by Dante Fletcher
This article was sent to us by one of our customers and we wanted to share it with you. The home brewing community means a lot to us and we think you agree it’s one that promotes sharing, belonging and inclusion across the globe. When times try to divide us, read how a shared glass of homebrew can unite us! ~MoreBeer!
I was hesitant to use the word community when I first started writing this because it’s a word that gets thrown around a lot and seems to have a different definition to each person using it.
According to McMillan & Chavis (1986) - Sense of community: A definition and theory.
The four elements that are needed to create a "sense of community" are -
All these elements, to me, described what the brewing community had to offer when I first got involved almost ten year ago.
But unfortunately, I’ve found out through numerous articles, podcasts, and various discussion groups that there are sizable groups of people that are not experiencing our community in the same light as my friends and myself.
I know that the community is working hard, on large scale initiatives, that will push for changes and hold accountable those whose actions are not acceptable. But while I’m excited to see this happen, I think we must remind ourselves that this will be a slow process. But I was thinking, all the weight of this should not be carried only by those on the commercial side of the industry but should be shared by us, the individuals, that help make up this community.
I never really thought about myself as being able to do anything to help build the community other than inviting the occasional co-worker over for a group brew day. Or maybe provide a keg or two for a charity event. That was until recently when by chance, I became one of the “fortunate” people that had the ability to “work from home” during a COVID spike that ran through my community.
During that time, I will be honest I was doing my best to focus on Zoom meetings and emails, but I heard my brew kettle calling and I answered the call on a sunny Thursday afternoon.
I figured I didn’t want to get to involved with set up and break down, so I went with a Brew In A Bag (BIAB) set up. I thought an English Mild would fit the bill perfectly. A solid base of Maris Otter and some Crystal 60l to bring in some color and with a bit of East Kent Goldings hops for some floral, spice and earthy notes easy recipe for sure.
After eight days I was ready to keg and while mid transfer I realized that since moving into my new neighborhood, I hadn’t really had much time to share my beer with the neighbors, but that was going to change quickly.
A couple of days later, I strolled out to my mailbox mid-morning and I saw Jack, across the street as he was in half through a lawn mowing session, and I asked him if I could pass a growler his way. To my surprise he said he didn’t know what a growler was, but with a little explanation he was soon a very appreciative neighbor as I passed along a freshly filled growler of English Mild fresh from the tap.
I believe that my gift was well received, because it didn’t take long for word to travel around the cul-de-sac.
By that afternoon, my neighbor on my north side caught my attention with a wave and a smile as I was walking, with pint in hand, back from my mailbox. He said that he had heard that there might be some beer to taste. He and his partner weren’t usually beer drinkers, but if I was just looking for feedback …again, I was happy to spread the cheer.
Within an afternoon I had met two more of my neighbors and as we worked our way through a pint or two with each I did my best to handle the Q&A sessions about the hobby and what I thought about Ciders, Seltzers and the like.
I didn’t know it, but I had become an ambassador for the community that I was worried was headed into a dark place. I felt a renewed energy from my interactions and a couple of days later there was a knock at my front door. It was Jack’s wife, empty growler in hand. She said the line that I never get tired of hearing, “I’m not really a beer drinker, but…. that was delicious…” We chatted for a bit and she said that she was more of a fan of Ciders. I asked if she ever thought about making a batch of her own. She said, “it’s going to be too hard and I don’t have any equipment and I don’t….” I’ve heard it before, and I knew how to help on this one. I said, I have some extra equipment, a few books and I would be happy walk her through the process if she ever felt like trying it out. So, guess who’s got her first batch of Cider in the fermenter and guess who was lucky enough to bring another person into the hobby.
As the restriction in my community lessen, I have been lucky to visit some of my favorite tap rooms again. I’m cautious with my advice, but I try to make those that seem a bit lost as they step into our world a little more welcome. Whether it’s helping with a selection or pointing them to a knowledgeable bartender, I’ve found that it isn’t big things that needs to be done, it’s the small gestures that seem to have the most impact.
I’ve been asking myself and my friends, why not try to push ourselves to be a little more welcoming to those who are dipping into the “craft beer” world for the first time. Whether it’s someone that seems to be a little unsure about the spaces that we gather or members of an underrepresented demographic in our ranks or those feeling “out of place” as they hesitantly enter a brew pub or brew supply shop for the first time. Why not go just a little bit further to make the new initiates feel welcome to the community that has so much to offer. I’m sure there is plenty of room for both you and I.
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