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It took a little doing, but on Oct. 24 Ocean City will put on its first beer festival featuring exclusively local beers. To celebrate the fact, several of the local brewers got together and made up a couple batches of homebrew both to celebrate their roots and to get something together in time for the event.
Recipe development isn’t always easy, and it was kind of important that no one brewery used one of their new recipes, so we turned to homebrew savant Doug Griffith. As has been mentioned elsewhere and before, Doug runs Xtreme Brewing and has been an ally to all of the homebrewers in the area. He’s also helped a lot of the local brewers get started.
In a future post I’ll talk more about the beer we’ll be serving at the #OCtoberfest but today’s post is about support personnel, including yours truly.
What I love about the featured photo here is that it’s a brief profile of why the craft beer revolution works as well as it does and remains sustainable. Toby, Jerry, Doug, Ann, Jason and Sam are the people pictured. Jerry and Jason brew for 3rd Wave and Assawoman Bay, respectively. Toby and Sam sell for them.
Selling craft beer well is as critical as making it well. Increasingly breweries need people to run point for them in an increasingly crowded marketplace. If you think of the brewers as the creators, the sales guys are the ones who translate between the initiated and the would-be beer drinkers. It isn’t the the brewers don’t sell their beers well, so much as having an intermediary who understands the business is critical at the retail level.
Brewers go to shows and talk up their beers, but the marketing guys (and gals) got to retailers and make certain people understand the difference between the beers and can recommend them seriously and accurately.
Ann represents a kind of different advocate. Breweries advocate for their craft beer specifically and craft beer generally. She locates it in space, working as an intermediary between the businesses that may or may not see how local craft beer benefits them, and the brewing community. Just as brewers can’t go to every store and fight for space, marketing people can’t also advocate to every business or government agency.
For those of us in the cheering section it really is about being the change you want to see in the world. We believe strong local economies can be built by focusing on the specifics of the area. As big and exciting as it has been to watch the rise of craft beer, it’s maintenance as an economic development tool and indicator will have to fall as much to advocacy as anything else.
Talking about why beer is tasty takes as specific a set of skills as writing about why it is a central part of strengthening and insulating economies. From Colonial times, beer has been at the center of self sufficiency as much as an agricultural (and regular-cultural) product as any single other thing America produces. In the coming years we’ll be exporting more and more of it around the world, so it is important that we remember where it comes from, and take that responsibility seriously.