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Draft Magazine: Extreme Beer Collectors

Great article from Christoper Staten at Draft Magazine on Extreme Beer Collectors. This is what we are generally trying to avoid with our bottle release format.

http://draftmag.com/features/extreme-beer-collectors/

The Future of Freetail Bottle Releases (for now)

After  Super Mega Awesome Bottle Release Day, I decided we needed to rethinking bottle releases (again). This time, it isn’t because it was a fiasco or because things didn’t go well… it was because I felt we’d become a little too popular for own good. When I arrived at 7:15am for SMABRD, I was handed a list of 92 people who were already in line to buy bottles. While we are extraordinarily flattered by this, my team and I are all in agreement that we need to tweak things again, especially with releases that involve a small number of bottles.

As is customary for any instance in which I have time to sit in front of a keyboard and expound, I want to reiterate a little bit of our philosophy, which will provide context for why things will be the way they will be.

Philosophical Tenet #1: Beer is the Democratic Beverage

I’ve talked about this tenet to the point of nausea I am sure; but we aim for our beers — all of our beers — to be accessible to all, both in terms of the price at which we offer them and the means by which we make them available. It would be very easy for us to simply increase the price of our special releases and ration limited supply by that means. I have little doubt that we could charge double for some of our beers and still sell out of them in the same time we do now. However, to do so would be to exclude some people from enjoying our beer, and we have no interest in doing so. We charge a price for our special releases that we feel is reflective of our cost to produce them while including a level of profit that is necessary for our business to continue to grow and succeed. We do so with the explicit knowledge that we are leaving money on the table with the goal in mind of building a real, sincere, long-term relationship with our customers.

As such, we’ve gotten to know a lot of them over the years. We consciously resist the temptation to extract the maximum dollars from you for the simple reason that we want you to have enough money to go try some other beers. To take your families out to the park. To hang out with your friends. To go on vacation. And yes, to come back and share another pint with us later.

The other reason we keep our pricing as low as we can is that we want good beer to be a beverage as many people can have access to, financially, as possible. The fact is I’ll never be able to afford to taste the world’s best wines, spirits or foods (or, sadly, be able to drive a Lambo). But insofar as I can think of ZERO reason for this also to be true of the world’s best beers, I’m going to do everything in my power to keep pricing accessible. I don’t begrudge other breweries’ rights to charge higher prices for their product, but I don’t have a compelling reason to charge more for mine.

Philosophical Tenet #2: Trading is Cool, but I Really Don’t Care About Your Trades

Another one I’ve gone overboard explaining. In a nutshell: I think trading is awesome. I simultaneously put traders last on the list of people I care about. I take that back, I put people who illegally resell my beers at a 100% mark-up last… and by a wide margin over traders.

Note, this doesn’t mean I don’t want you to trade our beer. By all means, trade away! I’m actually amazed you can get such awesome beers with our beers, and it is flattering. However, I want to make sure people who want to drink our beer here in San Antonio get it before traders. I think this is a pretty fair policy, if you disagree I’d love to talk about it.

Philosophical Tenet #3: It’s Going to Be Okay

This is a new one, but basically it goes like this. If there is a beer you really want, but you don’t get it… it’s going to be okay. I did spend a fair amount of time in my early 20′s lamenting the fact that that I’d never marry Heidi Klum, but I eventually got over it and… it all turned out okay.

ENOUGH ALREADY JUST TELL US HOW IT’S GOING TO WORK!!!

Okay okay… here is how it will work:

Formal Bottle Releases.

We’ll have 3 formal bottle releases throughout the year: Ananke Day, Super Mega Awesome Bottle Release Day, and Dia de La Muerta. At these bottle releases, we’ll host a bottle share on the patio. These will be the only bottle releases where this is allowed. Some tweaks to the way it’s worked in the past:

  • No one will be allowed on the patio prior to the start of the bottle share, which will occur at 7:30 am. No one will be allowed to consume alcohol while waiting in line to get onto the patio (and, doing so would be in violation of the law, FYI, since it would fall outside of our secured area and public consumption is not legal in San Antonio)
  • As soon as you show up, you’ll get your wrist band, which will be numbered and color coded.
  • Details are still forth-coming on this next part for Dia de La Muerta on 11/2, but we will allow payment and bottle pick-up in advance of opening at 11:00am and will have two registers inside to make payment, which will speed things up considerably. Basically, the bottle process will start earlier, and then you can go back to the bottle share.
  • The bottle share will still end promptly at 10:45 am in preparation for open for business at 11:00 am.

