Dan and I have been going to Analog-A-Go-Go since its inception, and each year it’s grown and changed. Logistically, this year was the best set up we’ve seen. Upon check in, we received a map that showed where vendors, beer and food would be located, but there was still a lack of instruction when it came to staying behind the fence-line with booze. I assume that this is a new ordinance from the town, but a mention of it prior to our stroll over to the air conditioned tasting room probably would have helped us not break the rules.
Analog is always hot. I’ve come to terms with this, and encouraged my husband to start searching for a new partner-in-crime to attend the event with him. This year, though, I had to suck it up and go. I pre-gamed with Gatorade and overjoyed at the water coolers they put out. I also devised a plan to complete the try-every-beer game faster: we each grabbed a different beer after waiting in line and I would try a tiny sip of the ones I was interested in. That way he got to try everything, but we only had to wait in a few lines. It proved an important time saver, and we were out of there before I became an overheated crankypants.
The main draw of Analog—aside from the beer of course—is the vinyl. Some of our favorite record stores, Rainbow Records and Jupiter Records, had booths but various other vendors set up shop as well. The other artisans and vendors this year were impressive as well, and in general the set up was greatly improved from years before. There was a better flow, and a better system for parking than in previous years. Part of this is due to the expansion of Dogfish Head as a brewery. In the years we’ve been visiting the brewery we’ve seen its growth, and the past few years that growth has been exponential. Part of the newest addition includes a truck entrance; directing traffic through this entrance made it easier to have flow between the vendors/beers and the main tasting room (with its glorious air conditioning).
My only complaint was our tour, and I—the girl who hates to talk to people about uncomfortable things—was actually upset enough to talk to the manager about it.
I should have realized immediately that going on the tour with this particular guide would be painful. His mannerisms, his vulgarity—it didn’t sit well with me. I have been on the DFH tour at least a dozen times by now, and several times I had one of the best tour guides ever, John. So, yes, I do hold the bar pretty high, but this young man ticked every box that made me twitch. It doesn’t matter what you’re like when you’re hanging out with your buddies, drinking PBR and being a bro. When you have a job giving tours for one of the larger craft brew companies, you need to project a professional (although off-centered!) personality, and that is not accomplished through dick jokes. Whether he realized it or not, he was representing this 20-year-old company poorly from a hospitality standpoint. The manager seemed on point, though, and I’m truly hopeful that she will address it with him and make him a better representative of the company.
I have lots of opinions on the hospitality and customer service industry, and part of that probably stems from my job in marketing a college. You need to believe in your product—you need to bleed what you’re selling. In my case that’s liberal arts, in his case it’s craft beer that is enjoyed by a demographic that skews a little too old to enjoy a barrage of jokes about “hard wood.”
A highlight of the day (that we actually missed but got to enjoy on our way to pick up a case of Festina Peche before we left) was the unveiling of a sculpture that dispensed beer. A very cool thing, and one of our favorite guys was tapping and handing out samples of beer from the new art piece as we walked by. It complements the Steampunk Tree House that was once at Burning Man and now sits proudly in front of the brewery.
I’ll put it this way—one little hiccup in an otherwise good day isn’t going to completely turn me off from this brewery, especially since I got my gumption up to say something. I can thank them for getting me into craft beer, even if I’d rather spend my time at Burley Oak or Evo these days, enjoying the slower pace and smaller scale. I am happy for their growth, and wish them well with future events.