Last week we took a look at the various local craft beer groups that focus on community and sharing, socializing, and learning more about the many aspects of craft beer from the basics to sharing bottles of hard to find special beers (also known as whales). It’s been a real treat to learn about groups like the Syracuse Craft Beer Enthusiasts, and the CNY Craft Beer Society. Along with the Syracuse Women of Craft Beer, these groups have so much to offer and are very welcoming to all. Here’s the continuation of my dialogues with Tony Cimpi, Nick LaPlant, Stacey Juston, and Michelle Berthelot Giraud.
How have your experiences in the craft beer community shaped your perspective on the subject?
TC & NL: Craft beer has several pros and cons. Pros include more variety, availability, and diversity in beers. The cons include a hefty increase in price as more and more consumers come into the market and the occasional person who tries to profit dramatically from every beer.
SJ: The people I’ve met on my journey have and continue to impact me personally every day. This is one, if not the most, open and accepting group of people I’ve ever been around. Beer culture is about being a community, sharing ideas and opinions, suggestions and critiques.
MBG: There’s always something new to learn in the craft beer world and craft beer enthusiasts are more than happy to share their knowledge. Some of the friendliest people we’ve met have been through beer, whether it’s at a SWCB meeting, a bottle share with friends, or talking to fellow visitors at a brewery, we always have a great conversation and learn something new.
What do you think makes CNY unique when it comes to craft beer?
TC: CNY is unique in that the farmstead laws are generating a lot of local hop farms bringing hop farming back to an area historically known for growing hops.
NL: CNY is booming right now in terms of growth. The number of beer bars, breweries and the like is increasing at a rate that is unheard of. It will be interesting to see where the market settles out, but for now we encourage everyone to try all the new things!
SJ: We just love beer. Syracuse and its surrounding areas have over a hundred years of brewing history. In the 1800s Syracuse had around 40 breweries and kept that going until the longest running brewery finally closed its door in 1962. With the boom of the craft beer culture, we’re returning to our brewing roots. We have around ten breweries here in Onondaga alone, and most of those opened in the last few years. The rise of hop farms, grain farms, malt houses and such is only encouraging and supporting the consistent growth of breweries. Our city hosts multiple beer festivals throughout the year, with more planned each year. You can barely go a month without at least one beer focused festival occurring within an hour’s drive.
How has craft beer impacted your life?
TC: I have scheduled vacations and routes to pick up beers. This group takes up a good chunk of time also.
NL: I got to meet a lot of new people here in CNY. Also, it’s fun to surprise people with craft beers they haven’t had before but want to try.
SJ: Honestly, it has become my life (sales rep for Adirondack Brewing Co., beer writer, CNY CBS founder). My job is focused on beer and my activities are usually beer related. I have shelves of beer in my basement, cook with beer in more ways than I ever thought you could. I think about what beer will go best with my meals like others do with wine. I love beer and the industry; I can’t see myself doing anything else again as a career. It may have taken me 20 years to get there, but it was worth it.
MBG: My passion for craft beer and the influence of some of my best beer buddies helped me make the decision about eight months ago to leave my career and work in the beer industry (she works for three local breweries). When I asked my husband what he thought about this kind of career change he said, “it has great fringe benefits.” I haven’t regretted it yet!
If you’d like to learn more about craft beer and join one (or all!) of these groups, they’re pretty easy to find. You can keep up with their schedule of events and subscribe to them (all free of charge). The Syracuse Craft Beer Enthusiasts have a Facebook page; CNY Craft Beer Society can be found on Meetup.com, on its Facebook page and at Twitter as @craftedliquids; the Syracuse Women of Craft Beer can be found on Meetup.com, Facebook page, and Twitter at @cusebeerwomen. As Stacey said, the craft beer scene is one of the most open and accepting groups of people, so join and enjoy! Cheers!
Adapted from Table Hopping, February 2017