Oktoberfest Beer Tour at Old ChicagoOctober 4, 2010 By: Alissa Ponchione
October is a month full of fruitful promotion ideas for your restaurants: football on the weekends, Halloween right around the corner, and a major coup for any bar or restaurant — Oktoberfest. Old Chicago, the Lousiville, Colo.-based 102-location restaurant chain, is keeping patrons interested in its ever-expanding beer list though by running an Oktoberfest mini tour promotion from Sept. 8 through Oct. 3. This tour is part of the many World Beer Tours the brand holds throughout the year.
Old Chicago, in fact, embarked on something fresh and new with this year’s Oktoberfest mini tour by researching various breweries in Germany. By exploring these options, the Oktoberfest menu consists of beers ranging from craft favorites to German staples including Ayinger, Warsteiner, Franziskaner, Spaten, Beck’s, St. Pauli, Paulaner and American favorites such as Sam Adams, etc.; managers at each location choose eight from these beers to feature.
This variety means the selection on the system-wide Old Chicago Oktoberfest Mini Tour is endless. “The traveling guest may find the Spaten Oktoberfest at one Old Chicago, but the Spaten Optimator Doppelbock at another, which adds to the excitement of the tour for our committed regulars,” say Tracy A. Finklang, corporate beverage manager for Old Chicago.
Mini Tours are nothing new to Old Chicago, as the company presents them for various holidays throughout the year, yet Oktoberfest is one of the most popular tours. That’s no surprise, considering this year Old Chicago was able to kick off the tour with a beer that isn’t available outside of Munich — the Paulaner Wiesn Blonde Lager — for the first time ever.
What’s more, Finklang created a beer list for Oktoberfest with esoteric beers including partnering with a local brewery in Colorado to bring back and recreate the Old Chicago Festivaläger brew from the Old Chicago label that the company purchased in the mid 1900s. However, the Festivaläger brew is only available in Colorado.
It’s free to sign up for the beer tours, and though the beers change every year for the beer tours, the atmosphere remains lively and energetic. Finklang says the real challenge is finding beers available nationally. “Way fewer beers than you might imagine are available in all markets, so that can be limiting, which is why we do things like specifying breweries instead of beers and letting the bar manager select styles from those spec’ed breweries, like in the Oktoberfest tour, or by leaving ample slots for those manager’s choice selections,” she explains.
The Mini Tours are popular at Old Chicago establishments because they provide value and incentives to guests interested in learning and trying brews that normally might be outside their comfort zones. Kick off parties generally begin the festivities, with chefs making food fit for the celebration. During Oktoberfest, for example, guests feast on Schnitzel, Spaetzel and Knudel, preparing guests for their beer journey through Germany and beyond. And because all Mini Tours require at least two visits, Finklang builds on guests’ anticipation, luring them back with its variety of beer offerings.
By traveling around the world via the beer tour, trying new brews and engaging in Old Chicago’s Oktoberfest, guests will go from beer novices to savants. Like Finklang says, “If you can’t go to Munich, you will always have Old Chicago.”