Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Shared interests + behavior = Community: The 99% rule in the Craft Beer Community.

What makes up a community?  According to dictionary definitions, it is a social group.  Many of the factors that tie this social group together are location or common heritage.  It can also be a group of people or nations sharing a common interest.  And online interest community is typically comprised of people with a shared interest (knitting, reading, eating, cooking, gardening, etc...).  These communities not only have a shared interest, but they usually have shared behaviors (engaging in behaviors as well as how they interact).   Being an active member of over 20 different clubs and communities over the last few years, each community has it's own culture and social rules.

I've been in the craft beer community for almost two years now, and I have to say that it is a pretty awesome group.  While there are different types of beer drinkers, I'm referring to the passionate group of beer evangelists who know and love craft beer (denoted in the blue and purple circles).  These people might write blogs, organize local beer events, work in a craft brewery or craft beer organization, or participate heavily in homebrew activities.  The shared interest is the promotion of craft beer, and how they interact is extremely friendly.

This core group of craft beer enthusiasts are extremely dedicated to producing quality beer (commercially or at home), share the same philosophy, and are really nice.  No, really.  They are really cool, chill, friendly, and awesome.  You might think that it is just a front, but it is not.  Even in a heavily drunken state, craft beer enthusiasts are really, really nice. At the Great American Beer Festival Media lunch in 2010, Paul Philippon of Duck Rabbit (and I quote) said "the national brewing community is a$$hole-free."  The general rule for this group (denoted by the purple and blue circles) is the 99% rule.  99% of craft beer enthusiasts are really awesome, and only 1% is a total !#%%#$!er.  It wasn't until recently that I met someone in that 1% that I got to thinking more about defining community. 

It started about two weeks ago when I was looking for a graphic designer to do some work for my new project, Thirsty Bird Threads.  Graphic designer, we'll call him Mr. 1% for now, contacted me with the slant that he was heavily involved in the beer community.  He claimed to be friends with brewers at a Texas brewery, a home brewer, had beer brands as past clients, and 18 years of experience. He also offered me a very low rate of $125 per logo as he was hungry for some referrals and work.  I took Mr. 1% up on that offer because of his past work experience and to support another fellow craft beer lover.  Turned out Mr. 1% probably deserves an ejection from the craft beer community.  Among many of the offenses he committed, these are just a few.
  • He said "women were too stupid to know what tulip glasses [are], and the only people who would know are 50 year old male beer drinkers."  He didn't know what a tulip glass was either.  This comment was beyond offensive.  Women are gaining ground in this male dominated industry.  Here's @lyonsgal's article citing women in the industry, and @snax, Beer Queen of Austin, has won medals for her homebrews.  Here's a very short list of some other women in beer: @beerfox, @thebeerwench, @girlslovebeer, @theartofbeer, @girlspintout, @miriyum, @hereforthebeer, and @carolfarrar.
  • Mr. 1% was stealing clip art off the internet and trying to pass them off to me as his own work.  He didn't even bother to change the stolen art besides changing the colors.  It isn't too difficult to catch someone stealing when he steals the first item in the Google Image Search.  He also mentioned that he applied for a job at Gowalla.  They might want kick that one to the curb. 
  • I indicated to him many times that I wanted something very distinctive yet simple, like Johnny Cupcake's logo.  He proceeded to use derogatory language regarding that brand.  Making rude remarks about a successful brand is truly telling of one's character.  
  • When I decided that Mr. 1% just isn't capable of producing anything original and his attitude just wasn't going to cut it, he practically threatened me.  He wrote to me in an email that he frequented craft beer watering holes like the Elephant Room and the Gingerman, and that I might run into him.  I wrote back that even if I did, I'd still be friendly. :o) That made him go off the deep end.  Also, craft beer drinkers don't go to the Elephant Room for beer.
Well, he surely stuck out as a 1%.  He wasn't just un-cool, he was a total #$#@%er.  This leaves several questions concerning community.

Women on the Great American Beer Festival Media Bus Tour. Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer on the left and Chelly Vitry on the right. Photo by John M. P. Knox.

Can you be a member of a community while only engaging in some activities? 

