A few weeks back, I posted an article concerning what it is actually like being a brewer. I did this for those thousands of aspiring homebrewers/beer geeks (see also beer nerds/transients/snobs) to get the gist that being a brewer isn’t as glamorous as one may believe. Time to crush dreams, folks.
- It’s friggin hard-ass work.
- It’s time intensive.
- You’re not going to get paid much for awhile.
- It’s a whole-bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo you probably didn’t even think about or have the capability to understand.
Very few homebrewers are going to go from regular joe-schmos to being a professional brewer of their own company. It’s a simple fact, but alas, there are always some outliers. If you want to be a brewer, you have got to do one of two things (unless you are a millionaire or have a big trust fund, if that’s the case, stop reading here and give a good sinister laugh): obtain a degree in brewing sciences/chemistry/etc. or pay you’re dues and work your way up in the brewery. More often than not, the latter choice is usually the one taken the most.
Prove me wrong, follow your dreams and brew amazing stuff though.
I’ll admit, I don’t know much about what it actually takes to run a brewery or a business, but I do know a few brewers locally and in other states and have slowly immersed myself in the growing culture of a craft beer community. I started attending events, reaching out, volunteering, and doing anything I could to learn more about the subject. I started the odyssey by writing a previous beer blog (Kentucky Brew Review…RIP), but quickly realized I didn’t need to really write about beer to become one in the community. Honestly, it’s really hard to come up with materials sometimes. One must remember, writing about beer doesn’t entitle you to anything, just because you said something was good doesn’t mean cases of it are going to arrive on your doorstep the next day.
Below is a list of advice/words of wisdom from myself and other members of the beer community, not necessarily rules to live by, rather things to think about…
(Disclaimer: I am or have currently been at fault for everything said below, except for the quotes from others.)
(Disclaimer #2: Halfway through writing this, I stumbled upon Hoosier Beer Geeks piece , who had a lot of the same points of view…check it out.)
Social media is your best friend… and your worst enemy that is going to get you uninvited to your classmate Timmy’s super-fun Spiderman birthday party.
Like Indiana was told in the Last Crusade, choose wisely my son. Facebook and Twitter have done astronomical things for breweries and blogs getting their info out there and giving beer geeks the fastest/latest info at their fingertips. It’s free advertising. It also annoys the piss out of people when you post multiple times a day via different accounts of the same damn thing. We understand you’re trying to hit all markets, but eventually getting blocked or ignored will lessen that chance. Use Social Media, wisely, it’s your friend. Less is more sometime.
“Don’t spam your blog posts! People will find out if you have a blog and traffic will come if you don’t suck” – J. Tesmer
If you have a store/brewery that hooks you up with hard to get releases or beers…do the same with them.
Everyone has his or her certain beer store they always go to but their beer. I’ve been going to the same one for the past three years because it’s two blocks from my house. They even know my dog by name and always have treats ready for him. First class. Hook these people up. If these individuals can hook you up with good beer or maybe hold you back a hard to find bottle, do the same for them. More often than not, whenever I go up to purchase a few things I always bring a bottle to share. My philosophy is if they hook me up, I’ll hook them up with something they can’t get. Also, brewers enjoy this as well. Beer is about sharing, not hoarding.
With that, don’t hoard all the beer releases asshole.
Leave some for the next person. It’s simple. Buying everything so you can let it sit in your cellar or trade is dumb. It doesn’t help anyone but your selfish ass.
“If everyone would chill out and help each other and drop the idiotic Pokemon “gotta hoard ’em all” mindset, the scene would be a lot better.”-D. Adams
“People who’ve never met a stranger annoy most of us”
Everyone’s a newbie at something. Act like it. Not everyone is your best friend upon first meeting them. You’re not going to get free beer for life because you’re Facebook friends with a brewer either. Like any social situation, ease yourself in. It’s a very welcoming culture of people from many different backgrounds, just don’t force it.
