As we were recording his podcast the other day, former beer writer of the year Phil Cook said something that has stuck with me. He said that 2014 was the year of the beer community. Actually, he said that too many of his community ideas had happened at the end of 2014, so it was actually the year of something else, but this idea of community really hit home to me.
It’s obvious when you look at things like the Yeastie Boys equity crowdfunding float via PledgeMe. Half a million dollars was raised in such a short a time that when you asked what the total was, no two people could give you the same answer — the page was refreshing at an astonishing rate.
The amazing response to the Craft Beer Calendar is another great example. As is the community of women who took part in the Pink Boots brew on International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. Or the legions of volunteers at Beervana or SOBA events, or any of the other big festivals.
But it’s more than all that.
Sitting at the table with me and Phil were George Langlands, the other half of the Beer Diary Podcast, and Jono Galuszka, reporter for the Manawatu Standard and writer of the excellent From Drinker to Brewer blog. Jono had been in town covering the Mark Lundy trial, which had only just finished, and he was on the come-down from doing almost nothing but writing.
George and Phil were resurrecting the podcast, after a hiatus, with a ‘Year in Review’ show and had invited me and Jono to join them. If you haven’t listened to the Beer Diary Podcast before, please do so — it’s a wonderful rambling journey through interesting beers and interesting topics. I made my first appearance just so that Phil and I could argue about beer names.
When it came to naming the winner of our ‘Person who writes about beer on the Internet of the year’ award, Phil and I nominated Dylan Jauslin. Dylan’s writing on The Bottleneck blog is superb, dry and flat-out honest.
So when Phil later talked about “the year of the beer community”, I was struck by this idea. All we had been doing was sitting and talking about the amazing community we were part of: the people we loved, and the things we didn’t love that threatened the harmony of the community. It’s not as cultish as it sounds, but more that we all like each other and that’s why we get along.
Now where do I go with this? “Beer brings people together, bro”? Not really, because frankly, we don’t all get along. We are more like a big dysfunctional family — and you don’t mess with family.