Community vs. Industry

July 27, 2013

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You will hardly ever hear our relatively “small” group of craft brewers referred to as an industry, we are a community. The beer community.

I was fortunate enough to head out west to the beautiful beer state of Colorado earlier in the month over the Independence weekend. It would be an understatement to say the trip was amazing. Colorado Rockies game to watch the fireworks, Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show at Red Rocks Amphitheater, 10+ breweries in four days including New Belgium, Odell, Avery, Left Hand, and Oskar Blues. It doesn’t hurt when two of your best friends from Charlotte join you and just so happen to love craft beer & the outdoors as much as you do. I could go on and on about the beers and breweries in Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins, and Longmont but we’ve already got a Colorado blog thanks to Chad.

I want to talk about the people of craft beer. There are no boundaries here. Chad put it best, “The beer community is best summed up as an overall network of producers, suppliers, consumers, and advocates of craft beer.” Out of all of the amazing things I was able to get into in CO, the people were, by far, my favorite attribute of this trip. This extends way past meeting people at a tap room. A friend of mine, once said to me, “beer is like a social lubricator” or something like that. (Who knows, we were sharing a few beers together.) Now, don’t take that the wrong way, but everyone can speak about beer or have a conversation over a beer.

During our trip, we were able to meet Ted Coffelt, who had been sober for 20+ years. You would think that this man wouldn’t be able to relate to our tightly knit community but no, of course he could. Ted had stories for hours and one of them was about his experiences home brewing in Alaska. It was stunning to see what this man had learned over his decades of exploring the world and the narratives that came with it. We were lucky enough to hear many of these accounts as he took us out to breakfast at Village Coffee Shop and then up the Flat Irons to see the Continental Divide.

Our last assignment of the trip was to venture to Golden, CO to see those hometown boys, Scott and Seth Avett, represent NC beautifully. We had rented a Fiat to get us out there which, believe it or not, wasn’t the best tailgating vehicle. Luckily, a Ford pick up truck parked in front of us with Texas plates. They had to know how to have a good time! The door opened, and out hopped Emma, a little girl who could barely climb into this farm truck. A few minutes later we met her father, Bobby, and the rest of the Tyler family. We, of course, joined their tailgate which consisted of the boys talking about their previous concert with The Lumineers. Emma was getting giddy in hopes of singing her favorite Old Crow song, Wagon Wheel. Dad finally popped the beer out and it was none other than that shiny blue can we all know as crap beer (or Bud Light). We had a few and I finally offered one of our cans from a local brewery. With no hesitation, he snatched it up and said, “Thank you so much” and something along the lines of, I just drink these because they’re free/cheap. The conversation quickly went into Texas beers and what he liked near his hometown in the panhandle of the Lone Star State. After chatting on beer for a bit and Emma referring to Bud Light as “blues”, it was time to head into the show. The beer, music, and great times will come and go but the relationships we made out there…so much more.

As I’ve come to find out, the beer community steps beyond the tap room doors. Chad stated, our community “is more open, creative, expressive, and just outright different”. Todd, our owner, finished up by saying “craft brewers recognize that the rising tide floats all boats”. This not only speaks on our healthy competition within craft beer, but the sense of community that is created within a simple cheers between new and old friends.

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