This post was originally going to be for this month’s Session, #35: “New Beer’s Resolutions, but I canned it. It’s a cute topic, but I can’t do it. I don’t believe in looking back at mistakes. To learn from your mistakes is paramount, to dwell on them is folly. They are done and I won’t revisit them, but rather stay positive with their lessons in mind and move forward to greater achievement.
At the same time, I feel like resolutions are bunk. The number one way to not get something done is to make it a New Year’s Resolution. If you want something to get done, you need to roll out of bed in the morning and do it. Screw tying it to the calendar. Just get up and go.
I also won’t attempt to make any predictions about what could happen in 2010. The problem with predictions is that they are based on the past; they’re based on our current knowledge set and our current environment. We cannot forsee individual random events or, even more importantly, what will be invented that will change the world in the next 12 months. It’s impossible and fruitless to speculate. You can only be ready for anything and enjoy the ever-living-crap out of it.
But! The dawn of a new year is an opportunity to look forward to all of the wonderful things to come that you DO know about. Here’s my personal list of things to come in 2010:
Homebrew and Competition
After withdrawing myself from homebrew competitions for a while, I plan to get my feet wet again to see what comes out of it. I’ve had some rather snarky judges in the past that have made me feel rather jaded about entering competitions, but in the spirit of “I’m going to start a business.” I’ve decided to say screw-all to the critics, throw my hat back into the ring, and wait for the Gold Medal to arrive in the mail. If the rest of my big bold headings work out as I expect them to, this will also be the last year I enter into homebrew competitions.
Here’s where my beer is going:
2010 Craft Brewers Conference Panel Presentation: I’m a Social Media Guru Now!
One of the things that I am both looking forward to and slightly terrified of is the 2010 Craft Brewers Conference where I will be part of a panel presentation entitled Storytelling 2.0: Social Media as Conversation with some colleagues that I feel rather starstruck about. Fullsteam’s Sean Wilson (one of my co-panelists) posted a nice up front review of what we’re attempting to do. Here’s the selected excerpt from our draft pitch that sells it best:
Itâ€™s time to stop thinking of Twitter, Facebook, and blogging as simple extensions of your press releases. Storytelling 2.0 will help you discover your own unique voice, and connect, build, and bond with your fan base. Itâ€™s time to talk with â€” not at â€” your audience.
Craft brewing is story-driven. Each individual brewery has a unique story to best engage its customer base. Social media empowers your brewery to include enthusiasts in that story, giving them access to your narrative voice in an unparalleled way. Well-crafted updates, photo postings, and personalized responses engage your customers, giving them a chance to see inside your operations and meet the characters in the story first-hand.
By the by, I hope nobody ever calls me a social media guru. I don’t use it enough (I’m sure my wife would argue that I use it way too much) – on purpose – because I feel like it’s easy to spam and therefore achieve negative impact through annoyance, but I think that automatically takes me out of “guru” running.
As we work on the conference panel over the next few months, you’ll probably see a few columns here about social media and how it pertains to breweries. These columns will not be meant as part of the presentation or may not even be related, but it’s the best way I have to work through things. At the same time, I hope that my ramblings will be useful to the internet/brewing community at large.
Know Your Brewer Re-Launches
We haven’t said a whole lot about this yet, but I am working with Sean over at Fullsteam on a little project that I think will turn out for awesome. Know Your Brewer, a website that was originally focused on North Carolina Beer as part of Pop the Cap 2.0. The site provided the basic template and early content for the North Carolina Brewers Guild website NCBeer.org, which I’m also helping on, but that left a domain and a concept unoccupied. I’ve somehow managed to convince Sean to let me help retro-fit Know Your Brewer for a new life.
The re-launch is coming and it’s coming nationwide. I’m not yet sure of our official re-launch date, I can say that I think it will be pretty terrific. The site will focus on the men and women behind craft beer – the people that make it, the brewers – and look at their beer and their breweries through their eyes. We’re hoping to have writers and bloggers across the country interviewing brewers from across the country, with lots of added content – recipes, Q&A, etc, all in a regular weekly format.
I’ve already done interviews at a couple of breweries and I have a half-dozen more scheduled in the next few weeks. It’s been a ton of fun talking to brewers about their work, how they got into it, and what they enjoy the most about it. It’s been a ball and I can’t wait to share it.
