Franny Fullpint’s Five Hopes for Craft Beer in 2019
There’s no denying that this year was a rough one for a lot of people. Whether your discontents came from personal challenges, empathizing with others, or just watching too closely at the news every morning, we feel you. On the craft beer news side, it’s also been a hectic year with even more mergers & acquisitions, various PR blunders, and devastating closures. And while there was always good news to counter the bad, when we look back on the year, we can’t help but feel like all of it was just a bit…blurry. While many folks are spending their final hours of 2018 reminiscing on the best beers they had, I wanted to look forward to 2019; to share some of my thoughts on what I personally hope to see in this ever-evolving craft beer community we’re in.
Here are the five things I hope to see in 2019:
- Drink the beer (it’s what it’s there for). The massive hype machine raged on this year with even more trades for highly-coveted rare beers and hazy IPAs, and while it’s impressive to see what kind of brands and loyal fanfare have been established in the last couple of years, there is one thing that has always bothered me about it all: some folks aren’t drinking the beer they’re waiting hours for. The controversial topic of proxies and mules aside, I’m talking about the people who say they love these breweries and the beers they make…but never actually try it for themselves because they’ve got to immediately rush home to pack it up and ship it across the country for a trade. You know who you are. I’m not trying to knock your hobby, your level of “hook it up for a buddy-ness,” or even your entrepreneurial secondary market-ness (which I don’t like, but to each his own). But seriously, drink the beer. You don’t have to drink all of it, but before you put it up on the ‘gram for those mad likes then throw it into a box to ship out, save one of those cans for YOU. I dare you.
- Drink outside your comfort zone. I’m not trying to pick on haze-bros, I swear. This sentiment applies to everyone who has definitively “decided” that they don’t like large groups of beer styles. So whether you’re one of those people who “only like hazy IPAs” or “don’t like dark beer,” I challenge you to branch out and try new things. Tasting flights at breweries and bars are the perfect learning tool for those who are stuck on things they know they like or don’t like. Who knows, maybe the reason why you don’t like porters is because you’d only had a saccharine-sweet malt bomb and never revisited the style after that? Or better yet, maybe you’ve only had warm shelf-turd west coast IPAs and it turns out you actually DO like that crisp west coast dank hoppy goodness when it’s done well (and FRESH)? Taste the rainbow, folks.
- Keep holding people accountable. This one’s a bit of a heated one. As a writer and as a generally open-minded person, I’m all for the freedom of speech and creative expression. But as a woman in a male-dominated industry who has had to work her ass off to be taken seriously, this point is very important to me. Don’t objectify women or use bigotry masked as “humor” to sell your brand. If your beer’s so good, you don’t need to pander. There were varying opinions floating around when the Brewers Association made it a priority to try and clean up some of the terrible beer names out there. Some people thought they were being censored or silenced…but really, have you seen some of the crap out there? This isn’t just about what you name things either. Think about how you conduct business when you undermine someone’s gender, race, creed, etc. Beer should be a common denominator.
- Double-Down on Independent Craft. People are quick to cry foul when a craft brewery gets bought out by one of the big guys, but as business gets harder and the market becomes more aggressive, it’s even more important to be mindful of who you’re giving your money to. When you’re picking up a 6-pack, look for that certified Independent Craft seal. When seeking out beer festivals and events, look at what your local brewers guild is up to! Full-disclosure, my day job is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild and let me tell you – it’s not getting easier for us over here. As the local nonprofit trade organization that advocates for the independent breweries in my region, it is constantly an uphill climb to raise funds and keep our organization alive through event revenue. We don’t have the giant, shiny marketing and event budgets that for-profit producers have so we truly appreciate every bit of support we can get. Nearly every state in the U.S. has a guild and there are quite a few smaller organizations within those states, too.
- Brewers – be better. This last one is directed to everyone who helps run a craft brewery. If you think you’re making great beer and you’ve become complacent, you’re not being a good brewer. In our experience, the best brewers are the ones that know that they have to keep learning as much as they can to stay ahead of the curve. Competition is stiff and big beer’s claims of our industry’s lack of consistency and quality-management didn’t materialize out of thin air. Additionally, it’s also hard for consumers to double-down on craft when we hear about how companies treat (or don’t treat) their own employees. Small business is difficult, we get it. But at the same time, every company who aims to retain their talent and foster good culture should take every aspect of your business into account. This not only includes fair wages and benefits, but employee morale, too. There’s nothing more disappointing for me than to hear about how a brewery I like and respect mistreats their own people.
On behalf of The Full Pint family, we hope that you all have a safe and happy new year. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to sharing more beer news, reviews, and insights with you in 2019. Smell ya later, 2018!