Lessons from beer

A new study from neuroscientists at the University of Western Australia debunked the long-held myth that drinking causes depression. (Read about it here)

We were certainly glad to hear that after all the beer we drank on our Boulder Beer Tour last week.

In the spirit of learning, here we present three lessons from the tour, which visited three of Boulder’s best breweries: Boulder Beer Co., Twisted Pine and Upslope:

First lesson: Team building is for everyone!

Lesson No. 1: Don’t judge a group — or a brewery — on looks alone; wait until you see what they’re made of.

When I went to meet up with our group last week at Boulder Beer, I knew nothing about them. After I plunked myself down on the patio picnic tables, I asked them what business they were in. They were attending a conference that dealt with industrial energy production and utilities.

I know next to nothing about that, but I do know that most of the power in this country comes from burning fossil fuels: oil and coal. Couple that with the recent uptick in natural gas fracking in the West, and the sweet Southern accents I heard coming from some of their mouth, and I assumed I was among some Texas oilmen. Not exactly my kind of crew. I started to sweat, thinking it was only a matter of time before I couldn’t keep my clean energy opinions to myself.

Well, you know what they say about assuming. You don’t? Well, I’ll tell you: When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.

That’s what I felt like for assuming these men were ‘down with the environment,’ big-business-above-all oil industry tycoons. Aside from being some of the most pleasant people I’ve interacted with this year, they were at a conference all about making the toxic fumes from burning fossil fuels less, well, toxic .

They were at the Dry Scrubber Users Conference, and they’re the guys who try to make the air clean. And the point of the conference was figuring out how to make the air cleaner. They were the good guys after all!

Well those good guys and this good gal had a real good time tasting beers, but I noticed something from behind my camera lens as I snapped shots of them checking out the breweries’ innermost workings; they were doing some judging of their own.

These men — and one woman — had come from all parts of the country — and one from Denmark — and boarded a tour bus to come visit Boulder’s best breweries. I think they were expecting Disney-style digs, complete with little headsets and an overly costumed and chipper guide.

What they saw instead were breweries; real, working operations producing beer as we watched. Complete with gerry-rigged fixes and patched up equipment. Our tour guides wore T-shirts and shorts, and dispensed information with a drink in one hand and a relaxed, un-tour vibe.

These brewers aren’t big companies. They don’t have spiels and they don’t do cookie-cutter tours. That’s because they don’t do cookie-cutter beer. They are just individuals who love a good brew, and love sharing their passion with us. It’s like if a friend invites you to their home; it might be a little messy, but hey, they don’t mind if you don’t.

We here in Boulder know that the product speaks for itself. But our visitors the clean-air heroes haven’t been let in on the secret yet. I saw them looking around at the PVC piping and the crowded quarters, and I saw that they were nervous.

‘We’re going to drink beer made here?’ I could almost hear them thinking. “This looks like a small-time operation.”

But I also saw them taste the beer. And I saw their assumptions vanish in an instant, when they realized just how much love these smaller operations pour into their craft.

I like to think the guys and me both learned an important lesson that day. If you hold too tight to your expectations, you might just miss out on something great.

Lesson No. 2: Sometimes the extra cost is worth it

We didn’t make our guys pay for their beer, but if they had, these folks from the land of Budweiser and Natural Light would probably have been more than a little shocked by the prices.

Here in Boulder, we’ll gladly shell out $9 for a six-pack. I don’t know too many people who don’t prefer the high-priced craft beer to the cheap, watery stuff you can get anywhere in the country. And sure, sometimes I’ll look at the checkout counter screen and long for the college days of cheap booze.

But then I’ll think of the giant, soulless — albeit very clean and shiny — corporations that produce the cheaper stuff, and I feel better.

Craft brewers take notoriously good care of their workers. They make beer because it’s what they love to do, and they treat people well because that’s what they should do. They’re just hoping that people will see the value of that.

As I spent more time among our energy industry friends, I felt they had that in common with the brewers: They were here in Colorado to brainstorm ways to clean up a messy, but necessary, process.

We all need energy to power our lives, and I’m glad there are people out there working in the power plants that have the health of our planet in mind, and not just giant dollar signs. We need people and companies like that, who recognize that while it costs more to do the right thing, the cost of doing the wrong thing is much higher.

Lesson No. 3: Damn good people appreciate damn good beer

This one’s going to be short and sweet, because it’s something we all know but maybe just need a reminder of.

When’s the last time you met a jerk while enjoying some truly amazing beer? I’m sure it’s happened; I’m just saying that it doesn’t happen that often. There’s just something about appreciation of quality brew that weeds out the bad seeds.

Whether it’s that good beer brings out the best IN people, or that it just brings out the best people, joining CWRAG for a tour of Boulder’s breweries will almost guarantee that you’ll have a fun, memorable and safe afternoon.

Call us today to book your booze cruise: 720-242-9828

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