Imagine yourself out on a Saturday night, enjoying some tasty beverages, when this interaction unfolds:
My girl Rian: “Hey, it’s good to see you, let me buy you a drink, what do you want?”
Dudeman: “Hey, yeah, I’ll have a beer”
Rian: “Well, there’s like a whole bunch of different beers here. Which one do you want?”
Dudeman: “Just like a Coors Light”
Rian, now annoyed: “There are at least 25 different craft beers here and you want a Coors Light?”
Dudeman, also now annoyed: “What in the f is a craft beer?”
As I sat next to my girl Rian and listened to this conversation, it brought me down to earth. It seemed shocking that someone really didn’t know anything about craft beer. And then, the realization that there he’s not alone; there’s no possible way he’s the only one in the whole world that doesn’t know about craft beer.
Did we dive into what craft beer is, and how to find a beer dudeman would like? Of course, the door was wide open in front of me, and in I went; it’s like meeting someone from another country and getting to teach them rock, paper, scissors. But just because I got to hear dudeman say aloud “what the f is a craft beer” doesn’t mean that I will have this opportunity again. I see people drinking all sorts of things all the time (I’m a notorious barfly) but I don’t ask them about what they’re drinking because it’s none of my business. How many of them are sitting there questioning what in the world a saison is when they see it on the board, or what in the world is that dark red beer in my glass?
I’ve thought of this conversation often, and keep it in the back of my mind when interacting with others about craft beer. It’s changed how I plan organize events like Harrisburg Beer Week. People don’t know about craft beer. Let me say this again in case I wasn’t clear, people do not know about craft beer.
It’s easy to think that everyone knows about craft beer, but as a choice, for a variety of reasons they aren’t drinking it. This is not the case. People do not know about craft beer. When you surround yourself with like-minded individuals, it’s easy to think that everyone is exactly like you and your friends (take this year’s election as a prime example). This is not the case. People do not know about craft beer. When you’re at a brewery or a craft beer-focused bar and it’s crowded and there’s a line for Zwanze day or a bottle release it’s easy to think that craft beer is just as much of a part of everyone’s lives as yours. This is not the case. People do not know about craft beer.
It’s just like a lot of hobbies. You got this super rare signed baseball card on eBay that you’ve wanted since you were a kid. Yeah, sure, we all know what baseball is, but that doesn’t mean we understand the value of what you’ve purchased and why baseball card collecting is a thing.
Remember this when you start to think that basic education about craft beer is no longer relevant. Remember this when you start diving into explaining the effects of different yeast varieties to people. Remember this when you tell someone you prefer beers with Mosaic hops over Cascade. You can’t teach calculus without starting at basic math.
Remember this when someone looks at you weird for ordering that real dark beer, or that sour beer, or that ‘weird’ beer.
People do not know about craft beer. It is our job educate.