Devils Backbone Brewery owner Steve Crandall was in a reflective mood.
“Let’s go around the table and hear what got us all into this.”
We were all together at Steve’s brewery, eight of us, huddled in a cozy booth, sharing beers as the last gasps of a hurricane blew in cold rain from the Virginia coast. We’re the Northeast Beer Camp team—or “O.G. 13” as we’ve come to call ourselves, in honor of hailing from the region that encompassed the original 13 colonies.
The beer flowed and each of us shared our story. Regardless of everyone’s
background—chemist, restaurateur, real estate, and a disproportionate representation of ski bums—the stories were remarkably similar. We were all just living our lives until one day—bam—like a lightning bolt, we had the beer experience. An epiphany that made each of us recognize that there was more to it than just beer. Maybe it was during a trip to Europe or a homebrewed creation or even a humble green-labelled Pale Ale that set the wheels of thought into motion. Hey, maybe I can do this too!
This story is common among craft beer fans, too. There is an a-ha beer that starts your spirit of exploration and experimentation. And when you find something good, you’re eager to share that with others.
In the beer business, we hear stories of the old days before the craft beer renaissance. Brewery employees were coached on how to stand with their beer—label out and always in a bottle, never a glass where the branding isn’t visible—and wouldn’t dare be seen drinking the “other guy’s” brand. That “either-or, us-vs-them” idea seems so far away from where we are now, gathered in a brewery restaurant sharing each other’s beers and ideas.
The experimentation, exploration, and sharing is really at the heart of what Beer Camp Across America is all about. We’re collaborating on beer and we’re simply connecting as passionate people.
As craft brewers and craft fans, together watching the culture grow, it’s important to step back and remember how and why we got on board in the first place. Beer Camp Across America is a chance to brew and drink incredible beer, to meet new friends, and to remember again those wow beers that shook the ground underneath our feet. We’ll never find that inspiration if we don’t take the time to look.