Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

I write about craft beer and craft brewing, and know quite a few people who brew and drink craft beer. Months go by for me when I do not really think about the large, industrial breweries unless they are buying up some of the smaller craft breweries. 

I have tried wine and other types of alcohol, but I do not really think about them these days. My time and attention is focused on craft beer and breweries.

Then I saw one of these reports about beer volume sales. According to what I saw, total beer volume sales in the United States declined 1.2 % during the early days of 2017. Volume sales of craft beer did increase, but only by 1.6%, during the same period of time.

The information got me wondering. I may be a little biased, but it got me asking Why doesn’t everyone drink craft beer? Has everyone actually tried tasting craft beer? Are people intimidated or afraid? What are the obstacles? Who would not love a great hand-crafted brew right now? So I did a little non-scientific, non-random research.

First of all, there are people who do not drink alcohol at all. I respect that, whether for philosophical, personal, or chemical-dependency issues. It is not as if everyone is required to drink alcohol.

Second, there are people who do not really think that much about what they drink. They may have been raised by people who were Miller or Budweiser fans and they inherited their tastes.

It is not surprising that the main large, industrial brewery operations are parts of even larger corporations. These companies spend much more on advertising than smaller craft breweries do. It intrigues me these well-funded advertising efforts rarely talk about how industrial beers taste, other than an occasional “tastes great.”

The larger brewing operations also tend to control the paths of distribution, which is why craft beer can be harder to find than industrial beers. It takes people more effort to find and explore beers produced by craft breweries.

Some people may have preconceptions about what beer is and what it tastes like. Beer is apparently not a part of their lives they want to spend much time thinking about and they usually continue to drink what they are comfortable drinking.

There are some people who spend time thinking about what they drink and who prefer to drink things other than beer. Again, it is not as if everyone is required to drink beer.

People often tend to underestimate the culture and history of brewing and beer drinking.  There are though, strong cultural and historic reasons for people to at least try tasting a craft beer.

I explored some of the ways home- and hand-crafted beer has shaped American history a couple of months ago. Beer has influenced the history of civilization in even more varied ways, including its contributions to monastic life. Many of the distinctions between people who drink beer and those who prefer other alcoholic beverages are interpreted as class differences. One of the benefits of craft beer is it tends to erase those class-related distinctions.

There are people who feel a little intimidated by trying to find and enter a craft brewery tasting room for the first time. Some of them can be challenging to find. There tends to be a set of expectations which establishes the culture of craft breweries. 

Yes, some breweries and tasting rooms are located in fairly out-of-the-way places. Many   craft breweries operate on the lowest overhead they can find, which affects where they set up shop. I enjoy the challenge, and Siri has proven to be good at finding tasting rooms.

It can be intimidating to walk into a place you have never visited before when you are exploring craft breweries. I find it helps to tell the person at the bar you are new, you are trying to learn about their brewery, and what kinds of beer you like to taste. Asking questions is a great way to find out more.

You could always tell them you want to help increase craft beer volume sales this month.

It is a great month to try something new.

Greg Richardson is a leadership and organizational coach, and a spiritual life mentor, in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive, and university professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

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