“I’m too young to die. I haven’t lived yet; I haven’t seen Italy or Spain.”
~ A recent quote from a conversation
Ever walk into a pub, bottle shop, or brewery and have a similar thought?
A thought that we beer fans, connoisseurs, and snobs will never experience all of it?
Those beers that are only available in small markets, but end up at the top of every Best Beer list, tease us constantly. Or, those one day events that most of us cannot drop a few hundred bucks on to get to. Don’t forget about the breweries that offer insane in-house offerings that are bragged about via Facebook and Twitter.
Aye, we are all too young to die.
As the craft beer world continues to expand, the Beer Bucket List grows lengthier and more daunting. A small pang of anxiety attacks as we enter the dens of opportunity, hoping and praying to choose wisely.
When I think of great beer, there are two things that I consider to be of greater importance.
The people I’m with and the surrounding community.
It is the people, not the place or the beer.
I’ve had some great beer in my life so far. I’ve also made some great beer as a part of Four Saints Brewing Company (http://bit.ly/K1lPu0).
Each of those beers drank and each of those places visited really are the most superficial parts of those experiences. The connections made, renewed, or ended during those times are the essence of what brings meaning to the craft beer experience.
The people we are meeting as we work through our Kickstarter campaign (http://kck.st/LmbeaM) have been some of the most inspiring, caring, intelligent, funny, and genuine people we have ever met. Our beer has been the beginning of some great friendships and partnerships. And, with success or failure of our brewery, those will last.
Ever been drinking a great beer by your lonesome, and thought “I wish so-and-so was here to try this.”? I have. It’s a little like riding a roller coaster by yourself. It may be exhilarating, but it’s lonely. Our hearts and minds race when we run into someone who knows what we’ve experienced or are experiencing. We can learn a lot from those around us.
Craft beer is meant to be a social experience. Craft beer is a conversational lubricant. When you sit at the pub, don’t be afraid to engage the stranger to your right or left. Ready to imbibe that beer you’ve been cellaring for three years? Call someone to join you. S/he may be the key to something deep within your heart or psyche. Or, at least they’ll be one less person to explain the beer’s amazingness (or awfulness) to the next day.
Recognize the exotic nature of your local community.
While living in Dublin through a graduate program, at first, I walked around the city awestruck – mostly at the fact I was in Dublin. I wandered streets, some lighted and some not, finding everything exotic – i.e., “I’ve never had Irish milk! Oh my!” Day in and day out, I found something new to appreciate. I drank only Guinness.
Then, one day it happened. I found myself in front of the television, watching a rerun of an American show I had already seen. Maybe I was yearning for home; but it caused an epiphany.
Regardless of where we are, at some point it all becomes mundane and ‘meh’. At that point I made a conscious decision to make wherever I was, for however long I was there, for whatever reason an exotic experience. It takes a little work, an open mind, and willingness to truly accept your current place in the Big Picture to do this.
Craft beer again offers us this chance. With each local brewery of varying sizes and niches a beer drinker should rarely find him/herself struggling for that exotic experience. Make the connection with the bartender or actual brewer, talk with the locals and regulars (you can tell who they are), observe the people and place. Local breweries and brewpubs can be an amazing link to the parts of the community that are unfound as of yet. You’ll soon find yourself sitting in a jungle with new species of animals sitting all around you. Hell, you’ll be a new species yourself to some of the other explorers. Let’s hope they don’t plan to mount you on their trophy wall.
The growth of the craft beer world is sometimes scary;
hoping it doesn’t implode again.
Hoping the return to a buy local mentality is real
and not some manufactured mantra of the moment.
Buying local isn’t just about a financial reinvestment into communities – it’s a human reinvestment into the one thing that makes everything spectacular.
Human connection, awareness, and compassion along with great beer and great people can help those great communities revive, resonate, and revel in renaissance.
Too young to die? Yep.
I still haven’t met my neighbor across the street.
It’s about time to split a sixer with him (or her).