"Beer changed my life"

It never fails - as each week progresses toward Friday, I get more and more anxious about what it is that I'm going to say to you, my dear readers. For whatever reason, I get nervous that I'm going to run out of material, that I won't be as passionate as I was the week before. And every week, without fail, I sit in front of my PC Thursday night and I have to stop myself from typing too much. I suppose being passionate about craft beer and the craft beer industry will do that to you :) In fact, Dave Engbers of Founders Brewing Company provided a wonderful quote at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver last week that goes right in line with how I'm feeling:

"I'm not ashamed to stand here in front of you and say, 'Beer changed my life.'" 

Here here! When I think about it, Engbers' quote is 100% applicable to me and why I'm doing what I'm doing. It's not just that I like beer - I want to bring it to others, host a setting where people can bounce innovative ideas off one another, donate to causes for the influence of policy change regarding antiquated, post-prohibitionist alcohol laws, and use my brewing as a vehicle to impact others' perspectives on the important things in life. I fully believe GrassLands has that potential. So while I may not always have real progress to report on GrassLands becoming a reality, I can guarantee that I'll exude as much passion as possible into what I've got to say every week.

With that being said, there actually is progress! The first GrassLands tees came in this week and they look killer! No pics yet, but I'm thinking you guys & gals will definitely dig the final product(s) when they're ready...especially the GrassHopper-membership tees! Rolling out the online store is taking longer than I'd like, but I expect you guys will have the opportunity to get decked in GLB gear soon!

Also, I've had a bunch of great conversations locally this week - none more enlightening and encouraging for the North Florida region than with the guys from Mad Mullet Brewing Company. Like GrassLands, MMBC is a startup brewery-in-planning in Tallahassee. They recently collaborated with Fermentation Lounge to brew one of their own recipes: a spiced and non-spiced Cracked Corn Common - which was exceptional. MMBC is a group of smart and funny guys who brew great beer and have just as much passion as me when it comes to stimulating the local/Florida brewing scene. I'm hoping they'll join me for my next brewday, which, surprise surprise, is rapidly approaching (hint of sarcasm: I just brewed last weekend). GrassLands is also excited at the potential of collaborating with both Mad Mullet and Fermentation on some brewing projects in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

That's another thing I'm really psyched about with regard to entering the craft beer industry - collaboration. From everything I've seen so far, the health of the craft market can be heavily tied to innovators willing to work together on behalf of the industry, as opposed to competing with one another, a la AB-InBev and MillerCoors. (Check out Anat Baron's awesome movie: Beer Wars for further context) In the end, breweries are technically competing with each other for our dollar, but it's great to see field leaders like Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Russian River Swamphead and Cigar City collaborating with one another to push out creative products to consumers. In GrassLands' future market, we've written into our business plan to incorporate collaborative projects with in-town commercial brewers as well as with regional brewers over the course of our first 2-3 years. That's something I'm REALLY excited about.

We've got a bunch of stuff going on - from the Sunshine Beer Challenge (in which GrassLands has 6 beers entered) to a bunch of refining/retooling of soon-to-be seasonal recipes; from modifying the Web site to accommodate new and innovative content to prepping for the upcoming Brewfest Tallahassee 2012. Full plate indeed!

Now as I close out yet another week, I should remind myself that I need not be anxious about what I write every Thursday evening - the passion is there and most likely will be for all time. Enjoy your weekend, my dear readers, because you deserve it.