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APRIL TRUCK SALE

Here we go again…

pig_headOur next ‘pop up’ truck sale will be this Saturday, April 19 at Pilgrim Park and Railroad Street in Waterbury (the old station lumber site; next to the train station).

We are going to begin a bit earlier this time around so that our sale coincides well with Lawson’s Finest Bottle Release which begins at 2pm.  Sean has informed us that he will begin handing out tickets at noon.

Our plan is to begin the sale at 9am; we should be done by 11am.  This will give beer tourists enough time to get through line and get to the Mad River Valley with plenty of time to spare.

Our previous two sales haves gone off without a hitch. The early arrivals have been very respectful of our neighbors. We have been successful with having most people park right across the tracks from the train station. This leaves us with a clear parking lot in which to get started on setting up the sale. When we are ready to begin the sale, we will once again lead you over to the start of the line.

Thank you for being so respectful to your fellow beer enthusiasts.

So, here is the lowdown on our upcoming sale:

holy_cow_logo-01People have been asking that we brew Holy Cow again, so here you go…

We will be selling Holy Cow IPA and Focal Banger mixed cases.  Limit is 1 case per person.  This case will include 3 four packs of each IPA.   The cost will be $75/case, tax and deposit included. Four-packs will also be available for $13. Limit 3 four-packs per person of each style. Please keep in mind, this will be a CASH ONLY sales event.

We will have more beer to sell than at any of our previous sales. We anticipate having about 350 mixed cases.  We will also have an additional 100 cases of Heady Topper to sell.

hcow_tcard_BACK_ver1Everyone will be allowed to purchase a full case of each until we run out.  Once you pass through the line with your initial purchase, you are welcome to get back in at the end of the line.  It is very likely that we will have additional cases to sell.

Once again, DJ Rekkon will be providing music and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters will be donating free coffee to make your wait in line more enjoyable.

We will be selling limited edition Holy Cow screenprints for $5.  We will also be selling our new DB tee shirts.

Profits from this sale will be going to the Waterbury-Duxbury Education Fund.  Through this fund, we are able to award scholarships to seniors graduating from Harwood Union High School.

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SECOND TRUCK SALE

sprinter_030514Our 2nd Truck Sale is this Saturday, March 8.  The sale will be at the same location as last time- Railroad Street in Waterbury village (next to the train station).

The sale will begin at 11am.  As last time, we will begin forming a line at 9am.  We need to keep the lot clear prior to this time so that we are able to set up appropriately.

The first sale seemed to go very smoothly considering all of the unknowns.  One of the only criticisms we noticed in the post-sale chat rooms was the issue of customers showing up with extra friends for no reason other than obtaining more beer for themselves.  Please don’t be greedy.  This strategy is both thoughtless and completely out of our control at the same time.  Do the right thing.

crusher_logoNow, the important stuff…  We will be releasing two old favorites from the pub-

The Crusher and Beelzebub.  We have approximately 15 barrels of each.  In an effort to get these beers in as many hands (and mouths) as possible, we will be selling mixed cases with a one case limit per person.  So, each customer will be able to purchase one case that has 3 four-packs of Crusher and 3 four-packs of Beelzebub.  The price for the mixed case will be $80 inclusive of sales tax beelzebub_logo(75.50 + 4.50 VT tax).  We will have at least 250 full cases to sell.

If you only want to purchase one style of beer, the limit is 3 four-packs per person.  The price is an even split- $40 inclusive of tax for 3 four-packs.  If you only want to purchase one four-pack or one can of either style, the price will be $15 inclusive or $3.75 for a single can.

We will also be bringing 100 cases of Heady Topper to sell.  The case price on Heady will be $75 inclusive of tax or $12.50 per 4-pack.  There will be a one case limit in place.  When it is gone it is gone….      Locals- if you have regular access to Heady, please be respectful of our visitors who are unable to purchase HT on a regular basis.

