The Thirsty Beagle

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Roughtail dishes lesson on customer service, owning social media

by Nick Trougakos Published: January 23, 2014
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I really love good customer service. Maybe that’s not even a sentence worth typing, because really, who doesn’t like good customer service? As a Disney addict — Walt Disney World is the place I’ve repeatedly seen the best customer service of all time — I feel I’m especially qualified to comment on what is and isn’t good customer service. (I also deal with customers from time to time as a newspaper editor, so there’s that, too.) Sometimes, you don’t have to be an expert on a topic to know when you’ve seen something good. Take this picture, for example:

That is a glass of Roughtail Brewing’s Polar Night Stout posted on a local beer forum on Facebook. The floaties in there are yeast sediment. Completely harmless, but as the poster of the photo wrote, they were somewhat off-putting to see.

Turns out, Roughtail brewmaster and co-founder Tony Tielli agreed. Tielli responded to the photo with this comment:

“I apologize for that can. That’s totally unacceptable and we are currently working on a couple things to improve QC in regard to clarity, and ensuring yeast sediment doesn’t make it into the cans. While it is totally harmless, it’s not what we want to put into your glass and I wouldn’t blame you one bit for dumping that one out. I’d like to buy your next 4-pack to make it up to you, and hopefully we will have all of those kinds of kinks worked out before the next canning run.”

Subsequently, someone on the forum posted a photo of a glass of Routhail IPA which showed a small amount of yeast sediment in the glass.

Tielli then started his own thread on the forum:

“Hey everyone, I just want to take a moment to address the few reports of yeast sediment or “hop trash” in a few cans of IPA and Polar Night that I’ve seen on here.

First, thank you to the people who have provided this feedback, and a huge thank you to those of you buying and drinking our beer.

At Roughtail, we like the fact that our beer is unfiltered and natural, but the sediment occurring in what appears to be some, but not all, cans is not part of the plan and is unacceptable. Up until this point we’ve been using two things to clarify our beer. First, a kettle fining commonly known as “Whirlfloc” or Irish Moss, which is added to the boil kettle to help drop out protein and other naturally occurring solids during the boil (this, along with all the spent hops and other solids are left behind in the kettle when the clear wort is transferred to the fermenter). Second is time and temperature, we drop the beer to 32F after fermentation and hold it there for a few days to drop out the yeast and hops prior to sending it to the bright tank for carbonation and packaging.

This process has worked reasonably well for our kegged beer, however it is not providing the level of clarity that we expect in our cans.

In order to remedy this, we are making two changes. First we will be increasing the cold storage time by at least two days, second we are now using a bright tank fining, a product called Biofine Clear, which is an industry standard and used by many craft brewers including other local Oklahoma brewers. This fining agent binds with suspended yeast and drops it to the bottom of the tank, where it is discarded prior to packaging leaving behind brilliantly clear beer, without stripping flavor.

Our first trial run with this new process on a batch of Red Republic was a smashing success, the samples from the bright tank and the beer we put into the kegs was crystal clear and beautiful. I’m confident that the same will apply to our canned beers as well.

There is still a good amount of cans out in the market and in the distributors warehouse, so this change won’t happen overnight, or on the next can you drink…but I can promise that you can expect much clearer, sediment free cans from us in the very near future.

Once again, thank you all for supporting us and drinking our beer. We’re having a brewery tour and tasting on Sunday January 26th at 1pm, I would love to see you all there and show you the process in person!

Tony Tielli
Brewer & Co-Owner
Roughtail Brewing Co

Customer service? Owned. Social media interaction? Owned. Kudos to Tielli and Roughtail for putting themselves out there and refusing to accept anything less than the best for their products.

by Nick Trougakos
Local Editor
Local Editor Nick Trougakos has been with The Oklahoman since 2002. Trougakos covered the military, federal agencies and courts before becoming an editor in 2005. Prior to joining The Oklahoman, Trougakos was a reporter for the Oklahoma City...
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