With Beer Dust being live for almost two weeks now, we’re starting to get the word out about our product and what we’re doing.  Obviously in this day and age, social media (this here blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) plays a big part in getting your name “out there.”  However, being a small company made of real people and not some multinational conglomerate, there is still a time and place for face to face marketing.  That’s what this post is all about!

As our first public unveiling, nearly the entire staff of Beer Dust (and some helpers like my wife) are going to take part in the National Homebrewer’s Conference (NHC) in San Diego over June 11-13.  A fun part of the conference has been a growing Homebrew Expo–where homebrewing related businesses get a chance to show off their wares and interact directly with their ideal target audience.  This has changed a lot over the past several years, moving from a few vendors at a small hospitality suite to a large showroom floor populated with homebrew shops, brewery equipment, gadgets, breweries, booksellers, and much more.  Last year in Michigan I spent quite a bit of time between daytime lectures and evening events wandering the showroom floor and taking it all in.  With the continued growth of homebrewing as a hobby, this year’s promises to be the biggest Expo yet.  During last year’s NHC we spent a lot of time planning the product that would become Beer Dust, and this year we are proud to help sponsor the event and be there to meet the public!

Being a brand new business, there were a lot of things we needed to get ready before facing the public.  We needed some decoration for our booth at the Expo, so had to have a banner and sign created for us.  We had to actually get our physical product and packaging in hand.  We needed to get shirts made–both for us to wear during the conference, as well as for some give-aways!  This has all been a very good learning experience, and everything seems to be coming together for the event!

One big thing we noticed last year, was that interactive displays generally engaged the audience more.  This is just human nature–we like to DO things and interact with people, not just look!  So for Beer Dust we wanted to do more than just sit at a booth looking pretty.  In the month prior to NHC, Mike, Keith, and I have been hard at work brewing up some batches to serve to the thirsty folks who visit our booth.  While it’ll be hard to compete with some of the commercial beers on tap at the conference, this still gives us a chance to show off our chops a bit.  Keith (our resident IPA master) brewed up an all-grain IPA, using the Beer Dust IPA formula.  I brewed up an extract IPA kit with Beer Dust just to prove we could do it!  And then Mike brewed a tap water version of each of these beers to compare the results.  At our booth we’ll have some side-by side tastings over the three days of the Expo to make things a little more interesting for those stopping by.  As a preliminary result based on our own taste-off I think the difference is easy to spot, but we’ll leave that up to the folks at the conference to decide.

Living in Minnesota and having to organize for a conference in California resulted in its own set of headaches.  One of the biggest was getting all our equipment (kegs, serving jockey-box, shirts, Beer Dust packets, CO2 and regulator, etc.) out there.  Never fear!  In the end, we have overcome these logistics (and cat wrangling) to get all the stuff we need out to NHC.  And don’t forget that we have to get ourselves out there, get a place to stay, and rental car/cabs…whew!

A couple of us are heading out early to explore the area (beer recon!) and I’ll be helping to judge the final round of the National Homebrew Competition on Thursday.  I hope to see some of you out there.  This has all been a whirlwind of things that need to get done, but we’re all very excited to get out to NHC for our debut.  And let’s not forget all the local breweries, Pro-Night, Club Night, The Award Banquet, lectures, and most importantly–hanging out with thousands of people who share the same great hobby of homebrewing!

–Eric Wentling