Monday, July 16, 2012

"The Purpose of Beer is People"

- Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery


That seems to be the takeaway quote from Garrett Oliver's keynote speech last night at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Indianapolis. I would estimate it was tweeted by dozens of bloggers in attendance. It really seemed to hit home for quite a few folks.

I wholeheartedly share that sentiment. Craft brewers in almost all cases, seem to be putting the people before profits. It's rare to find that in any industry. Craft brewers are answering the call of a growing set of people who are looking for more from a beer. They seem to truly be putting the customer first.

And then there are the industry considerations. In an industry with large conglomerates having a near strangle-hold on business, craft beer is actually changing the industry and gaining ground. It's a true David vs. Goliath story. The large conglomerates are actually having to flex a bit to cope with the changes brought on by the craft beer industry. It has put an end to one of my strongest pet peeves about work- the excuse that is "that's the way we've always done it."

The other industry consideration is that in the worst economic downturn in decades craft beer is a growth industry that is putting a good amount of people to work.

But there is more to craft beer than what people want to drink and what it is doing for the larger beer industry. Step back and look at what craft beer is accomplishing.


It's simple enough. The systems we all grow up within in large part tell you to put aside your dreams. Why do you think it is always such an attention getter when a young star rises to the surface of our social conscience? So few of us buck the system to make our dreams a reality.

Craft beer is full of dreamers. The only ones who can start a dream are the people behind the industry. What do you dream of accomplishing for yourself or your industry?


Now obviously it's rather easy to be passionate about a delicious beverage that makes you feel good. But it is not so easy to decide to go hundreds of thousands to possibly millions of dollars in debt to pursue a dream…a dream based upon the product before the profit. A dream that will require a significant amount of personal self sacrifice by those who choose to pursue it. More and more people everyday are tapping that passion and sacrificing nearly everything for it. This is what you are willing to do when you are acting on a passion.

It's the pursuit of a passion that is creating success for so many of them. Here's why. When you are pursuing something rooted in passion, when the rough patches hit all that is left to pull you through is passion. Sure, sometimes it can be luck or a conditional reward that buys you some time but lessons learned through passion will teach you more about yourself for the long haul.

Too many people are wasting our professional careers not feeling passionate about what we are doing for the majority of the day. Craft beer can be the muse for finding your passion.


When you are basing decisions upon intrinsic motivations (motivation from within…not money or grades) you are feeding yourself. Even the slightest attainment of intrinsic motivation provides fuel to keep going. You are more likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If all of your reward is based upon conditional motivation (external…money…grades…awards) and you don't achieve it, it pretty much takes all of the wind out of your sails. You adopt a perspective of blame. It is much harder to bounce back.

I think we see a lot of intrinsic motivation in craft beer. I think many brewers are using craft beer to express who they are as a person. The reward for them is delivering that very personal product to the marketplace, regardless of what the market thinks about it. Obviously, they do care about satisfying the taste preferences for a majority but brewers are definitely tapping into some intrinsic motivations.

People need to find their intrinsic motivators for more meaningful and longer lasting fulfillment. What do you value most in experiences? Craft beer can be your muse.


But here's the other great thing. There is nearly a total lack of judgment about what the fellow craft brewer is doing to his or her beer. It seems all experimentation with additives and one-off creations of styles is welcomed as a interesting challenge and a chance to expand the realm of craft beer.

There are even what would seem to be rival no-gos that are ignored in the interest of collaboration. These collaborations seem almost like a cause completely based in furthering craft beer as a common movement...individual business and interests be damned.

If there is one thought process that does more damage to fair and equal treatment of your fellow man or woman, it is judgment. If an industry can do it, then individuals can drop their guard, ignore labels, and maintain an open mind toward the interest of collective progress. Stop making assumptions.


Garrett Oliver is right. A large profit-driven industry can prioritize being about the people within it and the customers it serves.

As a life skills coach with a passion for craft beer I have seen how craft beer can be the muse for leading people to more satisfying and fulfilled lives. Not only is it a model for what other industries could aspire to become but what craft beer is doing can be extrapolated down to stories and guidance about a more ideal human condition for individuals.

That human condition requires a dream, some passion, intrinsic motivation, a lack of judgmental thinking, and a heaping serving of self sacrifice to bring it all home.

Follow along as I capture some of the human spirit behind craft beer through life skills-based interviews with craft beer personalities.

1 comment:

  1. Just realized I could search the phrase on Twitter, Officially it was just about a dozen Tweets…but I am sure all of those who tweeted it repeated it to themselves while sleeping too so that has to count for something right?