Wednesday, January 1, 2014

An Interesting Year of Beer in 2013....looking forward to 2014

I've had a great year of beer.  Not that anyone could really have a bad year of beer.  I've been particularly pleased with the beers I've had.  I've made a lot of new internet beer friends through various online communities (Instagram, Beer Advocate, Twitter, etc.).  I've tried beers in 2013 that at the beginning of the year I never imagined I would get the chance to try.  Beers like Cantillon Fou Foune (thanks Jake and Rob), Founders Blushing Monk (thanks Russ), The Bruery Chocolate Rain (thanks Russ), The Alchemist Luscious (thanks Rob), and many others thanks to the many friends I've been fortunate to share beers with.

I had a great Dark Lord Day.  Probably my favorite story from that day was my Chocolate Rain story that my buddy Parker reminded me of the other day.  He wasn't there, but he's heard me tell the story.  The Bruery Chocolate Rain was on my list of beers that I wanted to experience in 2013.  I mean, there really isn't an official written list.  It's more just a few things in mind that would be nice to try.  The beer is difficult to get and it's supposed to be pretty good.  At Dark Lord Day you get to experience sharing many awesome beers with people throughout the day.  All in all I tried over 50 beers that day.  I was white girl wasted at the end.  After drinking all day, with no Chocolate Rain in sight, I exited the venue with my little sister.  On our walk back to the car I happened to look at the line of fallen soldiers on the ground.  Beers that were consumed and shared in the line and the empty bottles lay in a long row signifying their contribution to the day.  There it was.  A bottle of Chocolate Rain.  On the ground.  Baked in the sun.  I pick up the bottle.  I examine it.  There seemed to be maybe half a sip left in the bottle.  I took it to the dome.

I got yelled at by drive thru liquor store employee in Ohio.  When I say yelled at, I literally mean the guy screamed at me and cursed me out.  You can read about it here.  If you haven't read that post, it's definitely worth the read.  

I had incredible bottle shares with a plethora of great people.  Traded beer with great people.  Given beer to great people.  As a result I feel like I've made many new friends.  Stewards of craft beer.  Genuinely good people, with whom I look forward to spending more time in the coming year.  

I'm not going to go into any lists or anything like that.  There are many out there already.  I've just had a great year.

But I also want change.

I want certain things to get out of craft beer.  There is a certain elitist attitude that I see way to frequently.  Craft beer isn't about how many more Instagram followers you can get than I have.  It's not a "My saturday night is better than yours" kind of place.  It's not about trying to amass the most untappd badges and beating everyone else in the amount of unique beers you check-in to.  Be grateful.  Be humble.  Be supportive of each other.  I recently heard a story of someone who sent beers to another person.  The other person was miffed because the guy sent an Against the Grain Bo and Luke and called it a "shelf-turd".  Seriously?  You were given beer.  There is no place in craft beer for that kind of my opinion.  These are the kinds of attitudes that I would like to see disappear.  Replaced with more encouragement and support.  Encouragement and support are foundational pieces that facilitate growth in the craft beer movement. 

I'd like to see more blogs that are worth reading.  Hoosier Beer Geek gets it right.  They are professional, knowledgeable, educational, witty, and incredibly helpful.  There are way too many blogs out there that put out blatantly incorrect information and are written with the spelling and grammar of a third grade student.  It's sickening.  Too many people want a piece of the revolution and they neglect the things that are required to be taken seriously as writers.  Which is also a problem...they aren't writers.  Hell I'm not a writer.  I can say, though, that I generally have a handle on spelling and grammar...and before I put out information I sure as hell will research the topic so I can write responsibly.

I have a blog.  But I know and accept my place.  My writing isn't going to start a revolution.  I'm not writing to make it big and get noticed by breweries or distributors.  I write about stuff because it's fun.  I started this blog to pass along information and document my beer experiences.  Expressing opinions and sharing ideas is exciting to me.  It's nice to have people that read it, but I would do it if I had zero readers.  Would I like to write for a well established group?  Sure.  But HBG isn't knocking down my door and I don't know if I want to do the work required to contribute to something else.  I barely get out one measly post a month for myself.  There are other blogs out there, but none seem to quite fit my style or vision.  Which is perfectly fine.  And I do need to consider that maybe bringing my style and vision to an existing group that is different than I could actually be a good thing for my own personal growth. 

More important than blogs, I want to enjoy beer and talk about beer with my current group of beer friends and meet new people who share the passion we all have.  I truly believe the best thing for craft beer is conversation.  The more conversation we have the more unified we become as a group.  This grows the community.  And it's just a shitload of fun.  I honestly get more out of conversation with others than I do any single blog post.

I want more exceptional Indiana beer.  The harsh reality is that there is a lot of mediocre beer made by Indiana breweries.  There just isn't a whole lot of creativity.  The most creative brewery around here is Flat 12, and they aren't afraid to swing and miss on a beer.  I love that approach.  Though they rarely miss.  There are a lot of good breweries out there, but not many that set themselves apart from the pack with a unique identity. If you are gonna roll out your brand by pushing an IPA, it better knock peoples socks off because there are so many IPA's out there that are mirror images of each other and lack that "wow" factor that is critical to make a splash.  With breweries like Fat Heads, Oskar Blues, and others recently entering the Indiana market, new Indiana breweries need to make beers that are going to be on par with the quality those others demonstrate.  It's all about the beer.  Not your marketing or your tweets.  If you don't have the product, it's not going to make it.  Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and are wanting more out of their beer.

I want a place like Iechyd Da to be in Indianapolis...and we just don't have that here.  If you've never been there, it's a trip worth making.  Incredible food and great beers.  There is a reason they were voted the best brewpub in Indiana by the readers of Hoosier Beer Geek.   Black Acre is close.  As is the Broad Ripple Brewpub, which for some reason is overlooked by people here.  It's a classic brewpub.   In fact, I love the Broad Ripple brewpub.  It's a classic English style pub with great food, perfect atmosphere, and solid beers that aren't pretending to be something bigger and bolder than they are. 

Despite some of my criticisms, I am actually excited and eager to see what happens in this state in 2014.  My pipe dream is that breweries like Firestone Walker, Cigar City, Ballast Point, and Odell get their beers to our state this year...or at least state intention to do so.  I am thrilled to see the growth of craft beer in this state and am hopeful that all of the 35+ breweries planning to open will be successful and continue to grow the reputation of Indiana beer.

What do you look forward to this year regarding beer?  

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