With the astounding growth of the number of craft breweries this year, chances are thereâ€™s a new one in development, or has just started out in your area. My challenge to you is to seek out a new brewery and think about ways in which they could be welcomed into the existing beer community. How does their beer compare to the craft beer scene in your area? Are they doing anything in a new/exciting way? What advice, as a beer consumer, would you give to these new breweries?
I’m going to take a little bit of a different tack on this because I am, myself, a New Kid on the Block. In fact, I’ll be cross-posting this post on my brewery’s website and so, in a most amazingly selfish manner, I’m going to write about me.
I want to tell you about my crazy plans to make only seasonal beers. I want to tell you about how I’m never going to make the same beer twice and that consistency only needs to be in quality not in flavor. I want to detail how I’m going to offer a food pairing with every single brew I make. About how I want to steal marketing ideas from the wine industry and how I never want to sell a 6-pack. I want to tell you about how I plan to market to nerds with literature references and appeal to history buffs because I’m tired of beer pong and tit jokes. I want to go on about how I want to use the web and social media to engage customers in ways that I don’t see anybody doing right now. I think that I’ve got some groundbreaking new stuff in mind that could change a lot of people’s minds about how beer exists in the marketplace and how it gets in to restaurants and bars.
But I’m not going to.
Instead, I want to talk about how awesome everybody else has been using two aphorisms that you tend to hear in and around the industry.
Beer People Are Good People
You hear this a lot. Hell. I say it a lot. Beer people are good people. Let me show you what I mean. Click on this link. What you see there are the results of 243 people who appreciate good beer enough to help some lucky bastard (ermm.. me) chase his dream. That is nothing short of absolutely phenomenal. (I should also note that 1 of those 243 people is the host of this month’s Session. Thank you, Carla!) I have received support from local beer people that is beyond anything I could have hoped for. I received offers for help with everything from construction to design to manual labor. Sure, maybe there’s the hope that some free beer might change hands here or there, but I haven’t heard much about it. Instead, I’ve heard, “I’d just like to help.” As a new brewery coming onto the scene it’s heartwarming. It’s great to run into people in bars and hear their excitement. It’s humbling and ridiculously exciting.
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
Let me tell you a starry-eyed plan that I have for my brewery. No! Let me tell you first about North Carolina beer. Here in North Carolina, we have a great beer scene. There are breweries up and down this state that are making world class beer. There are ground-breaking new breweries, veteran award-winning breweries, brewpubs, nano-breweries, Reinheitsgebot-following breweries, and everything in-between. The past year has seen 5 new breweries open in the state, 3 within an hour drive of me. On top of that? I have received nothing but kind words, support, and help from the local industry. Instead of competition, I am being treated like.. well.. a new kid on the block, a new friend. So that starry-eyed plan?
I have a clause written into my business plan that says that, whenever possible, I would like to avoid taking another North Carolina beer off tap in a location where I go on. Is it always going to be possible? Probably not. It’s not my decision, after all. But I would rather go in next to a great local beer – and have the establishment that I’m in sell the local option than replace a local beer and go in next to … whatever. Sam Adams Seasonal. Hell – keep the Boston Lager tap, but let the locals roll together because a rising tide does lift all boats. What helps one of us, helps all of us. We’re all riding this wave together, and we’ll get there a lot better if we act in unison against the forces of bland sameness instead of individually. United we drink, divided we sink.
Maybe I’m going into this with rampant naivety. Maybe all this support is merely a facade of good will, warm-fuzzies, and glowing elf hugs and it will all be whisked away by the cold light of The Need For Sales and Revenue, but I think that, as the topic of this Session suggests, there is a groundswell of support for new breweries, even in the wake of so many new openings in the past few years.
The question has been posed in the past: Are there too many breweries? I still contend that the answer is a resounding, firm no. Rather, there are still too many people in this country settling for less. There’s room in the marketplace for all of us new breweries and many more. Beer people – good people – are making that clear with their vociferous support.
Thanks to all of you good beer people. I look forward to reading the advice posted for new breweries in response to this Session.
Ã€ votre santÃ©,