Hob Knob Brewing Company

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Brew Smart - The NC Brewer's Guild

What a weekend!  First off, a huge thank you to Margo with the NC Brewer's Guild and Erik at Mystery Brewing for putting on a highly education, fun, and light-hearted event. Brew Smart was a great learning experience.  I have to say that just when you think you're starting to get a handle on how this industry works, you are able to meet the real experts, and they show you you've only uncovered the tip of the iceberg.  Everything from ABC licensing requirements to product quality was covered in depth.  It was a mixture of "Ah ha!", "OMG...am I really going to ask this question in front of 70 other people?", and "You know what...maybe I really can do this" moments.

To change wheels, one of the things that I have always found confusing (yet a huge blessing) about this industry is the way it turns traditional business models and ideas on your business's competition completely upside down.  For the last ten years, I've been in marketing and sales.  A fiercely competitive environment where companies and people routinely will do just about anything to get a sale.  It was a stressful field full of shell games and disingenuous people.  Where your vendors seemed to think you were only there to bother them, and the only time you heard from your customers was when they wanted to complain about something.  People were always willing to be your best friend - until the money exchanged hands.  It's the dark side of business and what it has become relegated to in many other industries outside the craft beer world.

Craft beer is different, and it's great!  I just spent the last two days with many people who, for all intents and purposes, would be considered my direct competition.  The truth is, many of these 'competitors' treated me with more respect and consideration than actual 'vendors' who I would deal with on a routine basis in my past professional life.  They were actually willing to discuss and put more time into helping me develop my business than people I would pay in the past for such services.  Granted, there are some subjects that remain somewhat 'tongue in cheek' at functions such as these. Things like recipe formulation and traditional items like financials are areas where you would tend to tread lightly.  Still, you routinely see breweries (competitors) coming together to collaborate on projects - working together to formulate some of the best brews in the world.  It was as if every area of their businesses was an open book.  All you had to do was ask.  It was such a refreshing and delightful environment to be apart of, I frequently found myself offering my own $.02 (well, I guess it could really have been considered more like a half cent than two cents) on how people could improve their own operations.

In conclusion, it was a great experience.  The costs were reasonable.  A great networking tool.The time wasn't overwhelming.  The food and beer were great.  The people were friendly and knowledgeable, and a pleasure to be around.  Cheers to the NC Brewer's Guild, and all it's members for bringing together such an incredible group of outstanding individuals.  It's made a believer out of me! :)


Hob Knob Brewing Co.