I do consider myself a member of the craft beer community, but I don't engage in all of the activities surrounding the craft beer community.  One of the more common activities is homebrewing.  @Windaddict does that already, so there's really no need for multiple batches of homebrew at the same time.  Mr.1% claims that he engages the activity of homebrewing, but whether or not he shares the same craft beer attitudes and philosophy is questionable.  I would tend to say that just engaging in activities isn't enough.  One must also have the shared attitude or philosophy.

Another example of my point of view would be in the dog fancier community.  If you don't already know, I show, train, and handle dogs.  The people who put forth hours and hours of work and thousands and thousands of dollars showing and sometimes breeding dogs are called fanciers in my book.  Other terms for them are breed enthusiasts or, generically, dog show people.  These are a very special breed, pun intended, of dog lovers as they are highly invested into improving their beloved breed in structure, health, type, and temperament.  These people make up about .01% of all dog owners.  One of the activities that they engage in is breeding to improve the breed.  Nope, there's no money in breeding a litter to improve a specific breed.  Dog fanciers are losing thousands of dollars. 

On the other hand, many people engage in the activity of purposely breeding dogs for other reasons.  Those other reasons might be due the desire to make money, to show kids what birth looks like, or because they don't see a reason for pet population control.  These people are NOT in the dog fancier community because they don't have the same philosophy of improving a breed's type, temperament, structure, and health. 

I could write a novel about the dog community, so I'll sum it up in a phrase commonly said in the dog fancier community.  If you make money breeding dogs, you're not doing it right.  If you're not interested in spending a large fortune improving a breed, you're better off getting a dog from rescue or the shelter. 

If someone's interactive behavior is completely out of line with the norm for the community, is that person even considered in the community? 

Can someone be such a !#%$^@$#@ that regardless of all his other behavior, he's a pariah? I suppose the answer is sometimes yes, and sometimes no.  Kayne West was a real jerk to Taylor Swift.  But I think he's still out there doing whatever, wait.... I'm going to let you finish writing, but...  Kayne West committed a fatal mistake in my opinion.  It isn't clear whether or not he is still in the inner circles of the music community, but he appears to be doing okay with his fans despite his stunt.  I'm not in the community so I can't say for sure. 

The sometimes yes part comes in when someone is so rude, abrasive, and hateful that no one wants to interact with that particular person.  While the person might still engaging in activities and share the common philosophy, being a jerk can get you ejected from a community.  If you show up to a party, and no one wants you there, you're probably not a member of the community. 

These were mostly theoretical questions, and as a commercial brand, Mr.1% might be considered part of the target audience.  But I'm not sure that Mr.1% should really be considered part of the community, at least from a community perspective.  His behavior wasn't just a little unusual for the community.  His behavior was so out of line of the community norm that I can't see him lasting long where the community is extremely friendly and cohesive. 

This article doesn't get into the the ins and outs of organization governed communities, industry managed communities, or self-selected participatory communities.  However,  if I managed the community, my ninjas would have taken him out a long time ago.

Some sexy Ladies of Craft Beer. By John M. P. Knox. 

And because women in beer are totally awesome, I teamed up with @Snax to bring you the "MisoHungry and Austin Women’s Beer League Host Beer & Dessert Pairings."  On Sunday, Oct. 24th, 2-4 pm, at the Gingerman Downtown Austin, join us for beer flights and tasty treats.  Sponsored by Austin Cake Ball and Sugar Mama's Bakeshop


  1. Mr. 1% showed his true colors. I think the beer community will quickly turn a cold shoulder.

  2. Thanks a (mash) tun Jennie! Good to sit at the table with you at the luncheon. Looking forward to sharing more 99% time! Cheers - Ginger p.s. I think he was a wanna be poser....

  3. From My Chenergy Blog:

    Daniel Del Grande
    October 11, 2010 at 3:42 pm · Edit

    Nice, Post, Jennie. Although he self-categorizes, Mr 1% is not actually in our craft beer community. You point out several mismatchs with the norms of the craft beer (group behavior). So Mr 1% becomes zero, and Paul’s original concept that we are 100% A**H&%$-Free remains true. QED.

