Competition Angst – Shipping Beer Entries to GABF

I got quite a scare from UPS when they were shipping my entries to Great American Beer Festival Competition. Here’s what happened:

I go to the trouble of bottling all my V-50 entries for GABF. This is a major pain – one bottle at a time cleaned, sanitized, filled then capped from one keg or serving tank at a time per beer style; change fittings between beer styles, clean, sanitize and set up the Melvico counter pressure filler between each beer style. I am entering five beers into the competition which requires six bottles of each entry: Kolsch, Saison, Porter, Wee Heavy and Auld Abomidable  (an English Old Ale) plus I fill a few extras so I can taste them after the competition to see if they maintain their freshness. When I have all the bottles filled that I need I  go through each style and pick the best fills from the lot and label them for shipping. After getting boxes from friends who are members of a “beer of the month club” (thanks Sinead!) I then carefully pack each bottle into the boxes. I add gel-style ice packs with insulation to each box since it is usually hot somewhere between Leesburg and the bottles’ destination at an Anheuser Busch InBev plant in Denver. Then the boxes are taken to the local United Parcel Service shipping location to be shipped overnight so they are fresh and in good condition for the judges. The overnight service cost Vintage 50 a mere $416!!!

Usually this works, I have been successful at GABF in the past and credit this system with part of that success. When I talk with other successful brewers in the area, like Geoff Lively at Rockbottom in Bethesda who has many GABF and World Beer Cup medals to his credit, their regimen is similar. I then track the package to its destination on the UPS web site. For some reason (running the NoVa Brewfest!), I forgot to check the tracking system the next day, the due date for all judged beer to be in Denver. I remembered to check the following day and to my dismay l find that all three packages spent an extra day in Louisville, Kentucky! I am frantic, they were due the day before and I wasn’t sure if the officials of GABF would allow the beer to be entered.  I send an immediate email to Bradley Latham of the Brewers Association who is coordinating the competition entries and get a swift reply.

“no problem, thanks for letting me know”

Whew…now I am pissed at UPS. I printed the tracking information and went to my local UPS drop off location in Leesburg. The response was ” I am sorry but the only thing we can do is refund your money.”  What can I do, yell at the nice woman who shipped the three packages who now says she is sorry? No way. I take the check for the refund and make Anthony Cavallo, the owner and General Manager of Vintage 50, very pleased to have his $416 back.

Now I wonder how hot it was in that warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky and I hope the gel packs stayed cool.  My poor Kolsch is the most sensitive of the bunch, I hope my babies are OK…..

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~ by billmadden on October 1, 2008.

One Response to “Competition Angst – Shipping Beer Entries to GABF”

  1. Good luck, Bill. That’s a lot of work and it would be very disappointing to have your daughter deflowered in Louisville. No matter what happens, they’re all prizewinners AFAIC.

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