When the publisher called and said, “Hey! I have a story about beer. Are you interested?” I replied, “When? Where? How? You name it, I’ll be there!” In full disclosure, I am a fan of beer.
I arranged for a meeting with James Printz, Sales Division Manager for World Class Beer. James has recently moved to Fishers from Kansas. Rarely do I meet someone with so much passion for their line of work. From the moment we sat down, I could tell that James has a true passion for all things beer. Now I know what many of you might be thinking right now: “Big deal! I love beer too!” I am here to tell you it is different with James. Not only does he know the history of beer itself, he is dedicated to helping craft breweries tell their story, build their brands, and ultimately gain market share. Let me give you an idea of what we (James and I) are talking about when we say market share for craft beer. Nationally, craft beer makes up 6.5% of all beer sales. In Indiana, we are talking about 4.5%. That 2% gap equates to about 4 million cases. James and World Class Beer are dedicated to helping fill that gap and telling the story of craft beer.
So you might be asking yourself right now what is craft beer and how does it tell a story. Craft beer is not your buy-it-by-the-30-pack-and-guzzle-it-at-the-track-or-the-lake kind of beer. Craft beer is made from high-quality raw materials including fine hops and barley. It is labor intensive and ultimately produces a high-quality beer that, in most cases, amounts to smaller quantities; in some cases, very small quantities.
Let’s talk about how craft beer tells a story. One example James shared with me is when the British occupied India; the British soldiers wanted their English beer. With no breweries in India, they had to ship the beer to India from the British Isles. In order to keep it preserved, they threw hops on top of the barrels. As the barrels traveled around the horn of Africa and up to India on a journey of 6-8 weeks, they took on a wonderful hoppy flavor that was a big hit with the soldiers. Upon arriving home, they wanted their local breweries to produce what they called an India Pale Ale; and that is what we still call it today.
Another great story comes from hundreds of years ago in England. When two people were to become betrothed, they were required to drink Mead (which is made from honey) for a full cycle of the moon or 30 days. This is where the term honeymoon comes from.
Now let’s talk about how we can experience our own stories from craft beer today. When I travel, I don’t go into a bar and sit down and ask for a mass-produced, dime-a-dozen beer. The first thing I ask the bartender is, “What local beers do you have on tap?” From this, I have my own stories that include drinking a Golden Spike Wheat at 8000 feet in Park City, Utah, at the top of the lift. Another great memory is having a great rack of ribs on the Red Arrow Highway in Michigan and drinking a 22-ounce Oberon from Bell’s for $4. The coldest, most refreshing beer memory I ever remember having involves a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen while sitting on a patio with my family on Catalina Island.
There are many large brewery beers I have had on the back patio with friends. However, taking the time to sit, sip, and enjoy a truly quality craft beer is from where the stories and memories come. The smell of a craft beer can take me back instantly to a place and a time that I had it.
World Class Beer is all about great beer. They are helping to tell the story in many ways, including social media. You can follow them on Twitter or Facebook. They have a fantastic app called World Class Beer where you can learn more about beer or find who has your favorite craft brew on tap or on the shelf. The first thing I did upon downloading the app was to find out where I could get some Gumballhead wheat from Three Floyds Brewing Company. Much to my delight, I found out I could get some just down the street.
We have many other great story tellers here in Indiana such as Flat12 Bierwerks, Triton Brewing Company, Fountain Square Brewing, and Daredevil Brewing Company. I encourage you to go out and support these local breweries and pick up something new so you can sit back, relax, and let them tell you a great story.