So, what is the maximum amount of beer someone will be able to purchase?  2 cases- one mixed with Crusher and Beelzebub and one case of Heady Topper.  The total price for the 2 cases will be $155.

This is a cash only sale.

We will have coffee available, some fun giveaways and tunes by DJ Rekkon.

We will also be selling some great merchandise at our cost- hoodies, caps and knit hats will be available.  ALL proceeds will go to the Waterbury Food Shelf.  So, not only do you get a deep discount on cool merchandise, but all of your money will go towards putting food on the tables of our friends and neighbors in Waterbury.  Let’s see how much we can raise!

We look forward to seeing you Saturday!

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Can Release!

Greetings Alchemist faithful!

It is time to announce our first can release outside of the brewery! As we mentioned in our last blog, we are releasing a couple of beers in cans during a one day sale. First and foremost, we want to make this as smooth as possible for everyone. We will begin selling beer at 11 am. We will be canning 15 barrels of both Focal Banger and Petit Mutant, but an exact yield will not be known until next Thursday. When we can it next week, we will release a more accurate number. The location we have selected has a sufficient amount of parking, and room for lines to form. There is a single port-o-let on site. It will most likely be cold, and this is an outdoor sale, so please dress accordingly. Once the sale begins, we will do our very best to move things along as quickly as possible. If all goes well in this spot, we hope to have more of these pop-up sales in the very near future.

Here are the details:

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Specialty Beer Release

Saturday, February 15

  11am-3pm (or until it’s gone.)

at Pilgrim Park and Railroad Street in Waterbury

(the old station lumber site; next to the train station)

Focal Banger-  an American IPA , hopped judiciously with  Citra and Mosaic,  7% ABV

$12.50/4-pack- inclusive of state tax ($11.80 + 6% tax)
$75/case- inclusive of state tax  ($70.75 + 6% tax)

Petit Mutant- an American Brett ale fermented entirely with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis;

this rustic ale contains almost a pound of Montmorency cherries in each 16 ounce can.

$6/ sixteen ounce can inclusive of tax  ($5.65 + 6% tax)

For more information about these beers click here.

SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER

1. We will not have credit card machines available. Therefore, this is a CASH ONLY sale.  There is a People’s United Bank about 100 yards away.

2. Please be thoughtful when parking your car. We will have someone helping with traffic control and proper parking. We need everyone to park nice and tight and orderly. Please drive slowly and be patient with us and your fellow beer loving friends.

3. We will be limiting people to ONE case of each beer. The Petit Mutant is priced for single cans at $6, but you are certainly welcome to buy four packs($24) and cases($144). These prices are inclusive of Vermont tax.

With that said, if you get back in line, at the end of the line, you can buy more cases. We do this for only one reason, we need to plan for the possibility that we will not have sufficient turnout to sell all of the beer. Past experience tells us that this probably won’t happen, but we must plan for it.

vtfbWe will also be raising $ for the Vermont Foodbank.  We have printed 200 Petit Mutant posters designed by our in-house artist, Jess Graham.  A suggested donation of $5 will go to the Foodbank for each poster-  The Alchemist will match all money raised.  If 200 people each donate $5 for a poster, together we will raise $2,000 for the Foodbank.

Let’s see how much we can raise!

watWe will be trying to bring the local watering holes into this picture by making sure that our local draft accounts have at least one keg of Focal Banger available on tap at opening. It will be available at The Reservoir, Arvad’s, Prohibition Pig, Blackback and Blue Stone. They all serve lunch that day, and all have wonderful and varied draft lists.

Greetings from John

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Greetings People of Earth,

I have been meaning to put out an update on the beer front for some time now.

