Our first Juicy Brews took place in Pittsburgh at the beginning of October. Along with the rest of the craft beer drinking public, we’d watched the rise and fall of the big box beer festival. Long lines, silly vendors, bad beers. That worked for some, but we wanted a different experience.
Juicy Brews Pittsburgh was a huge success, but it was just the beginning. So we planned again. This time, we went to NYC. Again, we reached out to our favorite brewers. We designed tekus. We rented the best events space we could find. We added couches and a DJ whose name is spelled in all caps and without vowels. We decorated. We tried to take the next step toward wherever this was ultimately going.
Where exactly that is, is up for debate. A quick Google search will present you with articles dating from 2015, 2016, and as recently as this year that foretell a bursting of the craft beer bubble completely. Others sidestep talk of bursting and instead decry the bubble itself. Just last month, a national beer writer commented that the explosive growth of, and fanboy focus on, hazy IPAs is the “the death of creativity, the stifling of craft brewing’s spirit.”
We don’t see that happening. What naysayers get wrong is that they underestimate what happens at the Juicy Brews, and at craft breweries across the nation: collaboration.
Do you know how much beer the brewers that come to Juicy Brews sold last year? All of it. They can’t make enough beer to satisfy the demand. And instead of putting up walls and working to increase output and lower cost, they regularly work together and create one-off drops of beer that’ll never be sold anywhere but at their taproom. It’s the Supreme way of doing things. It’s got that intangible feeling of immediacy, that whatever it is is only happening here, and it’s only happening now. This doesn’t show up on a spreadsheet.
This is what the big guys can’t replicate. And this is why craft beer culture isn’t going anywhere. It’ll change, sure, but that’ll be to move forward and grow up.
Craft beer is dominated by individuals who are largely first generation brewers. Some of them were chefs. Some of them came from finance. Some went to MIT. More than you’d probably imagine have an English degree crammed in a filing cabinet somewhere. They didn’t come into craft beer with a decades-old way of doing things.
If we know anything from history, and from looking around in the age of information, it’s that our current structure will become old, and that new problems need new solutions.
Craft beer can’t beat out AB-InBev for a few more taplines at XYZ Sports Pub, but it doesn’t have to. We can play our own game. And when enough people see that it’s worth the price of admission to check out what a few dozen of the best breweries are up to, to indulge for a day in 9% ABV beer that has more calories than a donut, then we can lodge craft brewing into the conscious of America.
Forget cold activated cans. We’re here, and we’re not going anywhere.
See you in 2018:
February: Juicy Brews, Columbus, Ohio
March: Farmhouse to Table, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
March: Juicy Brews, Tucson, Arizona
March: Hotel Party, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
April: WestFest, Oakland, California
June: Juicy Brews Invitational, Richmond, Virginia
August: Beers With(out) Beards, New York, New York
September: Hop Culture and Dancing Gnome Present: The Anniversary Party, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
October: Spooky Brews, Boston, Massachusetts
December: Juicy Brews Winter Invitational, Brooklyn, New York
Stay strong, stay true, stay fresh, stay fly,
Kenny Gould & Travis Smith
Founders, Hop Culture