Ferment-Me-Nots : Questions to avoid asking your new local brewer
Recently attending the one-year anniversary party of [**Moustache Brewing**]—it seems like yesterday it was just breaking ground to its brewery in Riverhead, New York—with a pint of *Milk and Honey Brown Ale* in my hand, I started to think of other Long Island brewery births I have witnessed. I have watched many go from home brewer, 3-bbl systems, their first van, their first bottling line, to seeing them sell beer out of state.
It’s no surprise. **The Brewers Association** just [listed NY 2nd in new brewery openings], 67 in 2014, and a 54% production increase over last year. There are five Long Island breweries I know of that are in the process of getting licenses, leases, or opening tasting rooms. It’s a small community, and there is a good chance you’re a friend or a friend-of-a-friend of a brewer.
Talking to brewers—and attending a grand opening or two—I have come across questions that seem to pop up every time a new brewery rears its foamy head. They’re starting to get old, and some, frankly are starting to make me cringe. Maybe it’s because I’ve asked a couple of these questions, too (d’oh!). I think it’s time for “new brew” etiquette. Why look at me, I’m the [Emily Post] of beer!
Q: Can I have a free t-shirt or pint glass or…?
: T-shirts and other items are a popular way to get the brewery’s name out into the public. Friends may ask, “Hey who’s that? Where are they?” This merchandise is also a source of income, small it may be, that help fund that brewery. Don’t assume that the brewery is giving away swag for free. Don’t get bent out shape when the friendly volunteer behind the counter asks for your credit card. If you want something, ask how much it is, even if you know the brewer. Don’t put him or her in an awkward situation. If you get it for free—sweet! If not, pony up and help the brewery out.
Q: I invested in you in Kickstarter, so why can’t I get a free…?
Q: I know the brewer, so why can’t I get a free…?
: I know the brewer, too. I know lots of them. I don’t expect free beer from any of them, at any time. Remember that awkward situation with the swag? Don’t do the same thing with the brewer’s source of income. Full disclosure, some brewers give me free beer—like, all the time. But I don’t expect it or demand it whether or not I know the pourer. Don’t make the employee behind the taps uncomfortable by saying, “Me and the brewer, we’re like best buds. She gives me free beer all the time!” Plunk your dollars down, and maybe next round you’ll get a free refill. If you do get a freebie, sneak a few dollars into the tip jar. Every dollar helps a brewery grow. Now, don’t you feel better?
Q: When are you opening?
Q: Why don’t you make more beer?
Also, please try not to disturb a brewer at work. Some have to brew when the tasting room is open. Your desire to chit-chat doesn’t help them when they should be cleaning kegs. Let the brewer be your guide. Wave hello, then walk away. Have patience with a new brewery. It may not be at your favorite bar yet, but give it a year or two. It’ll be there. Soon-ish.