When good (craft) beer (enthusiasts) go bad

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When the last week of session is upon us – sh#t gets real – real in beer that is.

Everyone knows about the modern day beer wars, that is unless you have been under a rock or drunk in a craft brewery all session. But things just got more real, as reported by Scripps Howard’s super sleuth Matt Dixon, who exposed threats laced with very bad language directed personally at Senator Kelli Stargel.

As first reported by Dixon, there are some craft beer supporters who don’t seem to know the way to sell their side of the story, so they have started to tweet bad names to Senator Stargel, hack into her Wikipedia account, text her, and even call her home on Easter Sunday (yes, you read that right. Her HOME on Easter Sunday) and call her the B-word and the C-word.

Now let me be clear. I LOVE craft beer and the ‘burg is one of the hubs of craft beer and I am proud of what they have built and how they have grown in the market.

But what I am NOT proud of is how some on the craft brewery side are encouraging people to “get very angry” and seemingly incite a riot-like, crazy fight pointed at a lawmaker. Come on guys, there has to be a better way to advocate. This type of behavior, no matter the issue, is just not appropriate and impacts the credibility of the message.

My friends on the other side of the issue, those in the know in the industry down in Tampa, tell me that the craft brewers don’t really know the impacts of Stargel’s bill and that this bill will not put these craft brewers out of business or cost them jobs.

They also tell me that the claims of a tarrif are simply misunderstood and this bill is a way for the craft brewers to continue to operate and protect the three-tier system the rest of the industry has worked under since Prohibition. Basically, why should the new players to the game get to operate however they want, while the rest of the industry (manufacturers, distributors and retailers) have to follow strict guidelines and rules?

The craft brewers say they don’t want to have to send their beer off to simply have to buy it back again at a higher price to them sell to their customers.  They also claim this is an effort for big beer to hold down the little guy.

Well, little guy, I would give you some advice from someone who has thrown and received “punches” in this business.  YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.  STOP IT.  This won’t help your cause.

I will leave you with one quote that I found amusing in my research on the craft beer revolution. This is a quote from Cigar City Brewing owner Joey Redner over the Hunahpu’s Day “debacle” which was reported in Creative Loafing.  The below quote is not about the issue of the growler bill in Tallahassee, but more about some of the customer base that came to an event in Tampa in March. It is relevant because it speaks to behavior, and quite honestly I just found it funny and timely to reprint.

“We used to say we liked the craft beer scene because it was 99 percent asshole-free, but I don’t think you can say that anymore,” (Joey Redner) he said. “I had never seen the ugliness I’ve seen in the last couple of years.”

Let’s not make good beer look so bad.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.