The future of better beer is in your hands, now what are you going to do with it? That is the question I’m asking our loyal readers to ponder in the first few months of the New Year. The continued success of craft brewers and the industry that supports them will not depend in the long-term on a small but passionate group of beer geeks buying greater amounts of quality ales and lagers. Instead, craft beer’s prospects rest with the uninitiated masses who have yet to embrace the products we love.
As a niche within a niche, BeerAdvocates spend a lot of time talking amongst themselves. We attend festivals, visit select bars, and chat online with one another about which breweries are exciting or disappointing us. All the while, we tend to ignore people who have not yet sought membership in the good beer club. We have each experienced a beer awakening at some point, a moment of clarity where the beer and moment met and a spark quickly developed into a forest blaze. So why not take some time to give the gift of good beer this year to someone who really needs it? For you aspiring beer evangelists, here are some tips to assist in your endeavors at spreading the fire to new communities.
Beer Tip Number 1: Bring a friend to a beer festival. With their unparalleled offerings, there is no better place to introduce beer neophytes to the wide world of craft beer than at a festival. While basking in the glow of craft beer camaraderie, beer newbies can sample a wide array of brands with no added financial or judgment pressure. If they don’t like a beer, tell them to toss it and try something new. Try and help your friends break down their beer prejudices by trying a range of beers, from light to dark and hoppy to malty.
Beer Tip Number 2: Follow up your festival visit by buying a mixed six-pack of beers your friend enjoyed in order to reinforce the experience.
Beer Tip Number 3: If a festival is out of your budgets or too big a first step, why not invite your friend out to a local brewpub. More than any other source, brewpubs are the frontlines of the American craft brewing movement. For the price, there is no better way to expose your friends to a bevy of beer styles in a safe, friendly environment. If a little weary of new places or trying new beers, order a safe beer for your friend and a sampler for yourself and share. The brewpub sampler, which can range from three beers to a dozen or more, is the surest conversion tool you have for getting others started on the craft beer experience.
Beer Tip Number 4: Invite your friend, or better yet, your friends out for a brewery tour. A few years ago, the Brewers Association observed that the majority of Americans live within ten miles of a brewery. It’s time to capitalize on your good fortune. Check BeerAdvocate.com for a list of your local breweries and then contact them for tour times or to schedule a visit. Most breweries welcome visitors and do a fantastic job of educating and courting new customers. Sometimes just meeting a brewer is enough to break down beer prejudices and it’s a great way to support your local brewery.
Beer Tip Number 5: Once you’ve planted the better beer seed, nurture your creation with the gift of knowledge. The better informed prospective consumers are about their options, the more confident they will feel in their purchases. Buy your friend a book on local beers or gift them a subscription to BeerAdvocate or another beer magazine for their birthday. Reinforcing their better beer experiences with information will hopefully seal the deal on their beer conversion.
In undertaking your missionary duties as foot soldiers in the better beer brigade, remember the keys to beer evangelism: Don’t judge or push and always have fun. Happy converting.
–Article appeared in Volume III, Issue II of BeerAdvocate Magazine.