In my perusal of news stories this morning looking for my One Article, I ran across two things that changed my focus.
One was from Bomani Jones in a series of Tweets about how the news publishing world has changed from the base being the publication to the article to the kernels of information. Here is the end of the Tweet that caught my attention, “…and i think we could objectively say plenty of valuable stuff loses to bullsh_t.” As craft beer fans or just as beer fans in general, we know this is true and we will say that play out as the next couple of years.
The second thing, the one article for the day, is this from one of my favorite websites, brainpickings.com.
In this space, I have often made the point that brewing is a creative endeavor. Besides the beer, one thing that I love about craft beer is how that creativity bumps up against the business of craft beer. This summary of physicist David Bohm’s essay On Creativity, captured my attention today as I tried to stay away from legislatures and the alcohol wholesaler lobby.
My favorite part of his summary is Bohm’s description of how a child learns to walk. I requote it here, “trying something out and seeing what happens, then modifying what he does (or thinks) in accordance with what has actually happened.”
In a perfect world, that is how brewers would approach each new beer they create. I love the creativity of craft beer while grudgingly accepting the business of craft beer. Again, the fun thing is how the inclination to create runs into the need to move product.
As a brewer, you have to understand your customers also want familiarity because it grounds them and orients them. If you create a beer and your customers love it to the point that you barely can keep up with demand, as a business you must keep making it. It almost doesn’t matter if you like the beer or even if you viewed as a step towards the creative “oneness” Bohm wrote about. You keep making it to keep paying rent.
I’ve noticed when people come into the bar and taste beers before they pick one, it seems to me they are looking for the right answer when they aren’t even taking a test. Bohm was right that as we grow older we become afraid to make mistakes and lose that sense and pure joy in discovery that toddlers have.
The bigger the brewery the greater the fear and consequences of making mistakes. That is one area the smaller breweries have an advantage over the bigger brewers. Smaller brewers can afford to be constantly creative and feed the craft beer’s public insatiable search for the next big new thing. If something doesn’t work, they change course quickly. However, just as important is knowing what you are and making those creative choices within a consistent framework and plan.
That is why the brewers I like and respect most are ones who combine that creativity with a good business plan and have a strong sense of who they are, what they are, and where they want to go.