Friday, December 2, 2011

Paying it forward

An open letter to craft brewers, importers, wholesalers, beer bar owners, beer store owners, and the other great people in the craft beer industry (and yes, you drinkers, too!).

I’ve been excited about beer for over 30 years, since I took my first sip of German pilsner in 1981. It opened my eyes to what beer could be, and eventually opened my life to a new career: writing the romance and beauty of beer to help bring that eye-opening moment to others. I’ve hosted, and taught, and spoken about beer to similarly excited people in bars, to dining rooms and halls full of people, and to radio and television audiences. I do it for a living, but as you probably know — and can empathize — it’s not a great living. It is a wonderful job, though, a calling, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other.

Over that time, I’ve talked to many of you, from the early days when people like Steve Hindy, F.X. Matt, David Geary, Carol Stoudt, Gary Fish, and Dick Yuengling took the time to answer my questions, through the exciting times when guys like Rob Todd, Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet, Sam Calagione, Tomme Arthur, Greg Hall, and Hugh Sisson talked to me what they were building. Then came the books, and I traveled all over Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland — thousands of miles and hundreds of four ounce samples — visiting every brewery in those states.

I took pictures, I blogged, I tweeted, and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I loved what I saw, the people I met, and the beers I drank. I was part of it, helping spread the word, because that was what we did, from the start: when you found a place that had great beer, when you tasted a beer that stopped you in your tracks, when you met someone who turned you on to new beers…you shared it, you paid it forward. Someone told you about something great, so when you found something, you passed it on

For almost 20 years, I have tried to spread the word, to educate, and to even-handedly present the great stories all of you have to tell. Now I have a chance to amplify that word. Green Leaf Productions contacted me about hosting a television show they call “American Beer Blogger.” I agreed to take a swing at it, and we did some taping at Stoudt’s earlier this year that they used to make a short promotional video. You can see it here on the Web.

As you can see, that’s a Kickstarter page. Green Leaf is trying to raise $60,000 to shoot and edit six episodes, and then sell the series to a cable channel. Without that money, the show probably won’t go forward, and that would be a loss, because this show is going to be the real thing. It's going to be me, calling a brewer, or bar owner, or beer store owner/manager, and setting up a visit — just like I’ve done with many of you — going there and looking around and asking questions and tasting some beers and having some fun. The only thing I may do differently is some of the stuff they had me doing in the teaser: actually working, if only for a little bit, because that's fun, and it's something I'd like to do anyway. But we'll talk beer, we'll get our facts straight, and it won't be boring.

If I’ve helped the business, your business, in any way in the past, you know I couldn’t take money for that. I had to stay separate, stay independent, and that’s for the best. But if you’d like to help your business by having this show on the air, talking about beer in a fun, real way, here’s your chance. I still can’t take your money — it goes to Green Leaf, I’m just working for them — but if you sponsor the show, we can all do what we do best: better the image and recognition of good craft beer. A pledge of only $1,000 gets you an Associate Producer credit on the show, and there are other rewards for larger pledges. 

Maybe best of all, you’ll be paying it forward. I wrote about the industry — because I loved it, and found it fascinating, and still do — and this will give me a chance to tell more stories to lots more people. More people who will maybe get excited about beer, and turn into proselytizers of the word of craft beer. Give me this chance to spread the word even further! 

Thanks. It’s been a great ride, and it’s just getting better.

Lew Bryson


Anonymous said...

What do you mean it is not a great living? You get paid to drink and write about beer!! What is NOT great about that! It is a dream job.

Lew Bryson said...

Great job, and as I said, I wouldn't trade it, especially given the great people I get to work with; could be better on the pay, is all I'm saying.

Lew Bryson said...

There have been a couple...pointed comments about why I'm asking for money, and not re-mortgaging my house, or -- as one person suggested -- getting a camera and vlogging on YouTube. Quick answer: it's not me that's getting the money, it's Green Leaf. It's their project, I'm just hired help. I am investing in the project; this is separate from that. That said, sure, I'm asking friends and colleagues and brewers to jump in on Green Leaf's project. I'd love to see it succeed. And if I were better at camerawork, maybe I would vlog...but believe me: what Green Leaf does looks much better! Okay? Cheers, and thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey Pumpkin head good luck on your new venture.Saw your quote in Bloomberg Business Dec 5th issue.I will have what she is having.New Belgium CEO Kim Jordon takes her microbrew national to parry Big Beer.Quote Bud Light put my kids though college.. Lots of Luck

Anonymous said...

Is there a way the kickstarter contribution can be made anonymously?

Lew Bryson said...

From the Kickstarter FAQ:
We don't currently have an anonymous pledge feature. You are free to choose any username you wish, though, so you could anonymize that way if you would like. Otherwise, we hope you're okay with showing your name and support.

So, no, you can't, but this looks like the next best thing. No one would get your actual information except Kickstarter.

Anonymous said...

Why would you be against Vlogging on YouTube? It would put you on the map and give you a world wide audience.

Lew Bryson said...

Not against it; just not for me.

Anonymous said...

Do you know these guys?

Lew Bryson said...

Nope. Seen one episode.