But that didn’t stop Drekker’s four co-founders from wanting to do something big. Like many things in life, it all started with a dream. Four guys—with a love of beer—began brewing in a garage and worked their beer bellies off to make Drekker happen.
Pint It Forward was merely an idea when it started last winter. They could have never foreseen the generosity they were inspiring.
What is Pint It Forward?
“It started last year with one board,” Darin Montplaisir, co-founder and head brewer, said. “It was the idea that you could buy a beer for a friend.” Simple as that.
Allowing guests to buy a beer for a someone created a little social media buzz, bringing new customers in the door in a fun way. All a customer has to do is pre-pay for a beer, fill out a slip of paper with the recipient’s name, and let that person know that they have a beer waiting for them via social media.
From there, the Drekker team transfers those names to the boards displayed on the walls for customers to see. When Henry comes in for a beer, he’ll see that his best friend Sam had pre-purchased a beer for him.
The real beauty of this marketing plan was that it inspired a much greater cause than Drekker could have ever expected. “Customers started to take it under their own wing,” Montplaisir said.
The program started with friend-to-friend purchases, to people taking turns buying a pint for a neighbor or coworker… and eventually buying a beer for random strangers. Some customers began addressing the beers to ‘anyone in uniform,’ ‘a police officer,’ ‘the next person who sees this,’ etc.
Of course, Montplaisir admitted that customers have fun with their giving, too. “We get the warm and fuzzy ones, but also the goofy ones,” he said, grinning. To: ‘the next person in an ugly Christmas sweater,’ ‘Marilyn Manson’ (when he played in town), and ‘the next guy with a sweet stache.’ The latter requires Drekker staff to make a judgement call. What’s considered a sweet stache? “That puts the burden on us,” he said, laughing.
There’s not a moment that the boards aren’t full. Perhaps, the best part of it all is that once the giving started, it hasn’t stopped. The brewery started with one board and has since expanded to four which still proves to be too little. Many other slips are filed on a overflow board, waiting to get their name up in lights. “It’s rare that someone redeems [a beer] and doesn’t pint it forward,” said Jesse Feigum, another co-founder.
That’s what gives us hope for mankind.
A Tale of Warm + Fuzzies
The most profound story, however, was an experience that caught Montplaisir off guard. A new customer sitting at the bar, pointed at the boards and asked him, like many do, “What’s that all about?” Montplaisir quickly explained the concept of pinting it forward, saying some people buy for friends and some people purchase a beer for a stranger, like a “service member, present or past,” he said pointing to the example on the board.
It wasn’t long before the man admitted he was a veteran and Montplaisir poured him a free beer. The man was moved. Why would someone think of him? What person would go out of their way to buy a beer for a stranger?
Before leaving, the man took a wad of money out of his wallet, handed it to Montplaisir, and said, “I like what that guy did,” pointing to the board. “How many beers will this buy?,” he asked. After doing the math, Montplaisir handed the man 10 slips to fill out. Teary eyed, the veteran wrote:
To: Any current or past serviceman
From: A thankful American
What was so surprising to Montplaisir was the “From:” line. The man refused to let Montplaisir share his name or that he had also served his time. “A thankful American” is all the credit he wanted.
A week later, a group of ten serviceman passing through stopped in to Drekker for a beer. When Montplaisir realized their profession, he poured a beer for each of them. He couldn’t believe the coincidence.
[gdlr_quote align=”center” ]But that’s the thing about paying it forward, we never know where the kindness will lead or where the chain will end.[/gdlr_quote]
As he finished the story, Montplaisir said there was only one standing lament he had in it all. “I just wish [the man] would come back in so he knew how the story ended,” Montplaisir said.
But that’s the thing about paying it forward, we never know where the kindness will lead or where the chain will end. So we continue reaching out to strangers in hopes that our simple gestures will make a difference in the world—if even in the slightest. And, above all, no matter where the kindness travels or which path it takes, we hope the chain never ends.
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