Brewing up a Community

Posted on August 10, 2012 by Nathan

We’re getting dangerously close now.  The last piece of major equipment arrived tuesday (the glycol chiller for the tank jackets), and the brewhouse has been placed generally where it’s going to go.  I will still need to move it back off the brewing floor in order to seal the floor here in a couple weeks, but it’s starting to get the look and feel of the brewery (at least on the production side).

Beer brings people together.  It’s s simple fact.  Not just the allure of getting a buzz going, but there’s something even deeper when it comes to this product which is becoming more and more of an artisan endeavor. I am absolutely amazed, on a daily basis, at the community that craft beer has spawned.  People who have never met before and have nothing in common except a desire to relax and enjoy a good beer will start talking, will start helping each other out, and differences tend to fall aside.  It’s really a pretty cool thing.

One of my favorite examples of this is browsing the aisles at one of the chain alcohol stores that are peppered around the Phoenix area (the Bevmos and the Total Wines for example).  I tend to take my sweet time in the craft been aisle when I’m shopping there, and I’ve noticed that if there is even a single other person in the beer aisle for more than about 2 minutes, there is a 90% chance that we’ll strike up a conversation around what beers we’re thinking of buying and which ones we’ve had before.  Sometimes it’s somebody who has tasted every beer in the aisle, and sometimes it’s a guy or gal who is debating about taking the plunge and spending that extra couple bucks on their first IPA or Stout to ‘try out this craft beer thing’.  I love talking to both of them, and everyone in between, and I’ve noticed I’m not the only one.

How many times has that happened in the cereal aisle at the grocery store?  For me, it’s a definite never.  It doesn’t just happen at your Safeways and your Targets, .  But it can, and certainly does happen in the craft beer aisle at your grocery store, at your corner market, your local watering hole, and definitely at your local microbrewery.  There’s a certain pride that comes with enjoying craft beer, and a desire to share that with other like-minded people.

This sense of community isn’t just among the beer drinkers, but is amazingly prevalent in the craft brewing community here in Arizona as well. I speak with the guys over at Mother Road several times a week (and am currently storing some hops in their walk-in until mine is up and running) about various items of brewery operations. I got a call from Gene over at Lumberyard the other day with an invite to their Octoberfest celebration (which we’re planning on being at if all goes well). I’m good friends with Jeff and Susanne over at Cosmic/Mogollon, and the guys at Flag Brew have been shooting me periodic messages about coming by and seeing the brewery.

On an even wider scale, the other breweries who are around the state are generally really enthusiastic about seeing more folks get involved.  If you didn’t catch the pictures on facebook, you should check out the collaboration brew which Four Peaks hosted last week.  It was a collaboration with all of the new breweries which are starting up in Arizona, and they brewed up a 40 barrel batch of an ‘english summer ale with pink peppercorns’.  How great is that?  The biggest Arizona craft brewery reached out to the smallest ones in the state and said “Hey guys, we want to help you out and meet you, come down and have a beer and lets talk shop”.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it down there for it, as I had some city inspections on the plumbing that morning, and art walk was that evening.  I really wish I could have made it down there to meet everyone and hang out, but c’est la vie.  Thanks to Four Peaks for hosting, and I can’t wait to taste the final product.

Bringing everything back down to an even smaller scale, the help and encouragement I’ve gotten during the construction and setup phase of Wanderlust has been overwhelming.  It’s not a week that goes by without somebody offering their services or their encouragement during the process.  I’ve had people offering with services, expertise, equipment, and certainly encouragement.  It’s amazing the community here in Flagstaff, and our ability to support somebody who truly has a dream and a vision of how they want to start a business.

They say the economy has leveled out and maybe even started an uptick, and I truly believe that it never really took that much of a nosedive here in Flag, especially when it comes to an enthusiastic and properly planned small-business.  There are several ones that have been successful, and it shows how much our community can support it.

So to all the people who have shown their support and encouragement, thanks for helping to build an excellent craft beer community here in Flagstaff, in Arizona, and beyond that as well.  The future is looking bright for good beer in Flagstaff and beyond.

And to everyone who has offered their help: You might be getting a call in the next day or two, I’ve got a bar to build, a walk-in to seal up, and a floor to coat and paint….. and about 100 other things to take care of before that first batch hits the fermenters.

Post Categories: Beer, business plan, community

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