We are clicking right along here producing Heady Topper.  We continue to make limited release specialty beers each month. Since we no longer have a retail outlet for our specialty beers, we decided to start releasing them at our Waterbury accounts in draft form. The first beer released on draft was Ouroboros. I followed that one up with El Jefe, our dark IPA. In a couple weeks, we will be releasing the first batch of Focal Banger, an American IPA first brewed at the pub back in the day. Focal Banger will be brewed with Mosaic and Citra, and we are working on fine tuning the malt bill. Jen mentioned in the previous blog that we are looking for a location for a second brewery. This is where we will be brewing Focal Banger on a regular basis, offering it as our second canned beer. Until that happens, we will be selling it on draft at our current Waterbury locations. You might see it pop up for sale in cans as an experimental run very soon. This will be a limited kind of thing, due mostly to the fact that we do not have a regular retail location.

We will most likely be pulling special events permits from the state, and putting on ‘POP-UP’ type sales of Focal in cans. Rest assured, we will announce such sales in advance through our normal channels of communication. Please, do not get too excited about this too early. We have a lot to line up before Focal Banger is regularly available in cans. We will be focusing on dialing in the recipe for this beer throughout the summer and fall, therefore, it will be available in one form or another for the foreseeable future.

It has been a lot of fun rewriting the recipes for all of my other beers. Losing everything in the flood has actually become a sort of blessing in that I get to go back to square one with what I want these beers to taste like. We have batches of Beelzebub, The Crusher, and Petit Mutant in the tanks in various stages of production. These will also hit the market in the coming months. The Beelzebub and Crusher will both be available in draft form only, locally only. We have been experimenting with canning the Petit Mutant, so keep your fingers crossed on that one…

Stay tuned and look for another update in the next couple weeks.

John

New Retail Location Status

Wow, the last two months have been a bit crazy around here. The following is an update on where The Alchemist currently stands in regards to a new retail location. Be warned—this is very dull. You may want to skip through to the end.

This past November, we closed our retail shop due to mounting pressure associated with poor traffic flow. This decision was not planned, and we didn’t have a clear vision of our future when this decision was thrust upon us. However, a few days after we announced the closing of our shop, we learned about some new legislation that just passed in 2013. This legislation allows for wineries and breweries to distribute their own product to an off-site retail shop. This was exciting news to say the least. Previously, it was illegal to sell your own beer anywhere other than on the premise of the brewery. Everything sold off premise was required to go through a distributor. Further, you could not sell to any retailer with common investors as the brewery.

We immediately decided that we would find a space for our retail shop. Easy, right? This seemed quite simple—all we would need is room for a walk-in cooler and plenty of parking. We quickly found what we believed was an ideal location for our shop. There was plenty of space, lots of parking and it was easy to access. Most importantly, we were told it was zoned for retail. After negotiating a lease, we found out that the space was not in fact permitted for retail. Although a portion of the property was zoned retail with the village of Waterbury, the original Act 250 permit on the space did not allow for it. (Sound familiar)? So, our potential landlord applied for an Act 250 amendment. Because of our past traffic issues, we were required to have a traffic study done for this amendment. After completing the study, it was determined that we would have to widen route 100 and put in turning lanes to accommodate our retail traffic.

We are not opposed to investing in our town or state’s infrastructure as long as it makes sense for us long term.  However, we quickly realized that this would not be a smart decision for The Alchemist. Besides the huge cost associated with the highway upgrade, the time required to get through all the red tape would have been daunting (simply to open a free standing retail shop).

We have looked at dozens of spaces for a retail shop in the Waterbury area, yet none have met our criteria. We finally realized that we needed to switch gears once again. Instead of depleting resources—both time and money—on a retail shop, we are focused on finding a property where we can build a second small brewery with a retail shop/tasting room.

Although we loved having the public visit us at the existing brewery, it simply wasn’t big enough and we certainly did not produce enough beer to be open to the public. Having no beer to sell four days out of the week is not an ideal situation for anyone. Over the past month, we have had plenty of time to discuss and plan our next brewery. It may evolve a bit over time, but here it is in a nutshell.

