The Greatest Menorah Story Ever Told (and my small role in it)

My Menorah - Mazel

My Menorah – Mazel

As you light your menorah for the final nights of this year’s Festival of Lights, I want you to think of Rudy and his moose menorah. Even if you don’t spin the dreidel, this story is for you if you believe in determination, perseverance, never giving up and the creation of an heirloom that’ll be passed down for generations.

I’ve never met Rudy. He’s some guy on the Internet. A college kid (I think) in Pennsylvania (I think). You’re going to hear his story in a minute but first you need to understand what a small world it is and how this almost didn’t happen, my role at least.

When Rudy reached out to me I probably would have told the kid “no thanks” and nothing more. However I happened to glance through some of his recent tweets and recognized a handle of a guy who is a loyal reader of my other site. Apparently they are good friends. This other guy had no idea that Rudy was reaching out to me and Rudy had no idea I knew his friend. Small freaking world. I told Rudy I’d help him however I could instead of the “no thanks” he would have otherwise gotten since I saw that they’re friends.

If it wasn’t for seeing that he’s buddies with one of my readers than maybe this whole story for Rudy could have turned out differently.

I turn it over to Rudy:

My friends – As we head out to celebrate the holidays with family and friends I want to remind you that anything is possible. I’m shocked and honored every time someone reads this blog. You are a constant reminder to me that anything is possible. Thank you for that. I hope you have Happy Holidays, lots of laughs and more than your fair share of good beer.

Cheers.

TWIB: Unexpected Encounters in Line for the Men’s Room

This Week in Beer (TWIB) is a feature where I’ll highlight some craft beers I had during this past week mixed with some related (and unrelated) thoughts. Yes, it’s a play on the name of the show This Week in Baseball which I grew up on and loved.

I’m ignoring the Super Bowl. My dog is named Peyton. Needless-to-say, yesterday was far from fun save the teasers for 24. Saturday on the other hand had one of the biggest, most surprising unexpected encounters of my life. Imagine the movie Crash taking place in line for a men’s room at a brewery.

Halfway to Philly

My wife and I have some friends in Philadelphia. Philly is 3-3.5 hours away from where we live so we have a hard time seeing them a lot. One of the ladies had the brilliant idea to meet halfway – Baltimore. It’s about a 2-hour drive for them and 1.5 for us. Perfect!

After making our way through some questionable downtown areas we turn up at one of our favorite spots – Woodberry Kitchen. Woodberry Kitchen is where I first heard of Union Craft Brewing last year. With a solid brunch consisting of Buttermilk Fried Pork Skirt and a Sly Fox Pale Ale in me we walked over to Union Craft Brewing which is less than a hundred yards away.

Union Craft Brewing

We get to Union Craft and it is packed. I’m able to sneak close enough to the bar to grab four beers for our group. Their Rye IPA is out-of-this-world good. Even better than their Duckpin Pale Ale.

My day would have been complete right then. I could have packed up, gone home and been content writing a post highlighting Woodberry Kitchen’s food and Union Craft’s beers. But that’s probably not why you clicked on the headline and there’s a much cooler twist fate brought to this day.

Fate

Conversations with Beer Bloggers is changing my life in ways never imaginable. I’ve only had seven published episodes and it’s already lead me to two different in-person meetups where I’ve had the time of my life (event #1, event #2).

The eighth episode of CBB has already been recorded and is waiting for me to find a free afternoon to edit. This is with Jake Scholan of Hipsterbrewfus.com. Before recording our episode I knew nothing of what Jake looked like except his Twitter icon of him drinking a beer that covers most of his face. Zero knowledge. So last week we had our interview over Google Hangouts, which I can’t wait to share with you guys, and I finally got to see and meet him. We hit it off and even talked about trying to get together for a beer at some point since he’s relatively local.

Cue fate.

Continue reading

Why a Brewery Needs an Online Video Presence

I have a problem.

I have a specialized skill and a hobby that hasn’t quite embraced what that skill can do for them.

I’m here to find a solution and to be the solution to this problem: Why is there a lack of online video presence in the craft beer world?

Maybe I’m missing something but I do not see the craft beer industry embracing video as an effective medium yet.

Why should they?

