As I’m sitting in the drive-through line at the bank, I notice a bumper sticker for Tae Kwon Do America, a logo encircled by five principles. I couldn’t help but think that these principles are both necessary and present in the world of craft beer.
1. Indomitable Spirit: Unable to be subdued, the successful craft brewer beats the odds against the macros with money, power and inferior products. He places emphasis on quality ingredients, hard work and word-of-mouth advertising.
2. Courtesy: Considerate of others, the successful craft brewer takes time to chat with his fans, delights in the company of his fellow brewers. He may be a shrewd businessman, but his is also just plain good.
3. Integrity: Adhering to a strong set of values and respect for his beverage, the successful craft brewer is proud of his skills and the tradition of his craft, and bruised when it is viewed as or used as simply an Alcohol Delivery System.
4. Perseverance: Despite opposition and discouragement, the successful craft brewer sticks it out. He labors long hours for menial pay. He works to educate the public and build momentum for his product, well past exhaustion.
5. Self-control: Brewing for a living sounds like a great job doesn’t it? But do you think you could drink beer all day and get hammered every night and still have a business? No. It’s hard work that demands care and discipline and good judgement and politeness to the occasional jerk.
I’ve had the good fortune in my life to work in both the areas of social work and of brewing. Both have steeped me with learning experiences, but guess which one I prefer? Guess which one was filled with back-biters. Guess which one was filled with whiners. Guess which one was filled with slackers. Guess which one I won’t be a part of again.
I’d rather be a part of the wonderful culture of brewing. The traditions are rich. The people are kind. And the beer is good.