For the last 5 months, Shruti Pal has been taking care of customers in the Southbank and CBD areas as a Beer Partner and Business Development Executive in the Beer Collective Co. team. This year, Shruti took part in her first ever Good Beer Week and let us take a peek behind the scenes at what exactly this involved and how she found the experience.
Good Beer Week, now in its eighth year, attracts over 75,000 attendees to more than 300 separate events held throughout the week. Shruti was excited about the opportunity to be involved and we asked her the role she played. ‘What did I do? Well, essentially, I poured beer! I was one of the leads pouring beer at our Goose Island stall at the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular festival.’ This event gave patrons the opportunity to try new and limited-edition beers, including Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, as well as some award-winning favourites. ‘I loved seeing the lengths people were willing to go to for the chance to try our limited Bourbon County Stout. Apparently, and I think for good reason, it was rated as one of the best stouts at the festival this year,’ Shruti explained.
As one of the team’s customer-facing members, Shruti got firsthand experience with the diverse crowd that GBW attracts each year. She was surprised by the fact that it didn’t just consist of dedicated beer drinkers. ‘I was expecting to see more people from the beverage industry but what surprised me was the energy around the festival. It attracted not only the beer nerds, but also a lot of people who weren’t that into beer. I had wine enthusiasts and cider drinkers visit the Goose Island stall, keen to try out our Sour Sisters. It was great to be able to tell them about this style of beer and always amazing to see the surprise on their faces when they tried it.’ Dealing with consumers was the best part of the festival for Shruti. ‘I loved interacting with everyone and I was able to collect some amazing feedback about different brews the patrons were tasting at our stall, and also at others.’
As well as being a great deal of fun, the festival also provided Shruti ample educational opportunities. ‘It was a great chance to get to know what styles are currently trending in the market and what beer styles brewers are intending to trial in the future. This is information that I can put to use in my everyday role.’
The fact that she comes from a non-brewing background did present a few challenges for Shruti. ‘The biggest challenge for me was to clearly understand the nuances of the different brews we were pouring. As you can imagine, the beer festival attracts a huge number of beer enthusiasts who are filled with curiosity and knowledge. They want to know everything about the beer they choose to drink so, for me, understanding the nuances was critical to providing them with a great beer experience.’
With so many events on offer, attendees were spoilt for choice when it came to things to see and do. For Shruti, one of the highlights was the beer and food matching. ‘It was good to see that it wasn’t just about beer drinking. There was a real focus on food and beer matching at the festival, which was really interesting. But I must say I was surprised to see a full information session on beer and cheese matching. Who knew it was even a thing?’
Asked to sum up her Good Beer Week experience, Shruti said, ‘All in all, it was a fun and an entertaining week with heaps to learn about beer and the chance to meet lots of interesting people. It gave me a great perspective on the latest market trends in the world of beer and an exclusive opportunity to network.’
And does she have any advice for other first-timers at GBW? ‘I highly encourage people to get involved if they can in the 2020 Good Beer Week, especially if you’ve never done it before,’ Shruti says. ‘It really is a unique experience that you can draw on as a professional in the beverage industry – you’ll learn a lot but you’ll also have a ton of fun while doing it!’