The Lost Abbey – What Went Wrong With The Sinners and Saints Club?
Over the past four years, The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing of San Marcos has been the smallest brewery to make the biggest noise in the craft beer community. Frankly speaking, they make some of the most creative, tasty strong ales, saisons and sours out there.
They also have had their troubles as it relates to their customer relations in the short time they have been commercially brewing. More specifically, in running their Patron Sinners and Saints Club.
While pumping out great beer for the most part, The Lost Abbey seemed overtaken by the tasks it takes to run a “beer of the month” style club, due to a lack of resources dedicated to running this program. I came to this conclusion after reading several threads on RateBeer, as well as people I’ve talked to here in SoCal. The two major complaints I’ve heard griped were lack of any customer service communication for long periods of time and uncommunicated delays in shipment. Even once some of those kinks were worked out, folks began getting upset that some of their exclusive beers they joined the club to get, were being poured at near by festivals and shipped to places like Whole Foods, for non club members to obtain. In my very humble opinion, a great artist shouldn’t be expected to also be a great customer service or retail operations specialist. None the less, great customer service was expected by those who joined the clubs.
Even with all of these problems, there were probably more people that were more than content with their respective Sinner or Saint Club membership. Over the last two years, we’ve gotten Duck Duck Gooze, Deliverance, Framboise Amorosa and Angel Share Grand Cru in the mix, and they have all been home runs. Having the ability to get an allotment of these small batch beers was handy for those who live local and can afford this yummy expensive habit. For those who lived outside of California, that wasn’t the case. Between Lost Abbeys undersized staff and mismatched alcohol shipping laws in different states, more people would probably be dissapointed when joining the ever growing base of Sinners and Saints.
I applaud Lost Abbey for doing the right thing, and putting this program on the shelf. While it seems impossible to make everyone happy all the time, I would rather run a well oiled club operation or none at all. It seems that’s the case here. I would want to rid of the negative energy of upset customers, and focus on making complex barrel aged beer. When the opportunity presents itself to run Sinners and Saints Club again, hopefully they will take all the measures needed for it to be considered a complete success.
We had a chance to sit down with Tomme Arthur, Co-Founder and Director of Brewery Operations . Click here to read the interview regarding the decision to close the Sinners and Saints Club.