Saturday, December 14, 2013

Facebook Apocalypse

I have, at best, a Love/Hate relationship with Facebook.  There is so much drivel and ego to hate that it is almost overwhelming.  How people can be so self-absorbed as to think that the world needs to know of every meal, or every high-priced purchase, or every moment of their vacation is beyond me. Besides, does the world really need several hundred million more selfies? (And why can't girls clean up their rooms/bathroom counters if they are going to take several hundred pictures with reflections of these messy wastelands?  But I digress.)

On the other hand, there are, admittedly, many great stories floating around on Facebook.  Last week was a triumph of social media in the cycling world when Specialized realized they were traipsing on a lot of angry emotion by trying to enforce a trademark on one of the most storied words in bike racing - Roubaix - and one poor shop owner who dared to share it.  There are also many stories of kind deeds, heroic efforts, simple kindnesses and sometimes of heartbreak and loss that need to be shared.  I can forgive a lot of "Here I am sitting by the pool in Hotsy-totsy Land" posts when I run across one discussion of an illness that has struck a mutual friend and they need some love and support from their tribe.

On a similar vein, as part of a brewery (or any business actively trying to spread the word about a product or service), Facebook represents a huge, unavoidable, inarguable source of interaction and interest.  We have made a handful of great vendor connections, a bunch of fun bar/restaurant/pub connections and literally several hundred great customer connections.  When you look at any social media statistics, Facebook is the lumbering giant in the land.  Its total numbers dwarf the number of people actively participating in Twitter, Instagram or any other social media platform.  No matter how wonderful THESE words are on our blog, we have more people see ANY Facebook post than will see the blog on a given day.

So, that makes it all the more bothersome that Facebook has recently changed the algorithms that dictate what stories show up on your Facebook timeline.  They don't make this stuff clear, but it appears that businesses now have to pay Facebook to promote a post to get it show up in timelines, even when you have previously Liked a page and even if it would have showed up a week or two ago.

What's this mean?  First, I can't really begrudge Facebook.  They provide the platform free, right?  And after Zuckerberg got those first billions, you knew he would want a few more to keep them company, right?  So it's natural that they try to "monetize" the relationship and ask businesses to pay.  Newspapers and TV stations don't run free advertising for us, so we don't have a good case when Facebook does the same.  The problem, of course, is that instead of the interaction being more organic and "normal," the tendency quickly becomes that companies are more corporate and more manipulative because they have a budget and return expectation attached to each post AND it means that the big companies start to take over all of the interaction again.  The couple of behemoth beer companies can buy more advertising than every hand-crafted brewery combined, so their message carries the day and it gets harder for interested people to learn about the local companies making great beer in their communities.

My cynical side is resigned to this big-guy-wins process, but I do think we are turning a corner now that won't really be obvious for a few more years.  In the meantime, I would urge you to be thoughtful about interacting with the companies you care about so that they keep showing up on your timeline.  Make a click, Like a like, add a comment.  It takes an effort, but it will help you and your favorite locals fight back the tide of commercialism that will inevitably take over Facebook.

Me?  I'm going to have a Network moment or two and look for something to throw out a window (Kids, look it up) and then go back to looking at selfies.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Drink Local

If I say “Beer” to you, what do you think of? Maybe a 24-case of cheap beer in a cooler or maybe an advertising campaign inevitably featuring a fetching young thing promising that your life will be better if you drink his or her brand. But what if say “Drink Local” to you, or “Local Beer”? What do you think of then?

I hope you think about tasty glass of beer made by people who live in your community, but here are some other things you should think about – jobs, resources, community, and fun.

You see, the local part of Drink Local doesn’t just mean that the beer is made someplace you can get in the car and see. It also means that people who live in your community are getting paid to make the beer and put it in a keg or bottle. It also means that all of the people who provide other needed services to the brewery, from construction to refrigeration to bookkeeping to marketing to sales to whatever are also people who live in your community. That means the money you spend with a local brewery is not just going to them, but it gets multiplied many times as the brewery re-spends it on wages and services, but then all of the wages and services of those people and companies are in turn re-spent in your community.

The same thing is true of local restaurants.  Yes, it is true that all restaurants hire local people to serve your food, but the truth is that local restaurants do a LOT more to contribute to our communities with the same multiplier effect of ALL of the money being in our community instead of going back to the corporate coffers in Shitbucket, Texas or Officepark, Florida (it's a well-known fact that most chain restaurants are headquartered in one of these two places).

