Last Tuesday Eli Cannon's Tap Room in Middletown, Connecticut held their first ever "Tap Flash Mob." In one night all the draughts were changed to twenty beers from four different breweries whose distributions were just launched in CT. Said breweries were Atwater, Sixpoint, Clown Shoes, and Green Flash. Although there were four brewery's beers on tap the only representative on hand that I could find was Adam Lang, the area sales rep for Sixpoint Brewery. Stepping outside from the madness at the bar, Lang filled me in on some history of Sixpoint.
Sixpoint Brewery is out of Red Hook (in Brooklyn) New York, and they started in 2004. Their brewer, Shane Welsh, was originally from Wisconisn, but decided to launch his line in NYC because of the vast market available, many of whom have great taste in beer. They first had a focus on the middle range of beer: not aiming to make cheap "lawnmower beer," or trying to make the next top of the line Belgian-style beer. Rather, they want to brew a solid craft beer that can be enjoyed by many and not have too daunting of a price point. A fairly young brewery, Sixpoint was draft-only until a year ago.
After expanding to can and ship beer, they now cater to NYC, Boston, Philly, and (obviously) Connecticut. They launched in CT a week ago, helping to fulfill CT's demand for good beer, says Lang. CT has very tough laws on the books that keep many craft breweries from coming in, but those laws are changing slowly but surely (as can be seen with the Sunday sales law that just passed). Though it's tough to distribute in CT, Lang says that it is worth the effort and Sixpoint is looking forward to spreading good beer through CT. According to Lang beer is a growing business. It's not about many small businesses fighting, but rather it's about many different components working to grow the industry together: catering to everyone's tastes.
Mirroring Sixpoint's philosophy of creating good beer culture: this flash tap takeover ensured an event that would get people excited and talking. The mastermind behind this ambitious event was J.D. Crandall, the bar manager at Eli Cannon's. Crandall is not just charged with keeping the bar stocked, but also with scheduling the Tuesday Night Tastings, organizing larger events (like this one), and communicating with different brand representatives. Crandall has worked at Eli Cannon's since 2004. He took a brief break to try corporate life and, when it was clear that the shirt & tie world wasn't for him, Crandall returned to Eli Cannon's to bring his beer expertise to tailoring great beer events, and maintaining the famous Eli Cannon's beer list.
As Crandall puts it, the event was his idea (as it kind of fell into the realm of just ordering the stuff), but he wanted to go bigger and crazier with it, and for that he received strong support from the staff, management, and ownership of Eli Cannon's. As this was Crandall's first planned event that wasn't an established tradition, he wanted to make it big and special. Says Crandall, "At Eli's, we pride ourselves on being the first, the best, and the most innovative in the craft beer community. (. . .) Rather than working the different beers into our regular line up, I decided that we would tap them all at the same time thereby making Eli's not just the place you got it first but the place you got it all first."
People really did get it all first too, with over 20 beers available on the night of the tap takeover and flights available to try the flagships from every brand. To market the event Crandall decided to go a slightly off-kilter route. As flash mops are typically hyped up on social media, Crandall wanted to make the tap flash mob follow the same format. On the days leading up to the event, Crandall delighted the Eli Cannon's Twitter and Facebook followers with a great "viral marketing" style video (which can be seen here), as well as cryptic pictures that, when eventually brought into focus, revealed the names of the four breweries that would be represented. This got lots of praise from the social media base, so Crandall assures me that there will be more of this unique brand of marketing in the future. As for the event, the turnout was huge, people were happy, and even the staff was very excited for the event and this, as Crandall says, "(is) really all you can ask for with something like this."
Crandall is currently working on putting together the annual Beer Gods Week (which was great last year) which will be held from August 6th through the 10th. It will be five crazy nights of eccentric events that will showcase an array of craft beers. Besides this, Crandall also is working on a few more events, which he is keeping under wraps until he is ready to share them. Add Eli Cannon's on Facebook or Twitter to keep current with whatever madness they are brewing up over there. Also, be sure to check out the four craft breweries that just launched in CT at your local package store: Sixpoint, Atwater, Clown Shoes, and Green Flash. For pictures and extended interviews go to this post on my blog: Malted Musings; and then follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Blogger for all your CT craft beer coverage!