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Dec 12

99 Pours: From beerista services to beer lifestyle

Microsoft event, August 2009
I originally set up 99 Pours as a Beerista Service. It was intended as a private event pouring service for corporations and nonprofits, where we’d come in, talk about and pour beer. As part of the business, my staff checked IDs to verify everyone attending was legal drinking age, and I consulted with the businesses to identify beers for the event, scheduled breweries for large events and hand-selected bottled beers for small events.

Our biggest event serviced: Over 4,000 people. Our smallest event: About 35 people. The median: About 200.

During the year of operation (2009–2010), I discovered:

  1. Washington state has strict laws and regulations on different types of businesses. We were strictly a “Pouring Service” according to operation model, state license and reporting. People could purchase beer from a store, then hire our Beeristas for pouring and discussion. A lot of people just refused to realize that we were neither a caterer nor an alcohol-sales business. And when the public is confused, this can easily result in state reporting issues.
  2. All events require staff…and I was part of that staff. For some reason, people understood the need to compensate those working with me, but didn’t want to pay me. My staff doesn’t work for free — and neither should I. It takes time to train and schedule 1099 contract staff, making sure each is knowledgeable about the featured beers. It also takes a lot of time to identify beer, food pairings, coordinate setup and teardown, pick up supplies, determine event licenses, etc. etc. etc. These things don’t just happen by themselves.
  3. It takes money to pay for liability insurance. It takes money to pay for business licenses. It takes money to create, operate, and promote a business. “Money, money, money!” (Say that like, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!”) Expenses for running a Beerista Service was simply higher than the business could generate.
  4. Beeristas were hired to serve good beer, talk beer, expand people’s beer tastes, prevent overserving, and confirm legal drinking age. Believe it or not, though simple, this was the hardest thing for people to comprehend when discussing their event. Many potential clients refused to realize 99 Pours Beerista Services was entirely separate from my other business. They believed they were doing me a favor by asking for my time for free… (And anyone who knows me well, knows I have no free time!)
  5. People told me: “Your time at my event = Business advertising for you.” But how is giving away Pouring Services promoting Pouring Services? Duh. It doesn’t. (Which leads me back to #1 and the dissolution of 99 Pours, the Pouring Service business.)

So, that said, if you’re here looking for Beerista Services, I no longer offer them and have ceased licensing of that business with the state. However, if you need a pourer for an event, consult the following list of licensed pourers.

Freelance licensed pourers

Name Contact info Coming From Pouring License # / Exp. Date
Arthur Malik email/phone Seattle 120405810, 9/1/2014
Brett North email/phone Tacoma 120405092, 8/1/2014
Courtney Brutchard email/phone Seattle 120404612, 8/1/2014
Heidi Thompson email/phone Seattle 120405811, 9/1/2014
Jess Flarity email/phone Buckley 120408637, 8/1/2014
Richard Melton email/phone Federal Way 120405512, 8/1/2014
Scott Robinson email/phone Federal Way 120399814, 8/1/2014
Stuart Lowe email/phone Federal Way 120401921, 8/1/2014

DISCLAIMER: Please note, I have no affiliation with these pourers other than having worked with them in the past via 1099 Contract. With a little direction, they worked well together, like a well-oiled engine at our big event at a large software employer. Some have worked with me on smaller follow-up events for nonprofits and corporations. Keep in mind they have varied levels of beer experience, so interview well if you’re expecting them to talk about beer with knowledge and confidence. Any liability from using their freelance services is strictly between you, them and those affected.

My new beer lifestyle blog

So, this brings me to what I really wanted to do from the start anyways…sort of. And that’s to present beer as a lifestyle. A major reason I started 99 Pours, the Beerista Service, was to introduce people to beer, to get them comfortable enough to sample different flavors, to get them excited enough to share beer with friends. But I can also do this by sharing information about my life with beer.

At first I thought I would be able to do write about the beer lifestyle on our beer store’s blog. However, I have found that I am muted there. I cannot speak as openly and honestly as I would like. In one post I shared the frustration of being called a “liar” when unable to attain certain beers; there I also shared information on the legalities of selling beer in Washington state, which caused a big ruckus. My husband requested that post be removed; I agreed and did so. He also requested that if I want to “speak” openly that I do so elsewhere. So here I am, at 99Pours.com. Perhaps here I will be able to speak more freely? We shall see. There are many controversial topics when it comes to discussing the “business of beer,” and I am sure there will be flames coming my way when I post certain topics. Let’s hope I’m fire retardant!

I am also excited to introduce you to people I’ve met on my beer journey. There are so many inspirational stories intertwined with the love of this fine beverage, Beer.

Posts here on 99 Pours will include challenges faced by a small business owner in the “sin” business of alcohol sales, successes as well as daily frustrations, things that sometimes perplex causing a sideways tilt of my head, and so forth… When things are extra controversial or gross, I’ll try to throw a warning up to give you the option to turn away rather than read forward. There will be times where I just have to share such things.

Also in this blog, I will attempt to respect my husband’s privacy. However, I remind him, that my aim is to write as if I were a columnist, documenting highlights of our lives together in this crazy world of beer.

All that said, welcome. Welcome to the new 99 Pours… 99 Pours: comments on the beer lifestyle.

Photo credits: 99 Pours, August 2009

1 comment

  1. Jess

    It’s a bummer to hear that your business didn’t work out =( I had a great time pouring for you and the experience has now landed me a full-time bartending job, so I appreciate all the hard work you did! I’ve started to look into doing part-time work strictly as a bartender for events, and the litigation involved in setting up my own business is daunting. For now I’ll focus on pouring the drinks and let somebody else run the business.

    I will keep stopping into 99 Bottles to say “hi” and pick up the latest and greatest brews! Hope the Innis & Gunn went down smooth ;)

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