Craft beer giving back; how a craft brewery could be helpful

I’ve written a lot lately about my 3 driving principles: to be helpful, inspirational, and creative. I’ve given an overview of how that will look in my craft brewery. I feel like that could still be fleshed out. Here’s a little bit more about how a brewery can be helpful.

Help is on the way, elevator, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL.JPG by Cory Doctorow on flickr

Help is on the way, elevator, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL.JPG by Cory Doctorow on flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Craft beer is often referred to as a community. The industry operates and the customers act differently than in other sectors.

Craft breweries don’t compete against each other—they help each other. I have heard stories of breweries sharing staff or even ingredients in a pinch.

Craft beer customers don’t simply buy the product—they share experiences. In fact, they’re often referred to as “craft beer fans.” We travel for miles to find a new brewery. We always want to take a tour of the brewery, no matter how many others we’ve seen. People get tattoos of their favorite brewery.

Craft beer giving back to the community

It’s a close-knit community. It follows that being helpful is a common theme in craft beer. Community involvement is commonplace.

I’m a fan of Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, Oregon, so I like to brag about them. Their “Beer Is Love” program gave to more than 600 non-profits and community organizations just in 2012. They also have a recording studio and provide other support for bands, including financial assistance, design and booking.

Craft beer giving back to employees

Community involvement isn’t only for outside of our walls. A brewery can invest in its employees, express appreciation for their work and generally treat them well.

New Belgium brewery is one of more than 11 thousand companies in the US that is owned at least partially by the employees. At New Belgium, an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) means that the workers own 43% of the company.

I once worked for an employer that touted “profit sharing” as a prime benefit of working for his small company. When I left after 3 years of employment with him, there was no mention of receiving any profits that I shared.

On the other hand, New Belgium was named one of the country’s best small workplaces in 2008. It’s not only the ESOP that has employees so happy to work there. In addition to full benefits and matched 401(k), employees have full access to the books and a say in the decisions.

My favorite benefit is that for every hour they volunteer in the community, they get a paid half-hour off of work.

I don’t know whether my brewery will have an ESOP or have a recording studio, but giving back to the community and treating employees well must be kept at the core.

I just finished reading Above the Line: How the Golden Rule Rules the Bottom Line by Steve Satterwhite. Steve describes how his IT firm goes so far as to find another job for the employees whom they have to let go. That’s really helping a person out! I was so inspired by that. I hope and wish to strive for my brewery to be that helpful.

These examples are of somewhat large companies. Do you know of a smaller, regional brewery that is helpful in similar ways? Let’s talk in the comments section below.


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    Drinks beer, quit his job, planning to start a brewery. I try to write every week about something in my life relating to my pursuit to start a brewery. Topics include: entrepreneurship, beer, leadership, and productivity.