Yesterday marked the largest synchronized twitter event that the craft beer community has witnessed to date. At exactly 10am PST, 10 craft breweries coordinated with some of the biggest movers and shakers in craft beer on social media to announce the 1st International #IPADay.And it only took mere seconds for hundreds, if not thousands, of others to jump on board.
But amongst all the excitement there has been much confusion and some criticism. So let us set the facts straight with some FAQs:
Q: WHERE DID THE #IPADay IDEA COME FROM?
A: I truly wish that I or anyone else involved in the event organization could claim credit for the concept, but alas, we cannot. #IPADay was a direct inspiration from the wine industry, a social-media savvy community that has been celebrating wine by creating days dedicated to various varietals. The man first responsible for such a global movement, Rick Bakas, is a good friend of mine both virtually and in real life. Rick has, in fact, been a huge supporter and mentor of mine in the social media realm and I am proud to say he inspired the development of #IPADay!
For two years now, I have not only witnessed, but participated in worldwide wine events, most notably #Chardonnay day and #Cabernet day. I have witnessed the power and impact that these events have had, on a virtual level and also on a local level. This past #Chardonnay day, hundreds of wineries hosted events all over the world, and MILLIONS of wine drinkers united to raise a virtual toast to that beloved varietal.
And the real kicker? People who normally would choose beer or spirits, chose to drink wine on #Chardonnay day. And why? Because they wanted to be a part of something great, something communal — a global celebration.
I live in Napa and I am proud to be intimately entwined in its wine culture. I am friends with some of the most influential, inspirational and talented social media personalities in the wine industry. They are constantly engaging the world and bringing the community together, and all in the name of wine.
In Vino Veritas.
Now you may be asking yourself the same question that I have been asking myself for the past 3 years, why is craft beer so slow in adopting, understanding and utilizing social media tools? Why are we sitting back, while the wine industry is not only creating trends, but revolutionizing the use of social media as the world knows it? Why are we stuck in the Stone Age? Why are we so late to the party?
Well, this isn’t about wine vs. beer. Whereas many craft beer people love to attack wine, I can honestly tell you that just about every wine person I know, also loves and frequently drinks beer. In fact, the most common phrase reiterated throughout the wine industry is “It takes a lot of good beer to make good wine.”
The moral of the story is such: I love what social media has done for the advancement of wine and I wanted to see the same thing happen for craft beer. Period. End of story. If you want to see wine’s social media impact continue to exceed that of craft beer, by all means, reject IPA Day.
Q: BUT EVERY DAY IS IPA DAY, WHY DO I NEED A HOLIDAY IN ORDER TO DRINK IT?
A: Whereas it is wonderful that you (and others like you) personally enjoy kicking back an IPA every day of the week, it is important to look at the bigger picture. I hate to be blunt like this but, this isn’t about you. This isn’t about how you are already a craft beer advocate and celebrate and drink craft beer every day. This is bigger than that. This is about creating global awareness about craft beer through the celebration of one of our most beloved style.
IPA Day is not just for craft beer enthusiasts. It is an ALL-INCLUSIVE event for anyone and everyone who can legally consume alcohol. For many people, every day is NOT in fact IPA Day. Actually, I am quite certain that there are more non-IPA drinkers in this world than IPA-drinkers. And it isn’t necessarily because they don’t like IPA. Maybe they drink wine 95% of the time. Maybe they drink corporate beer and have yet to expand into craft styles. Maybe they don’t even know what an IPA is.
This is an opportunity for the craft beer culture as a WHOLE to collectively unite and promote craft beer to those that might not be within the inner walls of our tight knit group. This is an opportunity to encourage cross-drinkers to put down the martini, the glass of wine, the corporate yellow fizzy lager — and CHOOSE to drink craft beer instead. This is an opportunity for education and global awareness.
This is a movement. It is a global observation of craft beer. And once you start thinking of it in this way, you will begin to see the bigger picture.
Q: WHY IPA? WHY NOT STOUT OR PALE ALE OR PILSNER DAY?
A: For the 1st International Celebration of Craft Beer, we wanted to choose a style that was readily available in just about every market. We wanted as many people as possible, from all aspects of the industry, to partake in the movement. The India Pale Ale is one of the, if not THE, most brewed craft styles of beer in the world. It is also the MOST entered category in the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. A large percentage of breweries produce an IPA, making it a style that a great number of breweries can celebrate.