All Other Bottle Releases

All other bottle releases will be done on a semi-silent basis. We will simply put them on the shelf one day. After a few days, we’ll probably send a push notification via our app. After a few days we’ll post on social media.

Some other details on these:

  • We will still reserve the right to limit the number of bottles you can purchase per day
  • We may split releases up. For example, say we are releasing a Jostaberry-Pumpkin Spice Wild Ale (which we wouldn’t do, because that sounds disgusting, but roll with it for a moment). Maybe we put 5 cases out one random Tuesday. A few weeks later we put another 5 cases out, etc.
  • We don’t mind if you immediate tweet out a picture of you in front of the cooler, but doing so of course limits your ability to come back and buy more bottles tomorrow (since they’ll all be gone)

I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch of details, if I remember them, I’ll edit the post (and highlight what I edited).

I know a lot of this sounds draconian and maybe a little bit fascist… but we’re doing it so that we can ensure a smooth experience going forward. In the end, we love seeing you guys and love seeing you have a good time. As always, don’t be shy about your feedback. I’m not promising that I’ve thought of everything or that this is perfect, and I am open to changes if they will make things better and are consistent with the 3 philosophical tenets above.

Cheers,

Scott

Super Mega Awesome Details Repost

This is a repost of the details for Super Mega Awesome Bottle Release Day, this Saturday 9.21. We just wanted to make sure it was up top for anyone who missed it the first time.

With Super Mega Awesome Bottle Release Day ’13 right around the corner, it’s about time we released the details.

First off, based on taste tests this morning, we’ve determined Peche’cus will NOT be ready. We will release these bottles at a later date to be determined. Just to eliminate any speculation now, we will NOT release these at Dia de La Muerta on November 2. I repeat, they will NOT be release at the La Muerta bottle release.

With that said, here is what we ARE releasing:

  • Salado Kriek – American Wild Ale with Cherries. $12/bottle. 700 bottles available for sale.
  • Woodicus – Barrel aged Witicus. $11/bottle. 200 bottles available for sale.
  • Bandito – Barrel aged Outlaw McCaw. $11/bottle. 200 bottles available for sale.

All bottles will be waxed. There will be a limit of 4/person on Salado Kriek and 2/person on Woodicus and Bandito.

With the growth of the popularity of our bottles releases have come the need to make some adjustments to make them run smoother. We’ve made some changes that we feel will make things easier on everyone, while still maintaining some of the traditions that are part of a Freetail Bottle release.

Here is how the release will work:

  • Pre-event bottle share must end by 10:50am, and all bottles will be picked up discarded by Freetail staff at that time. If you are wanting to save something make sure you’ve taken care of it prior to 10:50am. We will make an announcement as 10:50am approaches, but consider this as official notice.
  • Starting at 8am numbered, color-coded wristbands will be distributed that will represent your place in line. A person must be physically present to get a wrist-band. No one will be allowed to pick up a wrist-band for someone who is not there to have it placed on their wrist (even if they “just ran out to the car”).
  • The last wristband will be distributed at noon (assuming there is still bottles available to be sold). A wristband does NOT guaranty you will get bottles.
  • Bottle sales will begin at 10:30am by color-code and number. We will then call groups to purchase their bottles by Color-group and number. For example, if the first color we distribute is Red, we will call up “Red 1-25″ to buy their bottles first. Then “Red 26-50″, then “Blue 1-25″, etc. (Note: the colors used here are for example purposes only and you will not know color groups until the day of). Important: as groups line-up, they will do so in the number of their wrist-band. We will NOT sell bottles to someone who is coming up out of order, even if you are with someone who is in the right order. (So if your wife has Red 6, but you have Blue 13… she buys in her spot and you buy in yours).
  • Any excess bottles will be sold only after all people with wristbands have had a chance to purchase their allotment.
  • Excess bottles will be sold in the same order as the 1st round of sales (so in the previous example, we’d start over with “Red 1-25″).
  • Limit 2 bottles/person on excess bottles.

