Adult Social Hour (Beer)

Number of People: One lead plus many helpers. Providing beer is a demanding job logistically requiring significant off-island planning and work. On island, at least 4 people are needed to carry it off each evening (1 experienced organizer, 1 assistant and 2 helpers). Social hour is a 7 night activity and, since no one should have to work all 7 nights, at least 6 people should be assigned so a rotation can occur.

Budget: $1400 up front (including deposits on kegs which is $50 per keg usually seven kegs which is refunded upon returning them), leaving a net budget of $1050

Responsibilities: Plan, order, communicate with Conference Services & the Logistics staff member, pick up, deliver, refrigerate, organize/train helpers, set up, manage ice, and clean up daily. If kegs are used, a deposit will be required and all kegs must be returned after the conference.

Ordering/Shopping: The ordering should be started about 3 weeks prior to the conference and the quantities need to be based upon the number of registered adults. Purchase must be done in NH by law; in 2023 The City Tobacco & Beverage Center was used (806 U.S. 1 Bypass, Portsmouth 603.433.8333).

It is best to do all the ordering from one retail location not far from the Isles of Shoals dock. Seek the shopping list and other records from the previous Social Hour Beer Organizer (Matt Ronn and David Mellen have been the leads recently). Choosing what to serve is not always straightforward — availability is sometimes problematic so extra time is needed to make adjustments to the original requests.

The beer lead usually must pay in full including deposits and submit the receipt to the conference treasurer for reimbursement; communication with the conference treasurer is part of the planning process.

Quantities: 72 gallons of keg beer and about 5 gal of canned beer was consumed in 2023 with about 200 adults registered; that calculates to about 0.385 gal of beer per registered adult which is 4.1 beers per registered adult (12 oz beers). It’s best to save the canned beer to the last night partly to make cleanup easier but also because it is best to consume all the kegged beer; if anything is left over, it should be in cans. We also consumed about 60 cans of alcoholic ciders in 2023 (the DownEast was the most popular, Citizen Cider 2nd, and Woodchuck cider the least popular). The beer and alcoholic cider totaled $1,284.

Delivery: Since supplies must go out on a very early boat the day of the conference, beer should be loaded into the dock supply sheds the afternoon or evening before. Someone needs to be at the dock 1/2 hour before the supply boat is scheduled to leave and help with hauling to the boat. If kegs are being used, a keg hand truck is very helpful. Once on the island, the pel truck crew will deliver to Newton, but they won’t refrigerate it (they don’t know what needs cooling and it doesn’t all fit in the refrigerators). Leftovers from previous conferences are often problematic both in the supply closet and  refrigerators. For these reasons, it is advisable for the beer lead to arrive on island on an early boat. Also, arrival on the conference boat does not leave enough time for first evening set up. Boat schedules vary from year to year so research and planning is required.

Draft Box (aka Jockey Box): If available, this is the best way to serve from kegs because it is efficient, doesn’t add oxygen to the beer, and allows for several styles to be available each evening. It appears that more beer is consumed when kegs and a draft box is used. The downside is the extra equipment, the CO2 required (5 lb. tank), extra hook up time each evening, and cleaning the lines. About 3 lbs of CO2 was used in 2023 at about $8/lb.

Schedule: Re-stock the coolers in the morning. In the evening, set up the table, draft box, and transport the beer & cider — this began at 4:45 for the lead or assistant in 2023. Servers started at 5:15. Breakdown began at 6:15 and involved cleaning the taps/lines, moving the equipment, and refrigerating the kegs. Extra beer in the pitchers should be discarded at 6:30.

Return: Make sure the kegs and any equipment gets on the boat. Return kegs and pick up the deposit.

Follow through: Summarize and pass along information that will be helpful for future conferences.

Last Updated by David Mellen, November 2023 [BC, ed.]