It’s the natural progression of mediums over the last 150 or so years. Look at the broad trends:

  • News: Newspaper → Radio → TV → Online → Online Video
  • Entertainment: Live (i.e. plays, sports) → Movies → TV → Online Video (i.e. Streaming Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Podcasts)
  • Business Representation: Word of Mouth → Print Ads → TV Ads → Website → Social Media
  • Social Media: Email → Instant Messanger (I really miss AIM) → Myspace → Facebook → Twitter → Pinterest → Instagram → Video-type Instagram not yet created

A number of these “social media by video” sites have failed but it was because the time wasn’t right. Today video is so accessible and easily created with high-speed Internet and cell phones with amazing cameras. Also digital space is so cheap these days that it’s easy to store your video content locally and online. My guess? Vine is going to be the next big thing.

So let’s sum up my argument right now: The time to start an online video presence is now. You can get in on it, early and easily. And I can help.

How can a brewery start an online video presence?

I’m going to focus on how a brewery (or in fact any bar, blogger or business) can better represent themselves through online video.

To be a brewery today you absolutely must have a website and social media presence. Side note: I believe that Facebook is dead. To me it is a giant billboard for companies and your target market is whizzing right by you. This is a space for you to showoff your brand but is meant for the uneducated buyer — the Macro beer drinker. I strongly believe that a craft beer drinker has the social IQ to see through and tune out companies on Facebook simply because they’ve already passed the first test and not fell for or has already broken out of the Macro brewery advertising spell.

If you look at the trends and your target market, which is people that are seeking out what you have to say, right now is the time to add video to your website and use your social media program to share it.

Why Video?

Video is easy to consume. Is it easier to read a 1,000 word article or watch a 1 minute news story on TV or online? Would you rather read a Q&A in a magazine with a brewer or see and hear that brewer talk and you can better understand his/her passion and points.

How does a brewery get started?

  1. Start a YouTube page. Do this immediately. YouTube makes it extremely simple to embed a video onto your site (especially a WordPress site) and to share it to your social media outlets. Check out Boulevard Brewing Company’s YouTube page for a great example.
  2. Grab and iPhone or pick up a $300 camera at Best Buy and give it to the youngest person at your brewery. iMovie is free on Mac computers and there are other free editing applications for Windows computers. Go out and shoot something, anything.
  3. Publish it to your YouTube page and embed the video on your site and share it on your social media accounts.
  4. Repeat. Do this over and over again until you find what your brewery likes to talk about.
  5. Go pro (hey, that’s where I fit in!). Find a local videographer and editor to shoot and edit your video content. It can be as inexpensive as a free college kid looking for demo reel work or a freelance professional that’ll run $150+ an hour.
  6. Watch your brand grow and expand.

What should your video content be?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Get to know your staff — people enjoy drinking beer from people they like and can relate to
  2. Show how a certain beer is made — get as simple or complex as you want to get but remember most people tune out online videos after 2-3 minutes
  3. Updates and upgrades — have someone from your staff talk about what’s on tap this month and/or if there’s been any upgrades to your facility (new tanks, expanded hours, etc.)
  4. Teach them something — show them that you know what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to go really niche here (i.e. yeast strains, boiling temperatures, hop variations etc.). The people watching your videos will be into this kind of stuff.
  5. Highlight events — record your events and ask people to submit their own pictures/videos. Make sure to credit them and this’ll make sure to give them reason to share your video with all their Macro-drinking friends. Do you do this event annually? Re-package and distribute it again just before next year’s event so people will make sure they won’t want to miss it.

Sales pitch

What kind of businessperson would I be if I didn’t try to sell my services here? Contact me if you’re even remotely interested in what I’ve said above. I’d love to talk about your online video presence and how to improve it. I’m near DC but can surely consult remotely if you’re not close by.

Summary

  1. If you look at the trends, an online video presence is the next step for a company
  2. It’s simple to start up your video program
  3. There are a number of topics you can cover
  4. I’m here to help

Breweries, this is something you need to do to set yourself a part from the rest. Get in early. Readers, please leave a comment or contact me privately with your thoughts and ideas on this topic. Happy shooting and editing. Cheers!

How to find friendly people

I’ve been blogging for about a month, emailing people in the craft beer industry, having twitter conversations with other bloggers, etc. and I’ve come to a realization…people in this industry are friendlier.

Why is that? Well first, they’re all probably three or more beers in when I start talking to them. That helps a lot. But second, and more important, I think they’ve figured it out. They’re doing something they enjoy whether it’s for money or fun. That sense of fulfillment they receive from this is something I’ve been missing before starting my journey. Since starting though and changing a couple other lifestyle habits, I’ve felt much more satisfied at the end of the day. This is something I plan on growing on. Continue reading