Often when talking about the different things that beer companies do to try to converse with their customer base it becomes apparent that they only like to talk about certain topics. How was your weekend? Did you like our newest beer? Come check us out at said event. I think these are great for talking to your customers, and getting them to become interested in what the brewery is doing, but to really educate the average beer drinker a brewery needs to take that extra step that will educate their loyal followers.
When I started becoming more, and more interested in beer I found it to be quite fascinating with some of the steps that brewers will do to make what you and I will have at our local watering hole. In a way this gave me initiative to start brewing my own beer. I am slowly in the process of producing my own beer, but through some of my friends I have heard of and tasted some of their concoctions which have been on both ends of the spectrum from being great to just toughening it out and drinking as much as you can.
Every so often I ponder some of the steps that go along with making my own beer. Such as where do I store it? In a hot or cold area?. When should I add hops? and different little recipe tidbits that would be helpful for beginner brewers. With any actual community online to support such questions a brewery could create a strong following of interested people willing to learn about beer, as well as voluntary professionals who are willing to offer guidance.
What I shout out to micro brewers is to help differentiate themselves from their competitors is to create a community that actively speaks about techniques to educate about their beer. Now for example I will use my favourite local brewery Alley Kat (http://www.alleykatbeer.com/) to illustrate how a microbrewer can help themselves out attracting the passionate beer drinkers. Now for those of you who don’t know alley Kat it is a microbrewery in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada that is the 4th oldest brewery in Alberta. They produce a wide variety of beers that range from their famous Aprikat to their most recent beer ESB bitter truth.
Now when looking at a lot of their traffic with regards to social media they have built up quite a following of loyal alley kats, in Edmonton. Talking primarily about their beer that’s coming out or will soon be leaving for a new seasonal beer. What I would suggest them to do is to create a community around the idea of beer education. They can do this by creating an open forum upon which people will be able to connect with others in the local area to communicate or even talk and give feedback towards the brewery. Often more of the progressive breweries that I have seen have instituted blogs by which people can offer feedback to the blogger(usually an owner or a brewmaster). This can be effective, but doesn’t offer the same sense of exploration on understanding all of the facets that go along with the beer making process(much like what beer smith does online http://www.beersmith.com/blog/).
I’m not saying that Alley Kat should try to educate edmontonians on how to make their beer, but to just make beer in general. I feel as though any brewery has already done this by offering tours to their locations, and explaining the steps that they undergo throughout. I just feel that taking their education to an online forum will allow them to influence a wider range of people, as well as offer more up to date answers to questions. Which after a certain amount of time users of the forum will be able to help answer questions on their own without alley kat. This may encourage loyal alley Kater’s to organize events that correspond with alley Kat or their own to help promote beer education. They can even partner with local liquor stores in the community such as Sherbrooke. Sherbrooke already offers the widest variety of beer in Edmonton why not use them as a hub for reaching out to your future online community.
By being the first in Edmonton to build an online community I believe that Alley Kat will be able to produce a more devoted set of individuals that are interested in what the company is producing rather than a place to talk about what they are doing on the weekend.