Coronado Brewing Company Tap Takeover at Bru Grill and Market

Coronado Brewing Company Tap Takeover
at Bru Grill and Market

Bru Grill and MarketThe tap-takeover event happened about a month ago and It had all the makings of a fantastic beer soaked night out in El Toro. Good friends, good beer, and good food. But soon after we showed up, things seemed to go downhill. I had postponed this write-up because I was raised that if you can’t say anything nice you shouldn’t say anything at all. And
I usually try to keep it positive on this blog. So I’ve thought about it for about a month now, and I found some nice things to say. So here’s the story…

We were excited to see that Coronado Brewing Company was doing a tap takeover at one of our local craft beer restaurants. We are huge fans of Coronado’s Idiot IPA, and Guido has previously had a few great meals at Bru. So this seemed like an excellent combo and a win-win for everyone involved.

Unfortunately, we were less than impressed by both the staff at Bru and the brewery reps from Coronado. 

The Host with the Most

Bru Grill and MarketThe host who sat us was friendly and helpful. We mentioned that we were there for the tap takeover and dinner and weren’t sure if we should sit in the bar or in the dining room. He suggested we sit in the bar because they had raffle tickets and the brewery would be drawing names and giving away some goodies. He found us a table, gave us menus and raffle tickets and told us a server would be with us shortly.

We asked if the Coronado brewery reps were around because we were interested in talking with them since we were huge fans and made a special trip just for this event. He said they were still setting up but should be around here somewhere, he’d send them over.  He set the bar for the excellent service we would be getting… or so we thought.

Craft Beer bottles

I filled out my raffle ticket and then walked around and took a few photos of the beer fridges and beer walls while the others waited for our server. They have a great selection of bottled craft beer. Lots of local favorites from Bootleggers, Cismontane, Stone, The Bruery, Ballast Point, Russian River, Bear Republic and all the other California favorites, as well as a nice variety not-so-local brews; Epic, Great Divide, Maredsous, Ommegang, Uinta, etc… Be warned, some of the prices are much higher than at the bottle shops. For example a 12 oz bottle of the Stone Collaboration “Mint Chocolate Stout” was $5.99/bottle at Bru. I can pick that up for $2.99 at most shops. So it helps to know what beers should cost before shopping. (That applies everywhere, not just here though.)

Service with a… wait, where’s the service?

We got there at 6:15 and the tap takeover was scheduled to start at 6:30. We watched as the bar slowly filled up. Then we saw a couple tables that showed up after us not only have their orders taken, but also get their drinks served. We realize that some servers get slammed, but it wasn’t that busy yet. And at this point we hadn’t even seen our server. Thirsty and ready for some Coronado brew, I flagged down our friendly host as he walked past our table and asked him who our server was, because we hadn’t seen him or her yet.

It was about 6:40 when our server finally showed up and apologized for the delay while taking our order. 25 minutes from getting seated to the first contact with a server, that’s not the kind of service I expected. But this was no time to grumble, it was a time to drink beer. To kick things off we ordered the flight of Coronado beers, and a few appetizers; including the featured item: Coronado Islander clams. By now we were getting a little hungry, especially after seeing the surrounding tables getting their food already. We asked the server if he could send the Coronado reps around to our table so we could chat about their beers. We knew that Stupid Stout was already being bottled but were surprised that it wasn’t on the taplist. He said they should be by shortly to get the raffle tickets.

Beer and Food

The beer sampler showed up first, which was fine by us. The gal who brought out the beer out was about to walk away when we asked her if she could tell us what beers were in the flight. She told us she’d check and be right back.

We couldn’t wait so we started tasting, making comments to each other as we made our way around the carousel of beers trying to figure out what was what. The Pils and Wit were easy to figure out, and the Stout was a gimme. I was assuming they might be in order of ABV so at first I thought the Islander was fantastic! Then we got around to the Idiot and realized that it was lacking and figured that my theory must have been off. After a brief tasting we determined the order as pictured was:

  • Golden Pilsner
  • Orange Avenue Wit
  • Idiot IPA
  • Red Devil Imperial Red Ale
  • Islander IPA
  • Blue Ridge Coffee Stout

The two favorites of the bunch were Idiot IPA and Red Devil. We decided that we’d order pints of those when the server came back to check in on us. Now where’s that server?

My guess is that they have serving teams and not one server per table. The food showed up, but it was hurriedly dropped off by a couple of people whom we hadn’t seen yet. They asked who ordered what, dropped off the plates, and then disappeared before we had a chance to order our next round of drinks, or ask about place settings. The food looked great, but we didn’t have any utensils or napkins yet. And finger food needs napkins…

At this point someone came by our table to check on how everything was, my guess is that he was a manager. I remarked that everything was “just okay”. I mentioned our 25 minute wait for a server, and that the food looked great but we hadn’t tasted it yet because we didn’t have any napkins. He apologized and said he’d get someone right on that. We also asked him about speaking with the brewery reps. Guido mentioned our beer blog and that we’d like to ask Coronado about some of their upcoming releases like the Stupid Stout and Hibiscus IPA. He said he wasn’t sure if they were still around, but if they were he’d send them over. He apologized again and left to get our silverware.

We had already started grazing on our food when the gal finally showed up to drop off our setups. She said that the guys from Coronado had already left for the evening and apologized. Since we hadn’t seen or heard from Coronado, we decided to change our order. We enjoyed Ommegang’s Scythe and Sickle, and North Coast’s Old Rasputin on Nitro. We mentioned that we were disappointed that the Coronado guys had already left, and showed her our raffle tickets that were never picked up from our table. She took our tickets and said that she’d check to see if they had any giveaways left. After finishing our appetizers and drinks we decided to cut our losses and head out for the evening rather than sticking around for dinner. When our check showed up they brought one Coronado pint glass and said that’s all they had left. At this point I was pretty soured on the whole experience so I told Guido to take the glass. I didn’t want a reminder of this experience. Yet here I am writing about it a month later.

In Summary

The food was great!

The beer was really good.

The service was filled with apologies and delays.

I usually try to be positive, so I’ll give Bru another chance at some point, but it’s not at the top of my list anymore. With the premium prices I expected premium service, and I just didn’t get that. If it was a moderately priced brewpub event I’d cut them more slack, but they price themselves on the high-end, so the expectations were not in line with our experience.

Your mileage may vary.

Cheers!

Bru Grill & Market
http://brugrill.com

Coronado Brewing Company
http://coronadobrewing.com

P.S. I posted a rant on Instagram slamming both Coronado and Bru on the night of the event. Little did I realize that Coronado follows me on Instagram. They responded and were very cool about it. I got the impression that they felt bad that I had such a poor experience. I was still pretty upset about the experience and realized that I should hold off on blogging until I cooled down.

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