Monday, March 18, 2013

Beer is FUN!

This weekend a lot of fun stuff happened - The Zags were made a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament (this is really big); the first "Classics" bike race of the season was held - Milan-San Remo (which was shortened in a way I have not seen in 25 years of watching bike racing, with a motorized transport in the middle of the race to avoid a snow-covered climb/descent); the F1 season started with a great race in Australia (the Iceman Cometh, but not in the depressing O'Neill way, in the nickname-of-one-of-the-racers who won way); and St. Patrick's Day was celebrated with wide and rampant drunkiness and consumption of corned beef.

Also, if you are a normal human, some other stuff happened that was less fun, like chores.  My son stoically intoned to me on Sunday, "Doing laundry is my favorite thing in the world, Dad."  I said, in response, something like, "Not everything we do is about having fun.  Some stuff just needs to be done."  A typical Dad-ism which has a silent monologue accompaniment of thinking, "Yeah, I hate doing laundry too." 

It did, however, make me think about a comment made to me last week, which was basically along the lines of, "I wish I owned a brewery and didn't have to work for a living."  This well-intentioned person appeared to be otherwise sane, but he didn't realize that those were two completely separate desires - owning a brewery AND not having to work for a living.  It is funny how many people say things like that, apparently thinking that owning or operating a brewery is really just about the same as sitting at a table drinking beer with your friends.  I mean, it's beer!  It must be nothing but fun, right?

This reminds me of something I heard at a gathering of brewers recently, "In the beer business, the best thing is the beer and the worst thing is the business." 

When people actually stop and think about it, they realize that a brewery does involve work and chores and other stuff that no one "wants" to do, but if you do all of that stuff with a beer in your hand, then it must all be good, right?  No.  It doesn't actually work like that either.  I have known brewers who tend to do that too much and they don't tend to last.  The industry as whole has a high appreciation for beer, but a low toleration for abuse of it.  Just doesn't work to be professional in industry and not respect it.

If you ask most brewers what they spend their days doing, the answer I hear most is "cleaning."  Kettles, tanks, kegs, filters, even floors - everything needs to be sanitary to provide the right environment for making good beer.  And, if I'm not mistaken, that sounds more like work or chores than sitting at a table drinking beer. 

I do stop to remind myself in the midst of aggravation or annoyance with the business side of beer that this should be fun.  It is about beer and the underlying purpose is all about fun and flavor and enjoying life.  I am really pleased that our brewery provides jobs, uses local ingredients to make a local product and tries to do good.  Those are the best things about the beer business, but just like the laundry, the chores still have to be done.

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