Category Archives: Swashbuckler Brewing Company

Swashbuckler Brewing Company

40/40 was winding down…the second to the last night. I had kept some local places available because I was sure that by the time I got to the end, I was going to be breathing fumes and drinking foam. Having something close would be perfect.

The battle plan did not work out for one the two. Here is the story. My damsel and I galloped up to the grounds of the Renaissance Faire on a Thursday night  to have dinner and beers at the Swashbuckler Brewpub. When we arrived,  the place was a ghost town.

CLOSED…..AAAARRRRGHHHH!

As a head’s up, the next three reviews of places won’t be the best in terms of positiveness…I want to get these 3 out of the way and end on a high note with the remaining reviews after that. Fair? Er, Faire?

Before going, I had seen the days open and hours on the information screen shot on  Facebook:

Not corrected as of July 10…

Then, I saw this on the Swashbuckler Brewpub website:

Not corrected as of July 10…

Then, I called and the the voicemail message, since changed, for Swashbuckler, said that they were open Thursday nights.

In the interest of faireness, the main page of the SB website shows this:

I know websites sometimes are not updated and I wasn’t sure when the festival season ended and began…and based on the information that was available, and a posting on Facebook that was fairely recent, we proceeded:

Not corrected as of July 10…

It was frustrating because my gut was telling me to double-check so I did. When the voicemail message said that they were open on Thursdays, then I proceeded with my plans to go. Another frustrating piece from the voicemail said that Swasbuckler does not return messages. I was thinking that was really odd…like somehow the Renaissance  Faire does not operate according to the same basic rules of any other customer service basic business protocol out there. It struck me as very feudal and antiquated. Almost aristocratic, let them eat cake type of thing.  The first time that was said, head’s literally rolled…

I am a big fan of social media and internet-driven resources and information. 40/40 truly would not have been possible without it. Add to this the massive amount of computer-like resources available on the I-Phone (like GPS, the camera with the email function, Facebook App, Maps, Notes, Twitteriffic App, Starbucks App–when I desperately needed some strong coffee in Erie, Goggle App search engine and Google Maps, BAC (Blood Alcohol  Calculator) App, the Philly Beer Week App, and etc) and literally I came well-armed for the jousting that was 40/40.

Technology, the internet, and Social Media are upsetting the apple cart in many industries, letting smaller players who are savvy, gain a foothold and establish a following . To buy space in a newspaper or time on TV for ads, is prohibitively expensive, and this caters to those companies already on the top of the mountain or at least well-established on the mountain. Smaller firms and start-ups climbing can’t compete horse for horse with this. That battleground favors the well-equipped forces that represent the landed gentry. This change has huge implications for microbreweries.

But, first let me lay down some more generic insights…

There is a big caveat here. The new tools, weapons, and techniques, can be mishandled by the upstarts. Generally, such entities should keep to what they can do well. For example, having a Facebook page is great. But, if there is no updating with new information–or worse yet, as in the case of Swashbuckler, the information is actually incorrect, the damage can be incalculable. Most of the people who experience some disconnect with the technology, unless they are really upset, will never let you know. They will just go elsewhere. And, probably, to a more well-established and stable competitor. And maybe put their disgruntledness on the web like me via a blog that gets some attention…

As a background to issues such as these with technology, I recently left a voicemail for a flooring company to call me back about some work that I needed to have done to replace a kitchen floor. After a week, I called back and asked the dude if he wanted my work because it sure did not seem like it because I had not heard back from him. Since I had talked to him previously in person and found him (the owner) to be a good guy, I gave him a second chance. It was only later that he found out that Sprint (or whatever name they are operating by now to escape their poor customer service for years), had never forwarded 28 voicemails to him until 10 days later. Here is the point…I was the only person, besides one other, who even bothered to call back. The owner thanked me yesterday for calling as he did not know of the problem. Most disaffected potential customers just never come back, and most businesses never know that they lost them because of the failure to close the loop. In this guy’s case, it was not his fault. But, how about when it is?

Same deal with websites. First, cheap websites do more harm than good. Ten years ago an entrepreneur could buy Microsoft Front Page and put up a self-designed website, and be cutting-edge. Today, it is critical that the website is slick, well-designed, and highly functional. If it is just the Yellow Pages on the web with a picture or two, it is not going to be effective. And, if the information is wrong and/or unclear, as is the case with Swashbuckler, your credibility rep suffers. People like me wonder who is minding the ship and store as it were.

How does this pertain to microbreweries? The Big Brewers control the levers of power. And, those levers will break your neck if you are not extremely careful. Wrong moves can be fatal…

For instance, last night I watched Jimmy Kimmel and he had on the new rapper Drake whose album is number one on the charts.  Setting up Drake was a mock rap video he and Kimmel did that was really clever about the inane tweets of celebrities as a montage put to music. Before Drake came out to chat with Kimmel and then perform , Adam Sandler–one of the most likable and funny comedic actors on the planet–joshed it up with J.K. about a new film and other stuff.

When Drake hit the stage, things were at a fever pitch. He is a talented dude, highly charismatic, good-looking, and musically/lyrically gifted.  You know who sponsored the stage? BUD LIGHT. This is how the Bigs stay fresh and hip. They continuously co-opt the best talent out there and have them fight on their side. So, Bud Light looks about the hippest and coolest beer on the planet by association. The Old Guard dressed in new shiny armor. Beer commercials attract the biggest and most talented gurus in the ad biz because the money to be made is so good. It is a huge competitive advantage.

Here is my main point. When microbreweries have rude and obnoxious bartenders, or ridiculously-priced flights/samples, or incorrect information on websites and other social media, or just bad beer (in an upcoming review), or you are playing footsies with the Big Boys under the table (selling their products or leaning on their distribution network too much ), guess what? You are going to lose the fight and never know what hit ya. I have already named names in my blog and don’t feel as if I should call them out again. Or, I will call them out if I have not already done so. Once, is enough.

You have to be smarter, not stupider, than your well-equipped competition. It is a battle for the hearts and minds of the beer buying public. It behooves microbreweries to not be simple-minded about it. David won the battle with Goliath because he did not fight in a way that catered to Goliath’s strengths. Instead, David attacked Goliath according to David’s strengths. The selected stones have to be aimed properly for them to be effective…it is not my job to point out the obvious. I do it because I think the craft brewery movement is a part of a much bigger and profound battle, one where the average American consumer is being treated like a pawn and a serf. The Bigs think they can mesmerize us like Milton with a potion of allurements that hide an agenda that ultimately treats people as means to ends…higher profits at the expense of ethics. Sorry, I won’t go down without a fight…

BTW, the night could have ended poorly. Instead, we went to JoBoy’s BBQ and Brew Pub in Manheim and had some of their in-house microbrews and bbq. It was along the way home. I am really starting to like that place!

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