I realize some of these rules might seem a little strict, but I feel this is the best way to ensure a fair, orderly process for buying bottles. I know people would love to have more bottles, but my philosophy continues to be that we want to offer our beers, even the most special among them, to the greatest range of people at fair, reasonable prices.

Thank you, and I welcome your comments and of course look forward to seeing you on the 21st!

Honoring Our Friends & Unveiling Freetail2

I’m extremely please to announce and invite you all to an event this Saturday, September 7, as we formally unveil the site of our new facility and honor Representative Mike Villarreal and Senator Leticia Van de Putte, who were both instrumental leaders in finally changing those Texas beer laws.

Here are the details of the event:

Date: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Time: 11am – 12:30pm
Where: 2000 S Presa, San Antonio, TX 78210
What: A short program detailing a brief history of Texas beer laws; awards for Representative Villarreal and Senator Van de Putte; formal unveiling of the new space;  and an open house to check out the new digs, mingle and yes… enjoy some beer.

We hope you will come out and check out the next step in our evolution. Here is a copy of the official press release we sent out today:

 

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE VILLARREAL AND SENATOR LETICIA VAN DE PUTTE TO BE HONORED AT UNVEILING OF NEW FREETAIL SITE AT 2000 SOUTH PRESA

Legislative changes paying immediate dividends throughout state; San Antonio’s most decorated brewery begins multi-million dollar expansion

 

(September 4, 2013) San Antonio, TX – Freetail Brewing Co. will announce the unveiling of its much anticipated new facility, located at 2000 S Presa, at 11:15am on Saturday, September 7.

Along with the unveiling, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild will be honoring Representative Mike Villarreal (District 123) and Senator Leticia Van de Putte (District 26) with special awards commemorating their work in the Texas Legislature. Villarreal and Van de Putte were leading figures in the fight for statutory reform to aid the state’s burgeoning craft beer industry. The Guild estimates the new laws – which for the first time allow Texas breweries to sell directly to consumers and Texas brewpubs to sell into the wholesale market – could create up to $5 billion of new economic activity and 50,000 new jobs over the next decade. The news laws were signed by Governor Perry and went into effect on June 14, 2013.

According to Villarreal, the new laws are working as he envisioned. “Freetail’s expansion is exactly what we had in mind when we wrote this legislation. By replacing outdated laws with smart regulations we’re allowing small business owners to create new jobs. I’ll raise a glass to that.”

To benefit from the new laws, San Antonio’s Freetail Brewing Co. has announced they would be building a new facility with the capacity to allow for wholesale production. “At our original location, we simply don’t have the space,” said Freetail Founder & CEO Scott Metzger, adding “We can hardly keep up with the demand for our beer for customers of our pub. Expanding into another facility was a no-brainer in terms of being able to take advantage of these new laws.”

Van de Putte echoed these statements, stating, “This type of business expansion and job creation is exactly what I had in mind when I called together beer and spirits industry stakeholders back in 2012 to reform our Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. The craft beer sector was skyrocketing around the nation, yet Texas’ craft brewing industry was restrained by outdated laws. I applaud the Freetail success story and anticipate many more as Texas’  brewpubs finally catch up with pent-up demand for a great product.”

As previously rumored, the new Freetail facility, codenamed “Freetail2” will be located at 2000 S Presa, occupying 30,000 SF on 1.8 acres, costing an estimated $3 million and creating 15 new jobs. Freetail2 will be designed in order to produce up to 10,000 barrels a year, the new statutory limit for brewpubs. The company’s goal, according to Metzger, is rooted in the company’s heritage. “San Antonio is my home town and Freetail is a San Antonio company. We want to be San Antonio’s beer.”

