February 15, 2012

Open Letter to our readers on Arizona Beer Week

Beer businesses are putting the final touches on their Arizona Beer Week events as we close in on the February 18 launch. Events have been live January 20th and things are really beginning to take shape.

From what I have heard and seen, this year's events will overshadow last year's inaugural offerings. There will be many guests and special beers. With just a week, many of these events are sure to conflict and everyone here will have to make some tough choices. In my mind there are three types of audiences that Beer Week traditionally caters to: The Beer Geek (for lack of a better word), the Casual Beer Drinker and those that are unfamiliar.

There is no doubt that an event with Doug Odell serving a one off beer is right in the wheel house of many of our readers, but on that same day there may be an Arizona tap takeover or an educational event or a dozen other events that will fall off your radar. Having a Sonoran tap on at a bar you would never set foot into may not be a big deal to you, but those events are far more important to the health of our nascent beer industry than any event that you and I attend. Those events need some love too and that is where I am calling upon you to take action.

You have a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker, a relative that falls into the other audience groups. It's your job as a leader in our beer community to get them more involved in the beer scene. Note that I say, "scene". The scene is the whole package and not just the beer in your glass. Your friends may not like the same beer you do, but the scene is the thing that we can all work on that improves all of our experiences.

There has been a good deal of discussion about criticism, snobbery, service, over-rating and pricing from the businesses that make up our beer community (many of whom lurk here). Here is where WE put our money where our mouths are Are we as a community, providing good service? Is our snobbery a help or hindrance? Is our worth as a group and beer clique over-rated? Would we stand up to the criticism if the breweries reviewed us? Is our the focus on the extreme and the rare money well spent?

Great beer, events and personalities will come and go, but the residents of the Valley will remain. We owe it to ourselves to use this week to build a greater beer scene and involve more of us in the community.

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