Working at Tröegs definitely has its perks, but perhaps my most memorable experience thus far was capturing the coveted "Metal Brewer" trophy this past Monday night at the 2012 Metal Brewer Challenge! If you are scratching your head in confusion right now, then perhaps I should offer a bit of backstory.
Several years ago, John Trogner came up with the concept of a co-worker party based around the popular Food Network series Iron Chef. The premise was simple. Tröegs co-workers would sign up to participate, get split into teams, and finally take part in a competition centered around a home-brewed beer, a food pairing, and a marketing presentation. In keeping with the theme of the TV show, there is also a secret ingredient that must be used in the beer recipe. Seems like a pretty awesome concept, doesn't it? Since its inception, the Metal Brewer event has garnered legendary status among Tröegs employees and hardcore fans who happen to be friends of the brewery and its employees. Prior to Monday night's event, I'd been asked by brewery manager (now my boss) Ed Yashinsky to be a judge for the competition held in 2010. I inevitably had a gig with one of my bands, so my good buddy Deuane took my place as the "local beer geek" on the panel of judges.
|The Stanley Cup of Tröegs!|
For this year's 2012 event, a total of eight teams participated in some pretty "stiff" competition. There was a lot at stake. For starters, bragging rights! The winning team would also receive a bitchin' (and extremely heavy) Metal Brewer trophy, the Stanley Cup of the Tröegs Brewery world. Also, losing the marketing competition simply wasn't an option, given the fact that I was hired by the brewery to handle its marketing duties. But most awesome of all is the fact that the winning team will get the chance to brew its beer on the Tröegs Scratch Beer system! How's that for incentive?
|Picture used in our presentation to discuss "packaging."|
This year's secret ingredient was "roots," so we could use anything like ginger, licorice root, yams... you get the picture. Once we settled on using red beets and creating a beet Saison, I thought, "Well roots are bulbs, so let's keep it low-brow and go with a name like... Bulbous Knob." This opened up the door for a series of dick jokes longer than the infamous penis of 70's porn star John Holmes. The opportunities for sexual innuendo and double entendres were limitless! My team was on board with me right from the start with regards to the marketing piece, which made me pitch the proverbial tent in my pants.
|Bulbous Knob Brewing Company's phallic logo.|
Our team consisted of the following Tröegs co-workers: myself, Jon Kaufman (an ex-student of Brewslut's), Dane Youtz, Matt Lett, and Matt Hasson. Since I was primarily responsible for the marketing presentation, that left a few other positions available. Dane had the most brewing experience, so he was a natural choice for the Head Brewer position. Matt Hasson is a Tröegs sales rep, so he was put in charge of handling the majority of the sales presentation. Jon and Matt Lett, who both work in the Snack Bar kitchen, took care of the food pairing and recipe, which turned out to be quite an interesting dish: The Bulbous Knob Dill-Doe (doe venison steak prepared with dill seasoning). Jon came up with the name (way to embrace the Bulbous Knob philosophy, Jon)!
|Bottom pic (l to r): Dane, me, Jon, Matt H. and Matt L.|
As I mentioned earlier, our beer was be a red beet Saison called "Beet It," a play on words that was a no-brainer to work into the marketing presentation for a brewery called Bulbous Knob! I thought it would be funny to work in a Michael Jackson reference (for obvious reasons), and designed the following beer label:
|Label for "Beet It" - based on Michael Jackson's red zipper jacket|
For the marketing presentation, I really wanted to do a video project and incorporate music, but I ended up going with a Powerpoint presentation due to procrastination and lack of video editing experience. We also handed out fake brochures, newsletters, business cards, and drink coasters to the judges. Despite some criticism from a few participants, I knew that dick jokes would get big laughs. While there were many fantastic beers, I just felt that the chemistry of our team was unmatched and the presentation brought everything together as a whole package (no pun intended). We essentially created an entire fictional brewery, complete with upcoming beers called "Money Shot Cream Ale," "The Morning Wood," and one I'd been dying to use for years... Ballzonchin Pale Ale. All in all, it was a really fun event that came together quite well. The food was great and the beer was, of course, awesome. We celebrated our victory by filling up the trophy with "Beet It" and passing it around for everyone to take a chug. Perhaps the Bulbous Knob team will re-appear at next year's event. Next year's slogan: Slob on the Knob! I can't believe I missed that one this year!!!