  4. Excellent post. I can't believe the ignorant garbage some folks see fit to let out of their mouths. To build on what you said, I think the community selects the member, not the other way around. To agree with the above poster, if someone proclaims himself a member of the community, but the community does not recognize his membership, he ceases to be a member (if he ever was to begin with). And yes, craft beer people are super-fantastic. They aren't the reason I got into craft beer, but they are the biggest reason I remain involved and passionate.

  5. It seems that the collective consciousness of these small communities are applying the no-asshole rule.

  6. I find this post semi-elitist. Don't get me wrong I agree 100% that said community member is an a$$hole but you cannot be so polarizing. To say that if you are not passionately active in the community, then you are an a$$hole is unfair. There is a large group of individuals who are passionate about craft beer but may not have the 1) means to homebrew 2) Time to contribute to craft beer events. To lump said group into the %1 and label them a$$holes seems elitist. I can promise you that there is a large number of people who fall into you "%1" who aren't a$$holes, who truly do love craft beer and support it when and where they can. The way you break it down it seems as though you have a "you are either with us or against" mentality and that seems unfair to me.

  7. Evan,

    I'm not saying that people outside of the community are @#$%%#. I'm not saying that they even make up 1% of the community.

    I'm simply saying that within the community depicted by the two smallest circles, 99% of them are super cool and only 1% are #%$^#!.

    I don't think the craft beer community is elitist at all. Anyone can join and share the common philosophy. I'm a craft beer newbie; I've never homebrewed; I actually don't drink much in quantity or frequency; and they still welcome me.

  8. Pookiesoup

    I am not actively involved in homebrew or craft beer organizations. I am not an evangelist. I do not fit into the purple or blue rings. Reading the post made it sound like people like me we lumped in with the a-holes and indiscriminate beer drinkers. I know that the craft beer community is awesome and welcoming, I was simply giving another viewpoint on how others reading the post may react. No worries, I totally agree with everything you said anyways!

  9. Hi Evan,

    I think you do share the same philosophy though. I think you're one of us. Join us. :o)

    Walk towards the hops.....

  10. Todd Parker @beertoddOctober 20, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    I am truly saddened that you beat the odds and met that 1% type. Being in the industry, I have met them also. You have to just ignore them, and be happy that it is only 1% and not much more. Celebrate the 99%'ers. There are a lot of good dog people too (I'm not a breeder, show-er, ...; I just enjoy my stinker of a basenji)

  11. Wonderful post, and an issue that REALLY needed to be brought up. Not just for those in the "service" industry such as designers/developers etc, but for those in the craft realm and community.

    This has been a growing subject as of late, and in fact I was in a large discussion on Twitter the other day between many people about a very like issue. At what point does a craft beer lover cross the boundary from being a leader of the craft revolution, and simply become an asshole that ends up turning people off craft beer instead?

    From what I've noticed over the years, it turns out that plenty of people are guilty of this...hell even I was at one time. That idea needs to be changed.

    As for THAT provider "designer"...well...karma can be can be a bitch ;). I wouldn't worry much about him and I think he falls very well in the beer douche & human douche categories. Sounds like a very bitter and unpleasant human being in general.

    And as for being a part of a community with out being involved in every event you can think of...sure it's ok, and sure you're part of it. I don't know of any one of any community that takes part in EVERYTHING, it's just not possible. We all have our niches too. Which is a good thing. It takes the entire community doing all very different things to make it a community and to make the impact on the world anyway. You're doing good! :)

    Now as a closing note, I want to revisit this guys comment on women, tulip glasses, and craft beer....

    ...I don't even know where to begin as I fear it will turn into a 1,500 word post....

    I would be more than happy to challenge him on his ignorance, lack of knowledge and overall stupidity. Some of the biggest movers, shakers and leaders in the craft community are women...and often times it's BECAUSE of that idiotic stigma and idea of how women and beer (especially craft beer) "don't mix". Sorry buddy, but f**k off now ya?

    P.S. I have a list of about 300 beers blogs, and not only have I just came across you and added you, but you're in AUSTIN!! I'm here in Dallas and in Austin OFTEN. I run beer meet up groups all around Texas and my Austin group is by far the most popular and in my opinion because of the cities nature and attitude towards food and great of the best ;) You should totally come out to our next meet up here soon in a couple of weeks! I always buy new people the first round. :)