by Kelly Gallagher
Planning the broad and fine strokes of a brewery tour takes a bit more doing. Some things to consider while designing a brewery tour include:
Customer attire
Employee dress codes aren’t all you may want to enforce. Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, NY has banned bare shoulders, dangly jewelry, open-toed shoes and items in shirt pockets from tours. According to the company website, these rules are safety measures meant to protect guests, staff, the brewery and the beer. To compromise, the brewery provides clean, sleeved shirts, disposable socks, and closed-toe shoes for unprepared guests to use during the tour.
Regional laws
According to Nancy Palmer of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, there are currently a handful of states that “do not allow beer factories or production breweries to sell beer for neither on-premises consumption (pints) nor off-premises consumption (packaged beer).” Breweries located in states with these and similar restrictions often get creative to achieve business goals while still falling in line with regulations.
In July 2015, the State of Georgia passed a law known as “The Beer Jobs Bill” which allows breweries to “sell a tour” that just happens to include packaged beer that can be taken home, thus legally skirting around the state’s ban on selling beer at a brewery. Previously, in order to give out beer on a tour, many breweries chose to sell a commemorative glass and gave out free samples. As a result of the new law, breweries can invest in higher-quality glassware, eliminate the hustle and bustle of giving out samples during tours, and in some cases, totally redefine the meaning of the word “tour”, sometimes going as far as allowing guests to take “self-guided” tours by placing information around the brewery, thus resulting in customers fulfilling the tour requirement with a mere glance at some signage.
What is included in your tour?
Not every guest is going to necessarily want to sample beer, or be interested in taking home a commemorative beer stein. It may be best to offer different packages with adjusted prices to fit a variety of guest preferences. Some tours could include packaged beer, beer by the glass, or an extra peek at a special aspect of the premises. Perhaps tours given past a certain time of day could include admission to that night’s live entertainment. A VIP tour might also be a great opportunity to allow guests to sample limited-release beers that not intended for package sale.
Who is giving your tours?
When you’re providing guided tours, it is essential that your host is friendly and energetic. Making a group feel welcome and comfortable is key, as is the ability to maintain an engaging atmosphere. A confident, knowledge tour guide is one who has been adequately trained in all aspects of the brewing process and in the company history, and in any other pertinent information that influences your product.
Add a little flavor
If you’re located in a region with many breweries, you want to make your tour stand out in some way. Pick something that’s special to your particular brewery and find a way to emphasize it. Is the brewery housed in a unique building? How does the brewery relate to the nearby geography, or factor into regional history? Perhaps it would be a good idea to showcase a rare piece of equipment or have a small museum containing curios or memorabilia for people to observe before or after the main tour. Make your tour as unique and memorable as your products.
Time management
A guided tour that is too short might leave customers wondering what exactly they paid for, while one that is too long will leave people antsy and tired. Make sure you strike a balance, and decide how you can make sure people see everything they need to receive a comprehensive picture of your products and company without making them feel as if they need a nap.