What you see there isn’t the final design, but it’s on its way. Look for an official announcement here (and, of course, on Know Your Brewer) soon. In the meantime, we’re recruiting writers – are you interested? Let me know!
Announcing the Location of Mystery Brewing Company
Finally, in either the second or third quarter this year, I will be making the announcement on the geographical location of my own startup: Mystery Brewing Company.
At that point, the blog will likely go through a slight transition where you end up hearing a lot more commentary about startup issues. On of my major criticisms with startup brewery content I have found, read, and yes, even paid thousands of dollars for, is the lack of practical detail. I get a lot of “you need to fill out TTB forms and apply for licensing.” And while it’s true, it’s not necessarily as helpful as telling me what forms are around, what information they tend to expect, and what pitfalls I should look out for. Not to say I’ll be posting how to fill out your TTB label forms here, but I will, whenever possible, post practical information about the startup process specifically pertaining to startup breweries in the hopes that others coming after me will find something useful. I believe that the future of the industry lays in continuing spread of the individual small brewery, rather than the continual creation of more megabreweries, and I hope that I can help the industry in the right direction.
Back when I was in high school, as a miserable teenager, I remember somebody taking me aside and telling me: “Remember these days, because these are the best days of your life.” And then I remember thinking, “Oh god – kill me now.” They were wrong. Totally and completely and in all ways possible: wrong. They were not even remotely the best days of my life. Every year that I’ve been alive, things have just been better and better, more fun and more awesome, and I can’t imagine that changing now. I’m looking forward to 2010, for all of these reasons up here and the hundreds of reasons that I haven’t found out about, yet.
Happy New Year, everyone. It’ll be a great one.
The post in which way say goodbye to the ever-dwindling remains of my free time.
Earlier this week, I took the reins of ncbeer.org, the website of the North Carolina Brewers Guild. I’m an enormous nerd and I like to promote local beer, so it was a no-brainer on my part. Why they agreed to allow me to help, we may never know.
Of course, this means that my attention is going to be split between here and ncbeer until their website is a little bit more robust with content and useful functions for member breweries. I’m still going to be shooting for two entries here, per week. (Yes, this counts as one. I’m not stupid.)
In the meantime, if you’re in North Carolina (and even if you’re not) make sure you head on over to the site, bookmark it, and subscribe to the RSS feed. It’s a little light on content right now, but based on the amount of e-mail I’ve received today it’s not going to stay that way for long. If you’ve got ideas of the kinds of things you’d like to see about local beer and breweries as a beer enthusiast, let me know. What’s more, keep an eye out for information on how to become a member of the guild.
Join the club! They have beer.
In preparation for this year’s American Craft Beer Week (May 11 – May 17) American Homebrewer’s Association and Brewer’s Association High Poo-bah and general beer ambassador Charlie Papazian has opened up a poll: Vote for your Favorite Beer City. Polls are open ’til May 7 and the winner will be announced in time for Craft Beer Week.
It’s a good set of cities, mostly. I can’t help but feel like who ever put this list together for Charlie just pulled a list of the locations of 30 popular breweries in the US. I’m a little surprised (but happy) to see so much on the East Coast, and even more surprised to nothing in Texas. In fact, looking at that map there’s a pretty sad furrow down the middle of the country. Somebody should get on that.
Some cities are at a distinct disadvantage. There’s a vast difference between San Francisco/Oakland/Bay Area and, say, Boulder, CO which is just a few miles outside of its competitor, Denver, CO. No doubt, there are a ton of breweries in each of those, but sheer population alone puts the Bay Area up by, oh, 6 million people. Consider, too, that Fort Collins and Colorado Springs are also listed.
Kansas City (Kansas Cities?) gets especially screwed by being listed in both states – they don’t count as a greater metropolitan area? Albuquerque and Santa Fe are getting listed together and they’re 60 miles apart.
Charlie says that if any particular city gets more than 50 votes in the “Other” category he’ll put it on the list as an official choice. So do you see your city on there? If not, rally the troops and get your vote in.
I’m glad to see Asheville, NC, but, I’d love to see Raleigh/Durham, NC on that list. I think you’d be hard pressed to find an area in the country that’s going through a comparable beer culture explosion. It’s pretty fantastic.