We are looking for a piece of property to build a second brewery. Our current brewery will continue to make 9000 barrels of Heady Topper per year. Our distribution company (Alchemy Distributing) will continue to run from this brewery.

Our new brewery will make beer for on premise sales. We will build a large tasting room and retail shop—much like our old shop but bigger and better designed to sustain our customer base and traffic. John has all sorts of exciting things planned in regards to the beer. I will leave the brewery update to him.

We have many properties under consideration and are confident we will find something ideal and close to home. We always envisioned an energy efficient brewery with lots of green space. It will be a great day when we are able to open back up to the public—we love and miss the connection to our customers.

Everything is going great with the distribution of Heady Topper. Our retailers are doing a great job with their allocations, and ultimately, it is a little easier to access than it was when our shop was open. It is also great for some of our smaller retailers—the increased revenue means a lot to them. Although it lasts longer (a retailer may have it for 4 days instead of 1), Heady continues to sell out each week. This is great news as we can always guarantee it is sold fresh.

A special shout out to our incredible staff. They have all been so flexible and willing to work in any capacity during this transitional time. We have retail employees that are driving our delivery van, shoveling out the mash tun, packaging online orders, visiting local accounts—not one complaint and they are all doing such an amazing job! Without them, we wouldn’t dream of building a second brewery.

We are all excited about our future here at The Alchemist. Look for a brewery update from John in the coming days.

- Jen

UPDATES

Thank you, thank you, Thank You to all of our loyal supporters, friends and family as we face our newest challenge. We would also like to give a heartfelt thanks to our incredible staff—you have all done an amazing job rising above the nonsense and keeping your chins up.

Last week we made the decision to close our retail shop beginning November 16th.  This decision was unplanned and prompted quickly to mitigate ongoing traffic issues and public access concerns. Each week our retail shop has become busier and more chaotic—too much for our physical location—and demand continues to grow.

We decided to post the closing as soon as we were aware of the situation. Although we did not have a lot of information to share, we understand that consumers and local businesses depend on our retail shop being open and we needed to get the word out.

Since closing last week, we believe we have found a new, larger space for our retail shop in Waterbury Center. The parking is adequate, traffic flow will be better and there is greater visibility for turning onto and off of Route 100. As soon as we confirm all zoning and public access regulations, we will begin working around the clock to get our new shop open as soon as possible.

In the meantime, while we are temporarily closed, we will be sending extra Heady Topper™ to our current accounts. Several large retailers will be selling full cases for $75.  We have added two extra delivery trucks for the month. We will replenish accounts to the best of our ability until we sell out of Heady Topper™.  We will have an updated ‘Where to Buy’ page on our website this week (hopefully by Wednesday). This page will include delivery days for both retailers and restaurants. We will also try to indicate which retailers will be selling full cases.

We hope to open our new shop before the holidays, but have a bit of work to do. Please keep in mind, we have never had a project NOT throw some curves. We will make every effort to open our new location as soon as possible. Until then, we will continue to produce the same amount of Heady Topper™ and we will work hard to make it available.

 

Q:  When do you expect your new retail location to open?

A:  Hopefully before Christmas.

 

Q:  Where will I buy Heady Topper™ while your retail shop is closed?

A:  At any one of our current authorized retail accounts. All distribution information will be updated this week. We will include delivery days and case price if available. We will also differentiate between retailers and restaurant/bars.

 

Q:  Are you going to increase the price of Heady Topper™?

A:  As always, our suggested retail price is $12.99–$14.99/4-pack. We have not increased our wholesale price since we started distributing over two years ago. If it’s overpriced, don’t buy it.

 

Q:  Is my Heady Topper™ going to sit in a warehouse for a month before I get it?

A:  Hell no! We will continue to sell and distribute everything we make. Heady goes into our refrigerated truck on the day it is canned. It is delivered that day. Our driver keeps a close and caring eye on Heady Topper™ inventory, ensuring it is always sold fresh at our authorized retail locations.

