Building Community, One Craft Beer at a Time

Originally from Matt’s graywanderings.com blog on November 12th, 2011:

After visiting the Arvada Beer Company (ABC) last night, I am once again convinced that hometown breweries are restoring community to our neighborhoods.   I watched for over an hour as friends gathered for their TGIFs and children enjoyed homemade rootbeer and board game classics such as Sorry and Checkers with their parents. One group continued to grow and grow and grow into such a boisterous party, that it seemed like their whole neighborhood had showed-up to celebrate friendship, family and good beer. Located in the heart of Olde Town Arvada, families can enjoy food from a variety of local restaurants (including a Belgium Fries place right next door) with their choice of well-crafted ales in ABC’s well-lit taproom.

All of this reminded me of that fine T.V. comedy, Cheers, but with a family twist.  And in a world where we often claim to lose in-person community because of electronic distractions like Facebook, I think the case can be made that brewing establishments are restoring some of our American roots. In our beer travels this fall, I’ve seen this on several occasions:

Locals gather at Pike’s Peak Brewing in Monument, CO proud to support their new local brew heroes and the delicious beer being poured; proud to have somewhere to go and gather that they can truly call their own.

An elderly gentleman passing through Fort Collins between Wyoming and New Mexico, on his way to see his daughter, knows he can meet friendly people at Fort Collins Brewing Co.  He strikes up conversation with us and shows us the stunning Turquoise jewelry his daughter hand-crafted.

A couple from Florida share a table with us at Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora.  We can’t help but to have a conversation with them about beer and festivals and traveling. Our laughter transcends our obviously differing political persuasions . . . making it clear that beer should be served on Capital Hill.

At a Firkin’ Friday tapping at Hops and Pies in our near-by neighborhood, the Odell brewer’s mother, visiting from South Dakota, makes her way through the cramped space praising her son’s craft and bringing laughter to excited folks of all ages.

Breweries are simple places, serving complex and lovely beers, creating space for families and locals to go where everyone knows their name, and where a traveler might feel at home and soon be known just as well. These are spaces to share good stories and enjoy an automatically discovered common interest. Breweries are not the dark, dusty galleys of dive bars and pool halls, they are usually family-friendly atmospheres ready for a game of Parcheesi. Breweries might just save us from our self-destructive plight of dividing politics, warring religious ideologies, and the all-to-common tale of not knowing our neighbor’s name.

Even if you don’t like beer, that’s okay. Go to your local brewery and have a pint of water, make a new friend, and be a part of your community.

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