By Michael Marquess
Founder and CEO, Mother Road Brewing Company
NAU Alumnus, School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, 2001
National Beer Lovers Day. Just one day?! Forgive me, but I believe it applies to all 365 days of the year. Of course, as the founder and CEO of a brewery, I’m biased. Beer is kind of my thing.
I conducted an internet search to find the origins of this day. After one 16-ounce can of beer, I gave up. There was no clear, quick answer as to the creator of the day or the why. Normally, I’d suspect Hallmark was behind it (how many of those other days are meant to sell cards and things?). However, it is likely that this day was invented by you, the people who drink and love beer.
I’m going to delineate the “beer” I’m speaking of as “craft beer.” Craft beer is produced by brewers that are small and independent. That is, according to the Brewer’s Association (our national trade group), as brewing fewer than six million barrels (186,000,000 gallons) per year and being less than 25 percent controlled by someone else in the alcohol industry. These are the approximately 8,000 small, independent craft breweries spread across the U.S. They are your community neighbors. According to craftbeer.com, you are within 10 miles of one right now—lucky you!
Why does craft beer matter? It matters because we are a gathering place of our communities. Craft breweries, their tap rooms and restaurants are third places. In community building, the “third place” is the social construct separate from the typical social environments. Home is the first place, and the workplace is the second place. In his book The Great Good Place (1989), Ray Oldenburg argues that third spaces are important for civil society, democracy, civil engagement and establishing feelings of a sense of place.
Right now, with a terribly divided country, I can think of no better place to engage than a third place such as a craft brewery. Civil society exists because we can agree to disagree agreeably. As Americans, we share more in common than divides us. At a brewery, we can debate the issues of the day, or hop and malt bills in our beer, at our leisure. Is this discussion not easier performed, and more enjoyable, over a pint of your favorite ale or lager? This is how we brewers build community one pint at a time—focusing on commonalities and connections, not divisions.
So, here we are, on your day, National Beer Lover’s Day. Go out and visit your favorite craft brewer. Try a new brewery. Try a new beer. Pick up craft beer from the store. Love your beer and also try to love one other, even that guy who doesn’t love hops or your politics. Beer and community encompass all of us.
An inside look from Mother Road Brewing Company at the process of brewing beer: