St. John Brewers representatives handed out around 7,000 samples of several of their products at the Atlantic City Beer Festival.
Thousands of people in Washington, D.C., and Atlantic City, New Jersey, recently got a taste of the Virgin Islands thanks to Kevin Chipman and Chirag Vyas, the guys behind St. John Brewers.
The two represented their brand and the Virgin Islands at the Craft Brewers Conference, where they rubbed elbows with reps from other craft breweries like Sierra Nevada, and at the Atlantic City Beer Festival, which was attended by more than 20,000 people.
In Atlantic City, the duo estimate they reached around 7,000 attendees with samples of their products.
“We were sampling out our beers to the masses,” said Chipman. “People get really excited about the Tropical Mango Ale. That’s our only product that’s sold nationally, and it’s what put us on the map.”
St. John Brewers also offered samples of their Island Summer, Island Hoppin’, and Liquid Sunshine Ales to event-goers, many of whom recognized the St. John Brewers name because of their distribution in the New Jersey area, or because of previous visits to the territory, Chipman explained.
“We saw people wearing our shirts,” he said. “A lot of people told us, ‘I’ll be honeymooning in the Virgin Islands in May,’ or ‘We come down every year.’”
“These events help showcase St. John to an audience that has either visited or plans to in the future,” said Vyas. “Craft beer drinkers are a key demographic as they tend to be adventurous and appreciate quality products, which St. John embodies. Those that have visited the Virgin Islands in the past often share their experience with their fellow craft beer enthusiasts, who may be visitors in the future.”
In addition to reaching out to potential island visitors, Chipman, who manned the St. John Brewers booth with the help of some friends and family, got to have some fun as well.
“It’s a fun event,” he said. “They have a lot of food vendors there. There’s music — Rusted Root played the final show on the last day — and they have a rodeo bowl, a silent disco, sand sculptures, and a lot more.”
While the Craft Brewers Conference, a week-long event for craft brewing professionals, served as more of an educational experience for Chipman and Vyas, it also gave them the opportunity to get the word out about their products and the Virgin Islands.
“We met brewers from a small brewery outside Juno, Alaska,” said Vyas. “It was interesting to talk to them about the challenges they have brewing in remote regions. We’re definitely going to build a relationship with them, and look forward to a possible collaboration.”
The Craft Brewers Conference couldn’t have come at a better time for the brewing duo, as they look forward to opening their own on-site brewery to the public. Located just across the parking lot from the Tap Room, the brewery has already been churning out small batches of unique products, like their Double Prop IPA, Roundabout Coffee Stout, and their winter seasonal Frozen Cistern Ale.
“We came away with some new ideas to improve our brewing capabilities here in the Virgin Islands,” said Vyas. “We’re coming back with a new perspective on how to operate our new brewery, which we hope to open to small tours within the next few months.”
In addition to the brewing side of things, Chipman and Vyas learned a lot about managing their growing business. Craft brewing is the only part of the beer business that’s growing at the moment, Chipman explained.
“The amount of microbreweries has doubled in the past 10 years,” he said.
“A lot of the lectures and seminars focused on how to handle growth,” said Vyas. “Everyone seems to be growing in this industry.”
This was St. John Brewers’ sixth time attending the Atlantic City Beer Festival, and their second time attending the Craft Brewers Conference.