Community Support, Fueled by Passion
About a month ago, I went to a New Year’s Eve party at a local brewery. There was live music, an assortment of finger foods from a pub down the street and a great crowd. And of course, there was beer.
But the beer poured that night did not come from the brewery that hosted the party to ring in the new year. Instead, all of the kegs and casks came from the brewery’s in-state competitors. Wait… what?
In what industry would a business host a party for insiders, enthusiasts and potential customers and serve its competitors’ creations and not its own?
Along those same lines, another local brewery recently ran into a problem with its bottle caps not fitting properly, and it discovered this issue only after a third of its bottles had already been released. Three area breweries immediately stepped in to offer help. They loaned the brewery a corker, supplied corks and cages and provided advice on the corking process.
Why would breweries down the road from each other want to help another brewery put its beer on shelves beside their very own bottles?
This summer, a tropical storm flooded The Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waterbury, VT. Head brewer John Kimmich had to empty sixteen tanks of his beer “down the drain just to get them [to stand] back up on their feet.” Fortunately, he found four secondary tanks that were still standing and under pressure.
Steve Miller with Harpoon Brewery sent sixty-four kegs two days later to The Alchemist to hold the rescued beer. Matt Nadeau at Rock Art Brewery stored the Harpoon kegs filled with The Alchemist beer at his facilities. Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead Brewery helped bottle The Alchemist brew coming from the Harpoon kegs that Rock Art had stored. All of these breweries have operations in Vermont, and all of them make beer.
Why would you not want one fewer player in your market, even if it were temporary?
The brewery that held the New Year’s Eve party a month ago had a good reason for not serving its beer. Because it was new, the brewery was still in the process of obtaining the required permits from the state’s alcohol-governing body to serve its beer. If this is the case, why hold an event featuring competitors’ beers in the first place?
Writing about the Vermont beer industry in particular, Kimmich tells us why. “The… brewing community in its entirety is one of the most unique entities in the world, a group of like-minded and caring people that want nothing more than to share their passion for beer with the public.”
Fortunately for all of us, it is this passion that makes brewers’ biggest competitors their biggest supporters. How has your local brewing community shown support for its members recently?