Yelp is all about connecting people with great local businesses, and we recognize that these businesses — led by artisans, doers and creators of all kinds — are the lifeblood of our communities. So we choose a few small biz badasses from around the world each month to spotlight and learn from.
Allow us to introduce Corinna Steeb, CEO of Prancing Pony Brewery. With more than 30 years of brewing experience, they have climbed the ranks to make it to No. 20 in Hottest 100 Craft Beers in Australia 2014 for their Indian Red Ale. She was interviewed by Anita DeCoster, Adelaide’s Yelp community manager.
Why did she choose the name “Prancing Pony”?
Steeb explains that Frank Samson, her partner and head brewer, lived in Ireland among the rolling hills where J.R.R Tolkien drew his inspiration for his novel The Lord of the Rings. Samson and Steeb also found inspiration there. They lived with horses, donkeys and had a large shed out back that Samson called his brewing home.
Samson labelled his own brews as Prancing Pony, as it conjured an image in his mind of what his own pub might look like — crowded with merry people drinking beer out of wooden mugs. Steeb describes that his brewshed always looked like “Middle Earth with bits and pieces everywhere,” much like Tolkien’s description of the Prancing Pony Inn in his novels. Their friends loved the name and told the couple to stick with it when they went commercial to communicate their fun personalities.
Why did they start their business?
Samson always made a lot of beer, and like all good home brewers, he ended up sharing it with friends. Without a doubt he quickly developed a fanbase. That was when Steeb thought they might be able to look into creating a sustainable business.
The tipping point of this decision was after an experience with some of her guests at her bed-and-breakfast. She observed the guests drinking Samson’s homebrews with a pack of different craft beers. After tasting them all, they tipped out the purchased beers and asked Samson for more of his homebrews. That was it; she knew they were onto something.
They decided that it might not be such a big risk to start a business. Moving forward many years, they now have an established brewery, shipping product nationally and internationally.
How do they use customer feedback in their business?
Steeb explains that feedback was one of the main reasons behind opening the brewery doors to include a restaurant and front of house.
“It is vitally important to get feedback on what people like and what they don’t like. Everyone has an opinion really and … just because someone comes in and doesn’t like your beer, doesn’t mean that we jump immediately at it. We rather collate the opinions, and then take it from there.”
Over some time, they have developed a group of locals, who they use as a focus group to test experimental brews and styles. This helps Samson decide where they should go with their next creations.
An interesting development from customer feedback had lead Prancing Pony to produce a rotating stock of new varieties of beer. Their customers had often told them that they loved their beer, but “what is next?” With that, they now rotate two to three taps with seasonal recipes for their customers to enjoy.
What better reason to make a trip to their brewery to taste something new!