There is something special about the craft beer community. From the moment I got involved with craft beer, I could tell that this was more than just a hobby. Everyone I met spoke of craft beer as a way of life not just a beverage they drank on occasion.
But what is it that draws people in and changes how they view beer?
I think many find it odd when I talk about craft beer drinkers as a community. It can almost sound like an excuse for why I like beer so much. Yes, I enjoy drinking craft beer but I would not be a raving fan without the community.
My early opinion of beer was not good. I thought it was quite terrible. That is probably because of the American light lagers that I subjected myself to. But over time, I began to see that not all beer was bad. I recall Amber Bock and Sam Adams Cherry Wheat being two beers that first caught my attention. But even then, I was not sold that beer was more than something I would drink on occasion.
Everything changed when I began to try more craft beers and see that those around me were drinking them too. They encouraged me to try new styles and breweries. Conversations started and he rest is what they call history. I began using social media and eventually this blog to explore my craft beer fascination. Since then, friends and family have come along with me to explore everything that beer can be.
But don’t miss the most important part; it was the people that drove me to consider craft beer more than just a drink. It was the relationships formed around the beer that gave it value; not the other way around. The community keeps me coming back to learn more and meet more craft beer fans.
Craft Beer Is Changing Perceptions
I always considered beer to be a cheap, low budget drink. It was what you drank if you wanted a cheap form of alcohol. I don’t think I am alone in that thought either. But that is a terrible opinion. I now realize that beer of all kinds has been brining people together as long as it’s been made. Pubs, tail gates and other social environments have always had beer as part of the appeal. But I rarely saw beer outside of the drink for large, casual social events.
That is where craft beer is making its mark. Craft beer has changed the perception of beer. It is no longer just the drink for grill outs, frat parties and fishing trips. It is now the drink of choice for any situation. You can proudly order a craft beer with your steak dinner and not feel like the server is looking at you weird.
Going to the local bar was something that was for the young and single crowd. Now going to the local taproom is something that can be done at any time and by anyone. Young, old, single, married, families and any other demographic is welcomed. In fact, my last post was just about kids in taprooms.
These changed perceptions are why there are more breweries opening every month and why more people will embrace craft beer as a beverage that unites us.
The Craft Beer Community
That word – COMMUNITY – is what it is all about.
For me, the community of craft beer enthusiasts are just as important to craft beer as the beer itself. Yes, you read that correctly.
It is the amazing community of people that make craft beer what it is.
You think I’m crazy? It is the people that have created the craft beer movement. Their passion and creativity has led to the craziness we call the craft beer community. I go to breweries to try their latest beer but I am also there to connect with others. I spend more time talking about beer than actually drinking it; so for me the community is what it is all about.
In a recent post, I wrote about 15,000 people showing up to a brewery grand opening and my conclusion was there was something more than beer happening there. Beer doesn’t make 15,000 people show up but community does. Taprooms are becoming the hub of the local neighborhood and it is the craft beer community that is attracting more and more people.
Because of this, it is equally important for a brewery to focus on building community and culture as it is to brew great beer. In fact, Inc. Magazine recently did a piece on MadTree Brewing and discussed this exact practice. They say they focus on building culture just as much as brewing beer; why? Because it is all about the people; it is all about the community.
But What About The Beer?
Yes, I know others will argue that “it starts with great beer” and I acknowledge their point. I truly enjoy the quality, complexity and variety that craft beer provides. But what I enjoy even more is talking to another craft beer fan and getting to know them.
This industry would not be growing without people coming together to share and connect over beer. Those connections are happening at breweries and taprooms but they are also happening here on this blog. They are happening on social media. They are happening in the workplace as co-workers share craft beer experiences. It goes beyond the brewery, beyond the taproom. Craft beer flows through our communities and into our lives.
The craft beer industry would not be growing without the craft beer community coming together to get to know each other, find common ground, make our neighborhoods better and enjoy a high quality brew.
The community of amazing people is why I love craft beer.