The bottom line is, actually, the bottom line.  Spend your money in our community and it will make our community more prosperous and, in turn, make you more prosperous.  To me, that just makes sense.  Who would think that raising a glass of local beer (or wine) at a local restaurant can actually make you and your community a better place, but it does.  And when that is the result of hoisting a glass of beer, that is good clean fun.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

You think you got skills?

As the temperature rises all the way up to the double digits, it's nice to think about being outside again someday and riding bikes.  It's also nice to think about just sitting on the saddle, actually pedaling a bike down the road - but just that.  I don't need to ride it backwards or across rock fields or do flips on my bike, but some people do and those people are freakishly amazing.  Take a look.

Oh sure, that looks like a weird combination of crazy and dangerous and cool. It also looks ALMOST like something you could do, right? Not really, but you can see how if you devoted some time to it you could get to the point you could do it. That would be in contrast to the next video which is astonishingly amazingly bat-shit crazy. Also, keep in mind how mild the first video is in comparison to the 3.44 mark in the second video - kinda same trick x 1,000.

Mind blown.

UPDATE: One of the guys on the River City Red Cycling Team (SJ) asked whether it was true that Martyn Ashton was now paralyzed.  Another (TC) responded that it was true.  I hadn't heard anything about it and found this story:   It is fair to say that the riding in the video is amazing, but it is clearly very, very dangerous.  A couple of times I was marveling at the danger, since it was clear that they were working with no safety equipment, no padding, no "outs", etc., but I am sad to hear that one of the riders has paid for these stunts with his lifelong mobility. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

WE ARE TWITTER FAMOUS! What? Oh. No we aren't.

So, funny story.  A couple of days ago I started following @will_ferrell on Twitter after someone else re-tweeted a few funny things from that account.  I randomly picked up my phone Sunday afternoon to see a tweet from "him" saying that twitter required him to follow at least 7 people so "he" would randomly be doing that, and then "he" said "he" would follow someone additional that also followed @depressedsanta.  Thinking something along the lines of "nothing ventured, nothing gained," I followed both and then proceeded to make a couple of smart-ass comments to "Will Ferrell."  Lo and behold, our account was rewarded a few minutes later with a follow from @will_ferrell!  Some moments of elation and entertainment followed as my household contemplated what it meant to have Will Ferrell's attention for a few minutes.  For instance, I was assuming he would want to stay in our guest bedroom over the holidays to get to know us and drink lots of free beer.

Well, after a few more twitter hi-jinks, along with texting several people that Will Ferrell was following us (and posting on Facebook that he was ) a total buzzkill (but accurate) tweet came through saying that it was relatively confirmed that the actual person Will Ferrell did not have an authorized account.  In my exuberance I thought that the follow was from a verified account, but upon sober reflection, it was not.  

So, where does that leave us?  Slightly embarrassed that we didn't use a thoughtful approach to understand that it was not actually Will Ferrell tweeting at that account.  On the other hand, it also leaves us one of only 8 followed accounts from @Will_Ferrell who does have many funny tweets and nearly 113,000 followers.  That means that a few more folks may see our account and a few may follow us or be inspired to drink local.  It also means that it much less likely that Ron Burgundy will be stopping by the Tap Room (not impossible, but unlikely).

Thank you for your attention, support and love at this time.  We will let you know if Will Ferrell or any Will Ferrell imposters show up on our doorstep and we will be more careful about trumpeting future famous follows.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tap Room - Tap Room - Tap Room - Tap Room

121 S. Cedar St / Carnegie Square

Come on in.  There's a seat and a pint waiting.
Getting the Tap Room open has been a huge job, relatively speaking.  Sure, not huge like the Hoover Dam or a government health care website, but still huge.  Okay, not huge.  But big.  Can we agree on big?  Nonetheless, it's been time-consuming.  Maybe all consuming for a period of time.  But now, the doors are open, the beer is flowing and all is good with the world.

The Tap Room is located at 121 S. Cedar Street in the Carnegie Square neighborhood.  We are in the same building as the Rocket Bakery and across the street from Andy's.  We are open Thursday to Saturday, 3 - 9 pm and Sunday to Wednesday, 3 - 8 pm.  We serve pints, half-pints and tasters, along with a pint of pretzels if you need a nosh.  We have draft root beer in the works and kids are welcome.  We also sell and fill growlers and have 1/6 barrel and 1/2 barrel kegs to go for all your party needs.  Give us a call at our new phone number - 509-413-2388 - for details on kegs out the door or anything else you need to know.

We will look forward to seeing you at the Tap Room.
9 Beers on Tap Today / Draft Root Beer added soon.

We even added tables for your sitting needs.

A bit of wit or whimsy with your pint?  Got ya' covered.

Oh look, my camera will take a useless panorama shot!