Saturday’s unveiling will begin at 11:15am and include a brief program introducing the space and presenting awards, followed by an open house and samples of Freetail product until 1:00pm. Representative Villarreal and Senator Van de Putte will be available for questions and to meet with constituents during the open house.

 

Freetail Brewing Co. is founded on the pursuit of creating exciting, innovative and unique world class beer and beer-centric cuisine. We embrace the laid back and fun-loving Texas culture and set out to create products that mirror the lifestyle of our diverse and rapidly growing community. We believe in promoting an increased appreciation of craft products and their responsible enjoyment.

 

For more information visit www.freetailbrewing.com.

 

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Super Mega Awesome Bottle Release Day ’13 Details

With Super Mega Awesome Bottle Release Day ’13 right around the corner, it’s about time we released the details.

First off, based on taste tests this morning, we’ve determined Peche’cus will NOT be ready. We will release these bottles at a later date to be determined. Just to eliminate any speculation now, we will NOT release these at Dia de La Muerta on November 2. I repeat, they will NOT be release at the La Muerta bottle release.

With that said, here is what we ARE releasing:

  • Salado Kriek – American Wild Ale with Cherries. $12/bottle. 700 bottles available for sale.
  • Woodicus – Barrel aged Witicus. $11/bottle. 200 bottles available for sale.
  • Bandito – Barrel aged Outlaw McCaw. $11/bottle. 200 bottles available for sale.

All bottles will be waxed. There will be a limit of 4/person on Salado Kriek and 2/person on Woodicus and Bandito.

With the growth of the popularity of our bottles releases have come the need to make some adjustments to make them run smoother. We’ve made some changes that we feel will make things easier on everyone, while still maintaining some of the traditions that are part of a Freetail Bottle release.

Here is how the release will work:

  • Pre-event bottle share must end by 10:50am, and all bottles will be picked up discarded by Freetail staff at that time. If you are wanting to save something make sure you’ve taken care of it prior to 10:50am. We will make an announcement as 10:50am approaches, but consider this as official notice.
  • Starting at 8am numbered, color-coded wristbands will be distributed that will represent your place in line. A person must be physically present to get a wrist-band. No one will be allowed to pick up a wrist-band for someone who is not there to have it placed on their wrist (even if they “just ran out to the car”).
  • The last wristband will be distributed at noon (assuming there is still bottles available to be sold). A wristband does NOT guaranty you will get bottles.
  • Bottle sales will begin at 10:30am by color-code and number. We will then call groups to purchase their bottles by Color-group and number. For example, if the first color we distribute is Red, we will call up “Red 1-25″ to buy their bottles first. Then “Red 26-50″, then “Blue 1-25″, etc. (Note: the colors used here are for example purposes only and you will not know color groups until the day of). Important: as groups line-up, they will do so in the number of their wrist-band. We will NOT sell bottles to someone who is coming up out of order, even if you are with someone who is in the right order. (So if your wife has Red 6, but you have Blue 13… she buys in her spot and you buy in yours).
  • Any excess bottles will be sold only after all people with wristbands have had a chance to purchase their allotment.
  • Excess bottles will be sold in the same order as the 1st round of sales (so in the previous example, we’d start over with “Red 1-25″).
  • Limit 2 bottles/person on excess bottles.

I realize some of these rules might seem a little strict, but I feel this is the best way to ensure a fair, orderly process for buying bottles. I know people would love to have more bottles, but my philosophy continues to be that we want to offer our beers, even the most special among them, to the greatest range of people at fair, reasonable prices.

Thank you, and I welcome your comments and of course look forward to seeing you on the 21st!

Ahead we forge – a #Freetail2 Update

Last week a local news outlet reported the location of a building we have been in negotiations to move into. I won’t link to that story or reveal the reported location here – I’m going to continue with my plan to unveil the location when the time is right. There are still some details to be worked out, and as of right now we do not have a completed deal to move into ANY space. When we do have a deal, we will be hosting a public event at the new space to talk about the project and to let folks see it. Stay tuned for those details.

