It has to be 90 degrees as I step through the crowd of sweaty people carrying their tiny custom LB Fest beer glasses. I make my way over to the TrustedGut tent, and a familiar thought washes over me. "Do people want us here? Does Long Beach need another brewery?"
As we launch this craft beverage startup, we're obsessing over every detail of our liquids, our brewery and our brand, dialing it all in so it meets our standards. But we've only had a handful of opportunities to get feedback from real, actual, sweaty Long Beachers. And this craft brew fest I've just arrived at is the biggest opportunity yet. And by the looks of it, these people are thirsty!
What are they gonna think about our west coast IPA (which we call "Beer"), our fresh mango hard seltzer (which we call "Hard Seltzer"), and our watermelon hard kombucha (which we call "Hard Kombucha"). They're certainly not going to be impressed with our naming system (although there is a artful strategy there, more on that soon).
The IPA has a ton of competition from our talented friends at the other breweries, but the seltzer and kombucha are these exotic oddballs at a brew fest. But as it turns out, sweaty Long Beachers* love them some exotic oddballs.
At first, customers are overwhelmingly asking for beer, beer, beer. Cool. Our IPA is absolutely f'n delicious. But interestingly, after about an hour, I start pouring more and more seltzers and kombuchas for people. It's like they're getting more adventurous as the day (and the brutal heat) wears on. And maybe they just want to try something new.
Then I notice people coming back three, four (or seven) times for the fresh mango or the watermelon. They aren't just being polite. They aren't just curious, adventurous drinkers. They want our liquids.
When we finally drain our last can of kombucha, then seltzer, then beer, they make pouty faces and ask when we're making more. And why aren't we open yet? And could we please, please hurry up and open already?
Does that mean Long Beach needs another brewery? It sure feels like it. We love our sweaty Long Beach.