our specialty releases and sell tickets to our brewery events.”

The platform allows 3 Stars staff to enforce the purchase of the membership and then the targeted communication when products are ready for pickup to members.

WeldWerks has switched to an all-online sales strategy that utilizes the ticketing platform Eventbrite.

Jake Goodman of WeldWerks explained that using that platform along with allowing a 2-3 week pickup window works together to effectively eliminate long in-person lines and over-crowded taprooms.

“We love being busy, but we’re of course more cognizant of guest and staff health/safety than ever before, so we’ve found this approach works best in the context of a pandemic,” Goodman said.

​Spread The Love​

Earnest Brew Works likes to spread out the impact of a special release over several days.

The Toledo, Ohio-area brewery recently celebrated its 5th anniversary with a new IPA and co-founder Scot Yarnell said the release starts with members of its “Regulars” club first on a Thursday, followed by a general public release beginning Saturdays at 2 p.m.

“The result is my staff is never overrun, my customers don’t have to wait in a ridiculous line, and this gives more people a chance to purchase the special beer release,” Yarnell said.

Learning from previous experiences helps smooth the process as well.

​Set Some Rules​

Over the last decade-plus, ​Hill Farmstead has worked extremely hard to refine and clarify the language around each release.

​”​It is most certainly an ongoing, evolutionary process​,” the brewery wrote in an email after discussing it as a group. ​”​The character and resource limitations of social media platforms like Instagram can make conveying necessary information challenging, but we make every effort to convey and update relevant release information clearly.​”​

With much trial and error over the years, ​the Hill farmstead team has explored various avenues for limited releases,​ including lotter​y systems, silent releases ​along with membership clubs and online sales.

READ MORE: ​Hill Farmstead’s Consumer Focus

​”​Depending on the size of the release and the beer in question, different solutions provide better, more equitable paths to share the beers with as broad an audience as possible, while avoiding the chaos of long lines, hoarding, and secondary market profiteering​,” they said​. ​

​In some cases, ​and ​with extremely small batches, ​the popular vermont brewery will release only ​to ​its reservation-based taproom experience, which ​they said ​ensures not only an optimal tasting experience but a more extended, broader runway for people to enjoy the beer in its natural environs.

Whether it’s a Facebook event or a day-of sign, Lone Tree tries to fully explain to consumers what to expect when they show up at the brewery for events.

“Sometimes we have to be very specific on the wording — and even highlighting thereof with bold letters and design elements — to ensure that all consumers are on the same page,” ​said Lone Tree Tasting Room Manager Mike ​Webster.

​Plan Ahead … After

To alleviate the headaches for employees on the days of selling special and limited edition products there are a few different things Lone Tree will do.

“First, we keep detailed ‘after action’ event notes so the issues aren’t forgotten about moving forward, especially when there are months and years in between,” Webster​ said. “All staff are encouraged to weigh in transparently.​ ​We look over these event recaps for areas of improvement, always trying to smooth the flow of the next event.”

And before the next event hits Webster said they do a ‘walk-through’ to cover where everyone should be for an in-person sale. Things like ensuring that tickets are ringing up correctly and making sure nothing is out of whack by the time the doors open.

“By doing all of these things we are able to envision how the event will run and what issues might arise,” Webster said.

Photo courtesy WeldWerks

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