Monday, December 10, 2012

How to get more involved with your local beer community

For as long as I have been sharing news and opinions about the beer industry, I have noticed an increase in the number of beer fans around the midwest. Which is great! Amongst those fans are a few that want to get more involved in their local beer community but are not sure how to go about doing so. If you consider yourself in that group of people, then this post is for you.

With this post, my goal is to convey advice that may prove helpful to those people that want to take the next step with their involvement in their local beer community. What I share below is what worked for me. I hope it works for you.

While reading what follows below, please keep in mind the following:
  • The advice I give does not guarantee, and it should not be assumed it will lead to a paying job
  • This advice will not lead to immediate 'results'

Everything beer related that I have been able to be a part of at this time is a result of my establishment, and maintaining of a beer blog and the related twitter (@midwestbeerblog) and facebook feeds. I've been led to believe that they show that I am a guy that is passionate and appreciative of beer. So, my first bit of advice is to consider creating a blog (at the very least) to share your thoughts on beer. If you already maintain a twitter/facebook feed, consider adding in links to articles/posts about beer and what is going on in the beer industry.

I would advise against doing a beer review blog because those are a dime a dozen. In addition, it would be difficult to make your beer review site stand out amongst other, more established beer review sites. 

If starting a beer blog, twitter feed, facebook page, etc are not things you want to do, consider approaching your local brewery/brewpub directly. What I mean by that is to visit them face-to-face. Do not call or email your local brewery/brewpub to notify them that you would like to help them out on a voluntary basis. Instead, put in the time and effort to try and meet with a brewery employee and convey your desire to help out if needed. For me, my local is Half Acre Beer Company. The moment I knew about them, and confirmed that they setup shop a few blocks from my home, I walked down during the day and approached the owner/founder. I introduced myself and asked him to let me know that he could contact me if he ever needed additional (i.e. free) help around his brewery. I figured my visit would not be in vain because they were a young/new brewery that could probably use additional help doing things  such as labeling bottles and kegs. In this case I was right.

Do not fret if your local does not get back to you immediately. If they are a young brewery/brewpub they could be working to keep up with a rapidly changing environment that they may not be that familiar with. In other words - they may have a lot on their plate at the moment, but fear not - it is rare that anyone forgets offers of free help. 

If approaching your local brewery(s) does not bear any fruit, consider getting in touch with the your state's brewers guild (at this time I believe that North & South Dakota, and Wyoming do not have brewers guilds so consider being the person that tries to organize such a group). I got in touch with the Illinois Brewers Guild in an odd way. Specifically, I was the 500th follower of the Illinois Brewers Guild twitter feed (@illinoisbeer) and I was awarded a prize. In order to claim my prize I had to meet with a guild representative at a brewpub in downtown Chicago. During our rendezvous, I mentioned to the rep that I ran a beer blog and that I would love to help the guild in anyway possible. I gave him a business card and I was contacted by him within a week. Ever since that day, I have been helping to create material for the Illinois Brewers Guild website (illinoisbeer.com).

If none of the aforementioned ideas work for you, consider perusing facebook and twitter for established beer blogs and beer focused communities. They may be looking for additional help with providing news, opinion pieces, etc. An affiliation with an established beer community/blog may help you network with people that are already actively involved in your local beer community. At the very least, it is a great way to connect with fellow beer fans.

Perhaps most importantly, do not give up. Persistance and dedication to your goal will (hopefully) pay off in time. It may not pay off in the way you had originally wanted, but putting in any effort will bear fruit of some kind.

A beer community comprised of active, passionate, and involved beer fans is a good one, and being a part of one is a great connection to have!

Have a great week!!