I was out delivering a talk recently, on beer; you know the usual stuff: how beer is made, how long it’s been made, what makes it “beer” and a loose intro to beer styles and the differences between.
I really love getting out and about, meeting all sorts of people – and thankfully that lovely phrase crosses over, Different Strokes for Different Folks. I am sure some of you have serious qualifications in your chosen career or prior career before you fell into Beer, so you might have the insight in to what a Stroke is. Well, I can start by saying it’s not the brain injury we’re talking about. It’s what some have referred to as an approach to different people that should be individualized. The proverb also means that different people have different tastes. Nobody knows exactly where the saying comes from. Wolfgang Mieder thinks it originated in the United States.
Anyway, why all the psycho-philosopy… well, I think it’s important that we understand where we stand in the world of beer. I think EVERYONE who has a personal or professional interest in beer has an obligation to help those who don’t know about beer, but with the caveat that we mustn’t judge people by their tastes, by what they drink or otherwise.
My toughest tasting from memory, was a bunch of bankers (I have used other terms) certified Industrial Fizzy Lager drinkers, and proud of it. Did I berate them for doing so… no. Did I find an angle with them, exploring their other food intake to seek parallel toward drinking better beer… yes. I had to work very hard on these chaps, one by one, they slowly came around to thinking that perhaps they could do better – and I learned something: their motivations weren’t flavour or the like – it was getting where they wanted to be, in a controlled amount of time – hence drinking Weak Industrial Fizzy Lager. Also, Price was a factor – these better off, financially, people were hung up on the price of Artisan Lager vs Industrial Lager. They also came with the mindset of Last Man Standing – a game of dare to who falls over first; a challenge if there ever was one from my stand point.
The funny thing, even with all the bravado and bullshit spouting forth, once I had done my gig a few of them were keen to talk to me at the bar. Why? I think it was, so not to be under the gaze of the group bullies. What did they ask? Great questions about the history, locale and what does X beer drink well with on the table; not the how much, how much and how much they were involved with when in the formal presentation.
There was my chance to grab a couple from the heard and change their ideals toward the fuller flavoured smaller brewery brewed beers; why beers were sour, why there are 10%+ abv beers etc.
I am in a fortunate position to be able to travel and learn about beer, many people can’t. Relying on friends and mates down the pub – maybe they were bought a box of beers for Christmas Beer, maybe they have a of a 1000 beers to drink before you end up in a wooden box. There are all tiers of tastes, levels of awareness toward beer.
This is where you come in.
I want you to go out, learn as much as you can about beer, learn from those who write, talk and video blog about Beer, and take it to those that aren’t beer-aware. Er, that really sounds like taking a faith to the uninitiated; so you don’t want to sound like a missionary. Ok, how about disruption: Getting out there and flyering for your next local beer festival. Invite all your friends on Facebook, email them. Become an advocate for your good local brewery! Having a party? Take some good, but accessible beers – if no one drinks them, so what!? You’ll have something good to drink all night. Instead of Alcopops try some fruit beers.
It’s all well and good having 1000′s of followers on Twitter, and they’re all beer people, all the people you socialise with are beer people etc… But, I make a concerted effort on corrupting my Fishing and every day mates ideals toward beer – even my gluten intolerant mate who had resorted to cider and corona (his words; they kinda taste the same) to Mongozo GF Pils, “it actually tastes like a lager”.
Why do I say this?
Well, if you as a beer lover, on my Beermerchants twitter numbers, say 3000 people – turn one of your friends onto artisan beer, or just beer (away from wines or ciders – or god forbid Alcopops – a double word score) you immediately double the numbers of people who might buy or the chance that people may find the beers we love.
I am not talking about Militancy – ok, “Occupy The Pub” or “Occupy Supermarket Isles” sounds great, just a gentle nudge here and there. Take a friend to a beer festival – much like Teach a Friend to Homebrew.
Remember – No one likes a Know it all.
Why can’t this be done via marketing or advertising: You have the trust, you know these people, you know what they want, like and their tastes. You know their social schedules and you speak to them when they are either making a choice at the bar or in the supermarket isle. You can of course, should you so wish to, help them with recomendations from Beermerchants.com. You can hit that totally indivualised experience for the newby beer lover. Do it! Tell them, This is why I love beer.
Go for it!
I would love to see this taken on… not in some sort “you must” – just a little softly softly approach. I am sure many of you do anyway.