‘Moving the Coat Rack’

We heard a story a while back about an artist who had a sculpture exhibit going on at a gallery. Near the entry door to the gallery, the artist placed a coat rack.

During the opening, people would come into the gallery, hang their coat on the rack and move on to check out the pieces. The next day, the artist moved the coat rack a foot or two closer to the sculptures and watched patrons continue to use the coat rack.

Each day, the artist moved the coat rack closer to the exhibit until the day came where it was apparent that nobody was going to hang their coat on “a piece of the art”.

The next day, the sculptor placed a sign at the final resting spot of the coat rack saying “The art starts here”, and put the coat rack back by the door.

Three years ago we made our first batch of Birch Beer, made with birch sap harvested near the McQueston River, not far from Dawson City. The beer was pretty well received, although it took five months for the batch to sell through our refillable beer system (the growlers).

Two years ago, the same size batch took four months to disappear. This past spring, we made the same size batch and it was gone in six weeks.

Last year we also managed to brew up an English Mild and a Porter … not exactly earth-rattlingly different, but not really found before in the Yukon market. And we watched people enjoy.

Just before Christmas, last year, we whipped up a spiced ale, nice and dark and malty, but spruced up with cinnamon, anise, orange peel and cardamom. We had no idea how it would appeal – and then watched in amazement as it became our fastest-selling growler beer.

This past fall, we gave a go to a Pumpkin Ale. As we write, there is still some left, but at the rate it is moving, it won’t be hanging around for long.

Making beer is a blast, and is even more of a blast when you can try totally different recipes and techniques. But making beer that is a bit off the wall, but that people enjoy, is a whole other level of reward.

It is a reward for us, for sure, but it is even more fun to watch people come back shortly after trying it – looking for more. It must be like an artist who enjoys making their art, but gets their true kicks watching other people enjoy it.

From a business point of view, it is, of course, nice to see people in your store. But to see people in your store and to witness the diversity of those people, and eavesdrop on the world of conversations that are going on, makes what we do like no other job in the world.

So rest assured that we will keep “moving the coat rack” and with any luck people will continue to “hang up their coats”.

This column is courtesy of the Yukon Brewing Company, an organization that uses coat hangars … but appreciates a good coat rack metaphor.

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