Monday, June 17, 2013
Craft Beer Cannot Be Sent Through the Internet
The internet offers us many things that have improved our lives infinitely: online shopping, adult entertainment, blogging, a place to anonymously express outrageous and inflammatory opinions with little fear of reprisal. There's practically nothing we can't do with our computer/iPad/smart phone. Though you can send and/or download everything from the latest High on Fire live albums to video of Geoff Tate being an asshole on stage (again) to photos of that killer bowl of pho you ate at that restaurant that everyone was raving about on Yelp, you cannot digitize a beer and transfer it from Point A to Point B.
Honestly, it would have made writing The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers a lot easier if I could have done that. But what I found out when approaching dozens of brewers about including their beers in the book, that there is a supportive grassroots vibe not unlike the early days of metal (the early '80s), when indie labels supported their artists by sending their product to the many fanzines that sprung up around the world.
It's expensive to send beer via the various conventional methods (UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc.), especially from Europe to the U.S., but the brewers I dealt with saw the inherent value of having their beer in a book that will (hopefully) sell a lot of copies to the people who will be most receptive to buying their product. There was a whole hell of a lot of good faith put in what I was doing on their part, and I can't thank them enough for that.
Very few brewers flat out said no (though one high-profile brewery did so in the kindest way possible). Some didn't respond to my email requests, a couple said they'd send beer but didn't. Mostly though, I was impressed by how they were not only willing to participate in my book, but were genuinely excited about it.
So they graciously sent me their beer and in return I'll send them a copy of the book when it's published in November. I like the fact that even though my initial solicitations were all conducted via email, the beer—this amazing, live product the brewers proudly created—had to arrive the old-fashioned way. I should have kept a photo log of how some of these things were packed. A few were truly comical and I was astounded that the beer arrived intact at all. It occurred to me over and over that—based on the packing jobs—a lot of these breweries must never send out samples. Which made me appreciate what they sent all the more.