I recently heard a quote about the importance of “authenticity” in the creative process. The speaker was discussing how the journey of the creative process yields the greatest “results” (a relative term in this context) when the creator follows the guidance of their authentic self and pursues the opportunity to express what comes to them without worrying about how it will be perceived by others. As I reflected on their words, I began to think about this event that we are launching in a few weeks and how we can make it the most authentic expression of our creative inspiration in order to provide an experience that is truly unique and thoughtful.
Zooming out for a second - in 2022 I had an idea to make a fest lager that would be perfect for what I personally wanted to drink in a social setting. A very low ABV lager, with thoughtfully curated local ingredients and the fullest attention to process for making the kind of lagers we are becoming known for. It was from this personal desire that Small-Tober, the beer, was born. I figured this would be one of those “doing it for myself but probably not gonna sell that well” sort of decisions and I prepared to watch that inventory sit for a while, but resolved that I would be ok with that, more time for me to enjoy it anyway!
As we got closer to the release, an idea emerged to host a little gathering around the concept. In following with the idea of the beer, we wanted to host an event that captured some of the essence of Oktoberfest, but in a way that felt authentic to us. So we hosted an event, Small-Tober fest, focused on small beers, small glassware, small bands, etc. We really didn't have any expectations for how this would be received, but when the date for the event rolled around, we were amazed to see the turnout and response! The event, and the beer, were a huge hit and, much to my surprise, we moved through the beer much faster than I ever anticipated.
Fast forward a bit - I had an opportunity to travel to Bavaria earlier this summer on a loosely structured beer-cation to visit some of the country's foremost lager producers and beer drinking locales. The trip was absolutely amazing, the beer was phenomenal, the landscape breathtaking, but one of the biggest takeaways was the difference in beer culture. It felt so accessible, so endemic, all ages, all demographics, people everywhere were sitting outside, drinking lager en-masse and the energy was palpable everywhere.
I tried to reflect on what was driving this and I noticed a few things - first and foremost, it was super affordable. The experience of “going out” came with substantially less anxiety given that the cost of enjoying a place wasn’t exorbitant. Second, the vibe was laid back, there’s a lot that goes into this, but one of the key elements was that people seemed un-phased by a limited number of options and a lower maintenance style of service. Things were just a bit more straightforward, sit down, order whatever Helles is on draft (sometimes this is the only option) and just hang out. Last was the service, I’m so used to the western model for bar and restaurant service, being pretty high maintenance and expecting that to directly drive the quality of the experience, but it was different there. The service was low maintenance, it was efficient, straightforward and came without any of the fanfare that I’ve become accustomed to in the USA especially. What surprised me is that this actually made the experience more relaxing, it felt natural, like spending time at a friend's casual party rather than at a public venue.
As I processed this experience, I felt inspired to try and bring this back to Colorado, to foster an experience here that would reflect the vibe of what I experienced in Bavaria, adapted for our local environment a touch but while trying something new, something authentic, that aimed to create a new type of experience for our community to engage with.
Enter Small-Tober Fest, 2023 - as we discussed this event and started to put all of the pieces together, the key elements that came to the front of the fold were these - affordability, low maintenance service, community focus, curated but limited options and laid back atmosphere. The whole point of this is for it to feel very casual, very accessible and welcoming but it will probably feel a bit different to anyone who’s attended a typical craft beer event in America. So what does that look like? Well, in a nutshell, here is what we came up with -
1) Lager Service - $16 gets you 4 pours of lager in the beer garden. (**see details below**) We will be doing table side service inspired by traditional Kolsch service in Germany.
2) Live Music - we will be hosting local bands, featuring friends and neighbors, all day in the beer garden.
3) Local Vendors - we're inviting some of our favorite local creators and artisans to offer a selection of specialty foods and market goods.
4) Beer Releases - we will be releasing 3 special lagers for the occasion, with draft and cans available for each.
5) Keep the Glass - new for this year, our official small-tober glasses are looking siiiick! $24 gets you 4 pours of lager and a small-tober glass, $10 for glass only.
Pretty simple right? We think so too!
The point is to create something different, something authentic and not to follow the typical models for throwing a seasonal beer event. Where most events of this type will center around a lot of fanfare, large venues, giant glasses of beer and the premium price that comes with all of that, we wanted to do sort of the opposite. Our vision is something for the neighborhood and surrounding community, something casual, but thoughtful and curated. Something accessible that would be welcoming to those who are seeking that energetic and social atmosphere but while remaining relaxed and casual, feeling more like a gathering of friends than a large, public event.
I really can’t convey enough how excited we are for this event. While there is always some anxiety in trying something new, it has always been our commitment to bring authenticity into everything we do and if our community has shown us anything in the last 8 years, it’s that you are always here to support that desire and to appreciate our authentic expression.
For this year's event, we’ve decided to host Small-Tober Fest for 5 weekends, starting September 9th. Each event will feature a different rotation of lagers for service in the biergarten, German inspired food, music from local artists as well as beer releases and all of our usual operations inside. To make all of this happen smoothly, we have laid out some ground rules / expectations for attendees so that everyone can be on the same page and get the most out of the event. Here’s what you can expect -
1) Limited Options - each Saturday we will feature two beers for lager service. Lager Service punch cards will be valid for 4 pours of either of the two available beers by way of table service in the beer garden only.
2) Efficient Service - attendees will purchase Lager Service punch cards (aka coasters) at the door on the event day. Each is valid for 4 pours of lager in the beer garden only. We will be circling around with trays of the available lagers and replacing empty glasses with full ones until your coaster is on top of your glass or your card is punched out.
Notes - you don't have to use all of your pours on the same day. If you want to save a couple pours for another time, that's fine! Just hang onto your coaster and bring it back. These are, however, only valid for Lager Service during official small-tober event dates for 2023. Punch cards (coasters) are only valid for one customer per card (coaster).
We will have our full range of core and specialty beers available inside the taproom, where we will maintain normal service, pricing and operations.
That’s it! Pretty simple, but having everyone on the same page will really make for the best experience.
I'll just say one last time, we’re super excited for this. It’s always such a joy to bring our creative point of view to what we offer here at New Image and to see how that is received by our community. We can’t wait to host you and we will see you soon!