Craft beer people are some of the best human beings on the planet. My interview with The Bruery, interactions with people at the Lost Abbey, and the fact that Phil at Skyscraper gave me (although it was brief because of monetary issues) an opportunity to work in a micro setting, show that I’m the first to point out how great these guys really are. Time and again, I’ve seen Sam from DFH take a few minutes to give and interview to a blogger, like Peter from Simply Beer. I’ve also seen Garrett Oliver give Peter the same time and effort. I could go on because craft brewers are people who easily and without contrivance ingratiate themselves to you.
Nate and I love craft beer brewers and don’t exactly keep it a secret. I’m personally one of the first to give craft brewers acclamation and praise where it’s due. And I also make it an effort to be honest about my experiences and interactions with them. It’s from that place that this post comes, so I hope you understand that I’m not being vindictive when I write this next bit; I’m simply being honest about the one craft beer jerk out there whom I’ve met.
As many of you know, Nate and I want to start our own brewery in a few years. Any experience that I can get on a commercial level in the meantime is invaluable for our future venture. As a result, I check in with craft brewers from time to time to see if they need some help (I now have a bit of experience to add to the equation). Let me set the stage: when I first moved to CA I emailed a couple of brewers in Southern California to see if they needed any help. Of the two that I emailed, one responded to me. He told me that he was sorry and that he’d like to be able to help but couldn’t. Later on, he got back with me, and I actually worked there for a bit.
The other person never bothered to email me back. I understood, I really did. Brewers are extremely busy people, and I’m sure they have a lot of emails to go through on top of working long and thankless days. I fully expect this to be our situation when we get off the ground. Disappointed, yes. Angry, not in the least. Fast forward to yesterday. Having looked up the location and driven over to this brewery, I pulled in and started talking to a brewer. He informed me that the owner (the one I’d emailed before) was out getting them some lunch. Sounds like a good guy, I thought. Anyway, the brewer was a really nice guy. We chatted for a few minutes, and he had plenty of time to talk and shoot the breeze, so it didn’t seem things were a rush at the moment.
As I was asking him if the brewery needed any help, the owner pulled up, brought the lunch in, and set it down. Looking askance, he seemed not to take much note of me. The brewer identified him as the owner, and I proceeded to tell him my name. Then I asked him whether they were in need of any help. Obviously, I expected a yes or no answer. If yes, I figured some follow up questions about qualifications and experience would ensue. If no, I figured I’d maybe get a “Sorry, we don’t need help right now,” or “We’d like to, but we just can’t have any more people because we just don’t sell enough to justify employing them.” Something like that. You get the idea. Which is why I was so surprised a moment later.
“Nope” was all I got, and the owner walked away like I was simply an insignificant worm. No dignifying of my presence, no explanation, no interaction with me at all. Now I’m not an overly sensitive person, but between the short verbal and attitude, I was scarred for life. Hearing the word no isn’t an issue for me. They either did or they didn’t have a job. Approach is everything, though. Forgive me for demanding some civility from people, but “no” and simply walking away is a rude and ineffective approach to dealing with people. And now the unreturned email is making a little more sense, too.
(By the way, he wasn’t that busy. He went to the office and sat down. And if he was busy, he could have said so and I would have understood.)
It seems to me that it is in a craft brewer’s best interest to be affable to those people with whom they interact, especially those in their local market. After all, those are the people who will say either good or ill about the product. Beyond that, those people may have a site where they can actually promote a product and at least tell people how good a line-up is or what a great person a brewer is. Either way, being an ass very rarely pays dividends. I pledge, here and now, that this will never be the case when Nate and I are off the ground.
I’d like to be able to tell you how good or bad the products from this brewery are (I’ve tried a couple), but I won’t be able to. Why? Because I’ll never buy a product from this brewery under any circumstances. I’m not looking to be appeased, nor do I want an apology, and I certainly don’t want an explanation about how it was a misunderstanding…I know better than that. What I do want our readers to know is that there are a ton of great craft brewers out there who are some of the best people on the planet but Craftsman Brewery’s owner, Mark Jilg, in Pasadena, California, in my experience, is not one of them.