 

Q: Will you be sending beer to southern Vermont?

A: Sorry, no. We don’t want to expand distribution and then pull back in four weeks. We have been down this road before and it is confusing for our customers.

 

Q:  What do I do with my new growler?

A:  Hang onto it—we will figure something out. If you don’t want to wait and have no use for it, please return it to us. We will give you your money back. Please keep in mind, we sold those beautiful, stainless steel growlers at our cost of $15.

 

Q: What are you going to do with the upcoming seasonal beers that were slated for growlers?

A: Our next two seasonals will be available on draft at Waterbury bars/restaurants. We will give more information on these beers when they are ready to be released in the coming weeks.

 

Q:  Were you bought out by [insert Brewery Name here]?

A:  No.

 

Q:  Has this all been some kind of sick marketing ploy?

A: Huh?

 

Thanks again to all of our supporters, friends, family and staff. We will keep you updated as we move along.

Jen & John

A Difficult Decision

From the very first canning run of Heady Topper we have experienced a level of support and growth that none of us could have predicted.  We had hoped our location at 35 Crossroad would be capable of handling the traffic, however with growth comes growing pains. In an effort to stay ahead of the curve we have made the difficult decision to close our retail shop and self-guided tour area. Effective November 15 the cannery will no longer be open to the public.

The good news is this will not affect our production levels. We will continue to distribute to all our current accounts but we are not adding any new accounts at this time. Alchemist and Heady Topper merchandise is available at our online store that we will be enhanced in time for the holidays.

Thanks for your continued support and patience with us during this transition. The support of our local community and the beer community as a whole has been both overwhelming and inspiring. As soon as we have further information, we will share it with you so please stay tuned for updates.

Thanks and cheers,

The  Alchemist Family

Exciting Day!

growler_pair_02Today we started filling growlers at The Alchemist. We have 15 barrels of Donovan’s Red to pour- a favorite mainstay amongst our local clientele at the old pub. It is a 6 percent ABV ale- medium bodied and malty with a sufficient presence of hops.

This has been an exciting day for us. John and the entire brew staff are psyched to brew and release some of our old favorites from the pub. We will randomly release different selections over the course of the coming year- roughly one a month. These beers will lean heavily toward hop-forward styles. We will not announce the beer or a release date until the day of release. These beers will be available on premise only in the form of a growler fill.

Please do not call us to check availability of the specialty releases. We are very much on top of keeping current updates posted to our Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as our website. You most likely have a miniature computer in your pocket, please use it to view the information we provide.

Efforts to Keep Crowds to a Minimum

With this excitement comes trepidation. We know everyone, especially our locals, are excited to drink some old favorites from the pub days. We have worked hard not to ‘hype’ our first release in an effort to keep crowds to a minimum. With only 15 barrels of Donovan’s Red, we will be able to fill about 900 growlers. We have an automated growler fill system that will allow us to purge and fill each growler in about one minute. So, if we fill growlers constantly during an 8 hour business day without any breaks, we anticipate filling growlers for 2 full days. We should have availability through Thursday of this week.

We will also be enforcing the following policies:

  1. There is a ONE growler limit per person, per visit. With this limit, there is no reason to jump in your car and drive 3 hours to visit us for the sole purpose of filling a trunk with growlers to trade or re-sell. It is our hope that most people will purchase growlers to enjoy. A bit idealistic, but we want as many people as possible to be able to bring a growler home- especially our local community members.
  2. We will fill our growlers only. Our German made automated growler system is calibrated for our stainless steel, flip top growlers.

Highest Quality Growler Pour

We have invested a lot of time and money to figure out the best way to fill growlers. We want the same level of quality that you get from one of our cans.

Our Gruber system purges each growler with co2 and we make an effort to cap on foam. The beer will stay fresh for several days as long as it isn’t opened.