With that said, I do have some other details to share! I realize that the audience of this blog is fairly varied, and different parts of the project appeal to different folks. Some posts will appeal to people interested in the technical side of things, while others may be interested in the economic development aspects, which others may just want to know when they’ll be able to buy beer. With that in mind, I’ll try to touch a little bit of everything throughout the process. When the project is completed, I’m hoping people can look back and view this blog as a pretty open and honest document of the process, but in the meantime we do feel the need to keep some things secret until the time is right. I hope you understand.

The photo above are some drawings from our chosen equipment manufacturer, Criveller. We’ve reached an exciting step as we are about to official place our order (which requires a six-figure down payment). We aren’t quite ready to unveil the specs of the new brewery, but we can tell you it is capable of brewing well in excess of 10,000 barrels per year, which is the new statutory limit for brewpubs in Texas. We are definitely planning on maxing out our capacity in the future, and you never know – a switch to a production brewery may make sense down the road. We want to plan to be as flexible as possible in the future.

We’re also beginning the process of working with our architects on schematic design of the new location. While a significant role of the new brewery is to produce beer for wholesale, we still want to design it with the visitor in mind. Freetail2 will feature a tap room and event space designed to envelop the visitor in the experience of being at a brewery. By no means is this a ground-breaking concept, but it is a new one for us. The original Freetail location is designed to accommodate visitors, and the brewery design is shoehorned into the pub. If you’ve ever taken a tour of our original location, you are well aware how tight of a fit it is. I can tell you that our brew staff is most excited about the elbow room the new brewery will afford.

Thanks for reading. Shameless plug time: make sure to follow Freetail Brewing Co. on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (both are @freetailbrewing). Those are the primary sources of disseminating information, and we’ll have an invitation to attend the unveiling of the new brewery there. You can also follow me on Twitter at @beermonkey for some off-the-cuff discussion of Freetail2, beer laws, soccer, politics and life in general.

Until next time,

Scott

June 2013 Freetail2 Update

Given the interest in breweries and brewery start-ups these days, I’m going to try to be as forthcoming and transparent about Freetail2 along the way. Hopefully it should provide an interesting glimpse into the process for those who may dream of starting a brewery themselves, and for folks who are just interested in what we’re up to. I can tell you, that this blog is every bit as open as I am with external folks about this project. I usually direct media inquiries about our expansion plans here as well. So this is absolutely the first place for Freetail2 news.

So, what’s up with Freetail2?

I’m happy to say we’ve identified a property we are really excited about and are engaged in negotiations with the building owner for a lease or purchase. I’m not ready to reveal a specific location or even which part of the state it is in other than to confirm it is in the San Antonio metropolitan area (as I’ve previously stressed). It’s in a building with a whole lot of character and I’m really excited at the prospect of making Freetail beer there. Keep your fingers crossed we can work out a deal.

We’ve also begun the process of identifying equipment manufacturers and internally formulate our vision of what makes a good distributor, since we’re going to need one to bring our beer to the market. On the point of distribution, I will say that our vision isn’t to cast a super-wide geographic net from the outset. When Freetail beer does start becoming available for wholesale, you can anticipate the vast majority being available only in the San Antonio area at first. Once we can get our feet wet with selling beer at the wholesale level (keeping in mind, this is a new business line for us) then we can begin rolling out to other Texas markets as supply & demand dictate. With all due respect to our friends from outside of Texas, our vision is to satisfy demand in Texas before a drop is available in other states. Texas is a big state, so it’s quite possible that will never happen. For comparison, Real Ale makes about 50,000 barrels per year right now (5 times the legal limit of what we’d be allowed to produce as a brewpub).

Stay tuned for more updates on the progress of Freetail2. In addition to sharing the process of building a second brewery, I’ll share more of our business philosophy as we transform from a single-unit brewpub to a brewery available in the wholesale market. The transition should be fun if nothing else!

Cheers,

Scott

 

Okay, what now?

