Great Divide: Great Beer, Great Customer Service

Great Divide Brewing Co. has been one of my favorite breweries since I became passionate about craft beer. Their Yeti series brought me over to the dark side and showed me there was much more to stouts than Guinness (ugh), and the rest of their regular brews and seasonals have really impressed me.

I’ve had most of their catalogue, but there are a few that I haven’t picked up yet, including their Old Ruffian barley wine. There’s plenty of it around here both in and out of season, but I had never picked up a bottle until a few weeks ago. I put it in my cellar and decided I’d crack it open sometime down the line.

While rearranging my cellar – read: closet – a couple weeks ago, I was checking out some of the bottles and noticed the bottle of Old Ruffian I picked up was bottled on Dec. 2, 2009. Two things crossed my mind: 1) Awesome. I snagged 2-year-old bottle of awesome barley wine. 2) This thing has been sitting on the top level of a store shelf for more than two years.

Barley wines get much better with age, at at 10.2% ABV, I figured it would hold up well. But still, sitting on a store shelf as opposed to a cellar for 2+ years isn’t really ideal storage conditions. I figured I would shoot the guys are GD an email letting them know some not-so-fresh product was floating around. (I know a lot of craft brewers are sticklers for having their latest and greatest on shelves, so I figured a heads-up would be all right.)

Later that afternoon, I received a reply from someone in GD’s quality assurance office thanking me for letting them know. They said they would get in touch with our local distributor and try to get some fresher stuff on the shelf.

Then they took it a step further. The rep offered to send me a fresh bottle of Old Ruffian straight from the brewery or a GD t-shirt, whichever I wanted. I had heard brewers offered refunds or replacement bottles to people who had issues, but I was never fishing for anything by letting them know. I just wanted them to be aware of what was out there. Still, the offer was greatly appreciated, and I picked the t-shirt. (I’m sure I can find a newer Old Ruffian around town.)

Last Friday, before I headed out for the weekend, this arrived in my mailbox:

This is a great example of customer service. In addition to clearing up the problem, they wanted to make sure the customer was left happy, which I definitely was. I’ve heard this is sometimes the MO of craft brewers – to give consumers some type of compensation if they’re not pleased – but I wasn’t looking for a handout by emailing them. As a fan, I just wanted to make sure fellow drinkers got the best experience.

So, cheers to Great Divide and all the folks that work there.

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