We do not want sunlight hitting our beer during travel. We have had stainless steel growlers made for us. When you fill one of these growlers, you will essentially be leaving with a personal size keg.

Price

Stainless Steel Growler- $15 (this is OUR cost extended to the consumer) Growler Fill (64ounces)- $12

Please clean growlers after each use. We WILL NOT clean/fill any dirty growlers!

We hope this is a program we can run successfully. We have plans in place to expedite lines and growler filling as fast as possible. We are going to see how this release flows and are willing to switch up strategy next time if needed.

Thanks. Enjoy. And remember…Don’t be a d-bag.

Expand! Brew More!

By far, the most common question we receive is ‘why don’t you make more beer?’

photo-50We continuously run out of Heady Topper each week and our consumers and our retailers continue to request more beer.

Since opening our production brewery 2 short years ago, we have increased production 600 percent. We are currently making 180 barrels of Heady Topper each week. Although we are a small, independently owned brewery, this is a LOT of beer. If you told us 2 years ago that we would be able to sell this much beer in our small, local distribution territory, we would have called you crazy. The ever increasing demand for Heady Topper is quite unbelievable.

So- why don’t we just add a few more tanks and make more? Well- it isn’t that simple. Of course we realize we need to bump up production in the future to meet local demand. However, there are some very critical issues and initiatives that we need to tackle before this can happen.

  1. INFRASTRUCTURE! We have a building permit and a plan in place to build a new structure on our property. We have received permission from the state wetlands specialist to fill in the back of our property for this building that will give us extra storage, refrigeration and public bathrooms. We will also have a larger parking lot that will be paved with marked parking spots for improved traffic flow. At this point, we are going through the appropriate steps to get final Act 250 approval for this plan.
  2. HOPS! Heady Topper is delicious because it is packed full of premium Pacific Northwest hops. Anyone who is familiar with commercial brewing understands how difficult it can be to acquire some of these flavorful and aromatic hops varieties. All of the hops in Heady Topper are difficult to acquire in large quantities. John spends a lot of time contracting hops so that we can ensure we always have enough to brew Heady Topper. We are fortunate enough to have solid contracts though 2014. We have invested a large amount of money on deposits and pre-purchases to guarantee we will be able to continue brewing without any break.  We are already working on our contracts for 2015.
  3. MINIMIZE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT!  We have grown as much as possible in a short amount of time. Before we add any more production, it is imperative that we focus on initiatives to lower our environmental impact. Making beer is not a low impact industry. We use a lot of water and we create a large amount of wastewater.  Although we compost all biosolids, we still have some work to do to lower our overall BOD’s. We are investigating many options that will help bring our wastewater levels down to the levels of a household.

We understand that the demand for Heady Topper far exceeds our current supply.  We appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm and understand that our consumers want us to produce more.  We will make more someday.  However, we will not simply start pumping out more at the expense of quality. We will not skimp on hops. We will not break environmental regulations imposed by the state. We certainly will not dirty our streams, rivers and lakes. We simply can’t get ahead of ourselves.

Thank you to everyone who has offered up financial assistance or expressed interest in financial investment. However, please understand that finances are not what is holding us back. Also, please remember, Heady Topper is delicious because it is made in small batches with the utmost care. It would not be the same if we were pumping out 50,000 barrels a year. Although we are unable to guarantee you can always find it, we can guarantee that when you do find it, it will be fresh and delicious. This is the best we can do for the time being.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and better understand our current production levels.  I’m ready…

Authorized Retailer Program

In an effort to cut back on black market sales, we have designed a decal for all our authorized retailers to display. When Heady Topper is distributed by us, we will always guarantee freshness and quality as we are certain it has been properly stored and handled. When looking for the freshest Heady Topper available, please visit our brewery in Waterbury or visit one of our authorized retailers which can be found at www.alchemistbeer.com/retail-availability.

Thank you for supporting The Alchemist.