“Respected members of the community got there for a reason. Put the time into the hobby and good things will come.”-R. Duntemann
Be honest with brewers
Brewers know not every beer they brew is going to be a chart topper. To be honest, they’d rather have a few good reasons for why someone didn’t like a beer rather than 100 “OMG. This was AMAZEBALLS. Must check it in right now,” comments. Constructive criticism is welcome in the brewing community.
Don’t limit yourself to just getting to know the local brewers/beer community
The following is a quote from Jeff Rice, who resides in Lexington, KY. Oh, you don’t know Jeff? It’s ok, you probably shouldn’t anyways. He’s just like you and me, except a hell of a lot more articulate and stuff. This dude doesn’t use the Spellcheck feature on Microsoft Word. He’s also professor at UK who is writing a book about craft beer and putting a Craft Beer Writing conference ion in February with some dude from New York named Garrett Oliver, Mitch Steele (Stone), Jeremy Cowan (Schmaltz), and the face of Southern Indiana Public Health, Roger Baylor.
“For me, being friends with chefs, brewers, farmers, food lobbyists, etc. is part of creating an overall network of relationships that tie us (or me) to the community. Food and beer, for me, anchors those ties. For someone else, it might be sports or religion or something else. Where we have lived, we tend to gravitate online and in person to the food and beverage community that is local so that we feel local.”
Don’t be a snob. Don’t be a one-upper.
Pretty self-explanatory. Don’t try to one-up every conversation with what beer you’ve had that is so much better. You’re not the end all be all of everything that is beer. We all put our pants on the same way. Shut up, drink your beer.
“Educate others rather than talking down to people that are just finding out about craft.”-F. Fitzharris
“Know that there’s a time & place for [almost] any kind of beer? Can’t stand Corona at home…but put me on a beach in Mexico and I’ll down them like water:) so it must not be total crap…”-A. Wilcox
“Drinking whales is not the end all be all of beer enjoyment. Don’t get me wrong they’re awesome, but they lose their luster if all you aim to drink are the “100 point,” rare as a stripper without daddy issues beers. Respect other peoples palates. Just because you like something doesn’t mean they will too. Share your knowledge in a friendly matter. Why would new people want to get into craft beer if they perceive everyone as being an elitist doucher?”- R. Fujinaga
“Whales are for sharing not looking at never make the beer more important than the relationships/friendships you’ve created. Those will last longer than any beer out there.”-R. Duntemann
Local is good.
So are other beers as well. Just because you may not like a certain beer a brewery makes doesn’t mean that brewery sucks either.
By only sucking on the local teat of local breweries you are missing out on a lot of other good styles and experimentations. I’m not referring to Against the Grain’s Old Boobs 36DD either.
“Don’t pretend to be an expert on local beer community etiquette.”- J. Potter
“Just because you don’t like that taste/style/brewery does not necessarily mean they suck. Your opinion is just like you’re a**hole – we all have one and generally they stink.” –L. Wohlman
“You should tell them that if you don’t remind everyone that whatever beer they’re drinking is either overrated or not as good as Darklord/Pliny they will not know how much cooler you are then them”- E. Rothfub
When participating in beer tasting or shares…don’t be that person.
Bring good beer. Don’t over pour. Engage in conversation about things other than beer. Get off Untapped. Get off Facebook or Instagram. Enjoy others company.
“Don’t bitch about not being invited to something. There probably a good reason you weren’t included.”-R. Duntemann.
“At tastings and bars, GET THE F*** OFF YOUR GOD DAMN PHONE AND UNTAPPD.”-D. Bell
“Don’t show up to tastings with 1-2 shitty beers then immediately start bragging about all the great beer in your cellar or fridge.”-D. Beckman
“How bout don’t show up with shitty beers! Especially if you plan on drinking everyone great beer. And don’t even dare pouring more than the person who brought that beer!” –J. Anderson