District Beer Hunt – A Retrospective and Tonzi’s View
What a weekend!
This was a huge event for us. Well, that’s an understatement. I can’t come up with strong enough words to really describe how big this event was.
The District Beer Hunt started as just a crazy drunken idea while watching Monday Night Football. I and my fellow J Street Beer brethren kept kicking the idea around, trying to figure out a way to make it work. We were going to attempt to do it ourselves, just for fun. Eventually we realized we could throw it together and have whoever felt like participating jump in.
The idea progressively got bigger. I spoke with a few friends and some bar staff and managers to see if it was something that they would be interested in taking part in. Surprisingly, everyone was excited about the idea. I called in the big guns at DCBeer.com to see if they could lend a hand, and did they ever. Bill was there to help with a lot of the logistics. He has great connections. And before long we had 10 bars willing to take part and happy to help the idea turn into a great event. The final piece to the puzzle was Flying Dog. Once they said they were in, we knew we were good to go.
We organized the general ideas and got together a post and signs to put up around the city. The original Beer Hunt post went up about a month before the event. Within the first week we had about 15 teams signed up. I was hoping to have 20 teams for the event, so we were well on our way! After the initial push, things quieted down. We had a few teams trickling in, nothing too exciting. With a week to go before the event, we had about 25 teams. Better than we had expected, definitely. That’s when things started to get out of control.
On Wednesday, just 2 days before the event, it seemed like we were everywhere! DCist.com, WashingtonPost.com, WashingtonCityPaper.com, Thrillist.com, UrbanDaddy.com. The amount of hits our site was getting jumped from around 200 to 2,000. Pre-registrations were pouring in! (and to make things more exciting, my wife went into labor! but I’ll tell you about my incredible new baby another time) Bill took over the final logistics (since I was in “new daddy mode”) and got the last few pieces in place before Friday rolled around.
We ended up with 62 teams (not bad, considering we were hoping for 20, and had expected 40 at most). We ended up turning a handful of teams away (we’re incredibly sorry about that). But, considering we were flying by the seat of our pants, everything turned out really well.
The core idea of the Beer Hunt seemed to shine through. We wanted people to try beers that they’ve never tried before. Gain a new appreciation for what small brewers across the country are doing and find something new and out of the ordinary that surprises and pleases their taste buds. We wanted people to go to bars they’ve never visited. See what else is out there besides their local watering hole. There are new and exciting places opening up all the time around this city, you gotta get out there and check them out. I heard plenty of comments from people saying, “this is my first time out here, this is great!”, “their menu looks awesome, we’ll have to come back”, or “I’ve never had this beer before, it’s really good”.
I couldn’t be prouder of how the District Beer Hunt turned out.
Thank you to Bill over at DCBeer.com for keeping the train on the tracks. Thank you to all of the volunteers who sat at the bars for about 20 hours over 2 days; now that’s commitment. Thank you to Flying Dog for supporting our idea. Thank you to all of the participating bars, hopefully you’ll be getting a bunch of new regular customers. And last, but not least, all of the participants; you turned a crazy idea into an event that will be talked about for some time to come. We appreciate all the support from everyone involved.
P.S. – My new baby girl is absolutely incredible! (I’m going to keep it at that before I spend then next hour talking about her) I love you little Ellie!