The IPA is also unique enough that it is more complex and different from some of the other common styles, like Pale Ales and Pilsners, but not too unique that it is intimidating or unapproachable for non-craft beer drinkers. If we were to start out with International Craft Lager Day, the excitement wouldn’t be as intense because the style is not much different from corporate lagers and not nearly as exciting as the IPA. And if we were to start out with International Sour Beer Day, most breweries would not be able to participate and lack of availability in the market would prevent it from being a large and inclusive event.
Q: HOW DID THE “HOST BREWERIES” AND SOCIAL MEDIA SPONSORS COME TO BE?
A: It is extremely hard to start a movement by oneself. This is why I asked my good friend and fellow social media addict, Ryan Ross, to partner with me on International IPA Day. We decided that, in order to give the launch of the movement the momentum it would need to be successful, we needed to recruit the help of other social media savvy persons in the craft beer industry. Our goal was to recruit like-minded breweries, from various regions of the country and the world, to act as ambassadors in their community. We also wanted to gain the support of some key movers and shakers in the social media and blogging community.
IT MUST BE NOTED THAT NOT ONE SINGLE DOLLAR HAS BEEN EXCHANGED IN THE ORGANIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF IPA DAY.
We are a collective group of craft beer evangelists and breweries, on a mission to unite the world in the name of craft beer. All ambassadors involved in the organization of IPA Day did, in fact, contribute something of value to the movement, but nothing of monetary value. The value they brought was their voice and their support — which is much more valuable that any marketing budget could have provided.
The “host and sponsors” were mostly brought on board to strengthen yesterday’s big announcement – which was a very successful one, I might add. We wanted to band several voices together to create the biggest impact possible. Now that the announcement has been made, #IPADay belongs to THE WORLD — and all breweries, bars, bloggers, and beer drinkers can do with it what they please.
The host breweries and sponsors will continue to get the recognition they deserve. Their continued support and dedication is the reason that this is possible, and we truly believe in giving credit where credit is due.
Q: HOW CAN YOU CALL THIS A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT?
A: Those who criticize the use of the word grassroots in our promotional material either need a better understanding of the term or they have a misconception about the development of the event.
Although used mostly in politics, the term grassroots implies from the ground up. It is a community driven movement, typically organized and executed by volunteers. IPA Day is in fact a community driven movement. It did not originate in the corporate offices of large beer companies. It was launched by two craft beer evangelists and then further enhanced with the recruitment of more craft beer advocates. And since then, the movement has been furthered tremendously through the support of members of the craft beer community all over the world.
Through awareness, celebration, and community support, perhaps craft beer drinkers will some day be known simply as beer drinkers.
Q: AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO GAIN, AS THE BEER WENCH, FROM IPA DAY?
A: Since this concern has been addressed, I will answer it.
This isn’t about me. This isn’t about any one brand, brewery or person.
IPA Day is about the advocacy of craft beer. It is about uniting the community. This is about inspiring others to drink craft beer.
Why did I feel the need to do it?
Because someone needed to do it. And let’s be honest, if there was anyone who could do it and do it successfully, it was going to be me. And I’m not saying that to be an arrogant prick. I am merely speaking the truth. I am one of the only people that can successfully bridge the gap between brewery, blogger and craft beer drinker — as I intimately involved in each community.
Market research has shown that, I do in fact, have a tremendous amount of influence in social media on the topic of beer.
With great power, comes great responsibility.
It would be irresponsible of me NOT to acknowledge my power of influence and NOT try to harness it for the greater good of the industry. Am I doing this for fame? No. But, I will not lie and say that I have nothing to gain from the development of IPA Day, as it will most likely increase my following and brand exposure. But that is not the main goal. The real focus of the movement is on craft beer itself, and everything else is secondary.
And in closing, I want to give a HUGE thanks to all of the host breweries, social media sponsors and the featured bloggers who helped make the announcement and the launch of #IPADay such a tremendous success. I also want to thank the hundereds of breweries, bars, and craft beer lovers who have already dedicated to the celebration!
International #IPADay is an event geared towards making craft beer more accessible to the masses. Please encourage all of your non-beer drinking friends to take a break from their normal beverage routines to join the worldwide craft beer celebration on August 4th! This is a time for education and advocacy! We should all set out with the goal of converting at least one person, if not the whole world of drinkers, into craft beer lovers!