With the passage and awaiting signature by the Governor of SB 515 & 518, there is a justifiable lingering of the all important question of “what now?”

I hadn’t originally planned to make this post, but I saw my colleague Jeff Stuffings on the Beer Advocate message boards, confirming that Jester King has filed for a brewpub license, marking perhaps the first proverbial shoe to drop following these bill’s success in the statehouse.

By switching to a brewpub license, Jester King (which produces around 1,500 barrels annually, per Jeff) will be able to continue all current operations in addition to take advantage of a number of activities specifically permitted by holders of brewpub license holders. Namely, Jester King will be able to sell beer to the ultimate consumer for on or off-premise consumption. Without speculating as to what Jester King might actually do, they will be permitted to sell beer to consumers in their tasting room or beer garden in addition to selling growlers, bottles or kegs to ultimate consumers (should they so choose).

For Freetail, the new brewpub and packaging brewery laws open up the possibility for growth for our business. To date, our beer has been limited to being sold only at our brewpub. With the new law, we will be able to contract with a distributor to sell our beer for resale across the state, up to 10,000 barrels per year. For reference, the only breweries in Texas above 10,000 barrels in 2012 were A-B, MillerCoors, Shiner, St. Arnold, Real Ale and Rahr.

Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity at our brewpub to produce beer for the wholesale market, nor do we have any space by which to expand capacity. To that end, it is highly unlikely that any beer made at our existing brewery will ever make it to the wholesale market.

In light of this very acute capacity problem, we’ve already been at work on a little project called Freetail2 which is exactly what it sounds like: a second brewery. We will build another brewery in the San Antonio area, licensed as a brewpub, capable of producing up to 10,000 or more. In addition to making beer for on-premise consumption or for selling growlers, bottles or kegs to consumers, this brewery will produce Freetail beer for the wholesale market.

I don’t have any more details on Freetail2 to share at this time, but this blog will begin to transition to a living chronicle of the process as we build our new brewery. I’ll share all the details I think you’ll find interesting, with as many pictures and videos I can shoot.

Looking forward to the future of Texas beer.

Scott

 

We Did It! Beer bills on their way to the Governor

This will be fairly brief since there isn’t a lot to say that hasn’t been said already.

OUR BEER BILLS ARE ON THEIR WAY TO THE GOVERNOR!

We aren’t expecting any issues with the Governor, as we have been in close contact with his office throughout the process.

Just a few thank yous. First, to Senators Eltife & Van de Putte and Representatives Smith & Villarreal. Also thank you to all those legislators who signed on as authors and sponsors of our legislation and supported us to the end. A special thank you to a few staffers who worked tirelessly on this to make it happen. Amber, Chuck, Gabe and Margo – the state of Texas is forever in your debt!

A huge thank you and congratulations to my colleagues Brock Wagner, Davis Tucker, Rick Engel, Joey Villarreal, Chip McElroy, The entire ABW Crew, Brad Farbstein, Tim Schwartz, Vickie Jones, Charles Vallhonrat, Ron Extract, Jeff Stuffings, Brian Peters… this list can go on forever. A lot of Texas brewers put their hearts and souls into this, thank you all so much.

Last but certainly not at all least, thanks to Texas Beer Consumers and Open The Taps. Your voices have carried the battle cry for years, and we couldn’t have done this without you.

Cheers!

Hey, what about those TX Craft Beer Bills?!?!

Figured it was time for an update here, since emails and tweets are starting to trickle in asking about the Texas Craft Beer Bills. After all, seemingly nothing has happened since they were voted out of Licensing & Administrative Procedures and sent to the House Calendars Committee on April 23.

Well, I’m here to reassure everyone that there is nothing to worry about, for now.

Right now, the House is understandably tied up wrapping up their own business before they move on to considering Senate Bills (of which ours are). 11:59 pm on May 9 is the deadline for bills originating from the House to be sent to the Senate, so Representatives are squarely focused on that at the moment.

Assuming everything goes to plan, we should see our bills (SB515, 516, 517 & 518 along with SB 639) be placed on the House Calendar sometime next week.

Stay tuned!