One of the charms of the Triangle craft brewing scene is how collegial it is, with most of the people involved viewing one another not as competition but as additional sources of good beer. There are numerous tales of brewers helping out others with ingredients, equipment, and advice.
Still, craft brewing is a big business. According to the N.C. Craft Beer Guild, the industry has created more than 10,000 jobs and paid more than $300 million in annual wages in the state, thanks to the 230-plus breweries that call North Carolina home. More than fifty of those breweries are here in the Triangle. Add another fifty or so local bottle shops to the equation and you can see how something more than informal networking might be needed. Even if you can't, Amy Hanson did.
Hanson, the marketing and events manager at Raleigh Brewing Company, has founded the Triangle Craft Beer Alliance. She says she did so after “noticing the value of craft beer in this state and trying to meet the needs of Triangle breweries and other parts of the industry. I wanted to help create a better way for everyone to connect and continue to support each other and grow.”
Although the TCBA has only been official since September, it already has several programs up and running, including providing scholarships for people interested in becoming part of the industry. Hanson says they are working closely with Wake Technical Community College, which has a brewing studies program. The alliance is also helping people who want to study to become certified beer judges and cicerones.
Furthering the focus on education, plans are underway for quarterly educational workshops to help local brewers stay current on the latest techniques and other industry issues.
If you're more consumer than creator, don't fret. The alliance is looking out for you, too. In early May 2018 it will host Triangle Craft Beer Week. Highlights of that week will include a Wild Card Brew Off Tasting Event on May 5 and a beer fest on May 12, featuring only Triangle breweries.
Joining Hanson on the board of directors for the alliance are twelve others from assorted aspects of the local brewing industry, including Chris Creech of the Glass Jug Beer Lab, Cheryl Lane of Double Barley Brewing, Korey Sullivan of Bottle Rev in Apex, and Dave Tollefson, one half of the N.C. Beer Guys. That varied makeup is intentional—Hanson says she wanted to make sure the alliance represents a wide array of perspectives within the business.
The alliance “is going to make sure everyone is well informed as to what's going on” in the industry, Hanson says.
That should produce results we can all drink, too.