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The Session 78 Roundup – You pitched, you scored

Logo image of The Session, beer blogging FridayWow, hosting The Session has been fun! Thank you to everyone who contributed, I thoroughly enjoyed every post offered this round.

In keeping with the theme of this round, I should limit my Roundup post to 250 words, right…?

HA! Impossible…because I’m sure everyone who contributed wants to score a mention. Hence, I’ll proceed with a traditional, very long, Session Roundup of over 2,500 words. And apologies for the delay with this post. I had hoped to squeeze it out before heading overseas, but I was swallowed by the madness of packing and preparing for two weeks away in the delicious craft beer land of New Zealand.

Anyway, one of the best things about The Session concept is the contrasts of opinions, approaches and styles. Just like the enjoyment of beer, the way bloggers from across the globe approach and present their contributions to The Session is diverse and very subjective. It’s personal, it’s regional and it’s full of colours, sights and complexities across many different spectrums. Each month The Session provides a little peek into just how deep the beer vortex goes.

As much as an “elevator pitch” is a metaphor, I decided to approach it literally with my own post for this Session, as did several others. However, like most rounds of The Session, many bloggers chose different paths. Some took the stairs, some climbed a tree, and some just stayed at the bar and avoided the lift altogether.

This month, there were three distinct approaches to tackling my topic.

The first approach was to take the elevator scenario literally, with the writer providing a 250 role play script addressing why the passenger’s beer choice was “bad” or why it could be improved. Examples of this included Beer is your friend, Beers I’ve Known, Girl+Beer, Baltimore Bistro and Beers, Tasting Nitch and even myself.

The second approach was to simply provide 250 words on the writer’s position about a beer topic, displaying their own thoughts on how the enjoyment of beer could be bettered. This approaches was fundamentally the type of post I was hoping to receive, and examples came from the likes of Phil Cook’s Beer Diary, Active Brewer, Frozen Beer Reviews and Soaked in Beer.

Finally, possibly the most popular approach came from those who thought they were rebelling against the topic. They tried to attack the concept or wrote about why they couldn’t or didn’t want to provide an elevator pitch. However, they essentially still did. They all provided short and sharp posts that demonstrated what makes them passionate about beer. Even if their argument was simply “it’s all good”, they have pitched their case for beer, and most were within range of the wordcount limit. Examples include Growler FillsDraft Magazine, The Beer Nut, Beer Philosopher

Where possible, my review comments here will come from two directions. First, as a beer lover who either agrees with or can support the argument. Secondly, as a marketing critic playing the role of the opposing elevator passenger to who these bloggers are pitching. Have I been converted to their message?

Ultimately, my personal aim with this topic was to become a better communicator on the topic of beer. Every single contribution will indeed help me achieve that. Full marks to everyone!

The first contribution came in from New Zealand’s Phil Cook of The Beer Diary, who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time whilst on holiday last week. Phil presents a case that I whole-heartily agree with, and seek to preach myself, in the ethos of “each to their own, do what you like…but be informed”. With four simple words to his elevator companion, Phil declares “Be Your Damn Self”. Phil does also break my rules about using footnotes, but their more for self depositions rather than justifying or expanding his elevator pitch…and that’s just Phil.

Am I sold on Phil’s pitch? I’m not sure….maybe now I agree, but I didn’t like myself several years back when I was drinking crap beer, so I didn’t want to “just be myself”. A prompt from an old friend to try something different set me onto a better path. Whilst I personally agree with the philosophy, Phil’s pitch is really just an excuse to keep doing what you’re doing and doesn’t seek too hard to illicit a change of mind or buy-in from the listener. However, the part which does win me over is “be informed”, because then I feel like there is something more I need to know, so I want to know it. What do you think? :

Up north from me, Glen Humphries of Beer is your friend fires up with another perspective that I also already agree with…just give different beers a crack. It’s the philosophy of a “beer journey (of discovery)”. The more you try, the more you will learn and discover. I think the evolving the line : “Just give something different a crack.” Could go a long way towards helping turn drinkers to better beer.

“Next time you’re at the bottle shop, don’t pick up some of that Kraft Singles lager you’re drinking but grab a bottle of something you’ve never had before. You might not like it but on the other hand, you might love it. I envy you – you’ve got a world of amazing beers to explore.”

I concur, and it’s a nice friendly message, but will it sell the concept to our local market that is dominated by loyalist drinkers? :

Local beer blogging colleague, Will Gartrell, also from Melbourne Australia, provided something I was hoping for by choosing a topic that is relevant to him when it comes to beer. Surrounded by a family of wine makers and writers, Will argues for beer over wine. I love his confident closer, the selling punch : “That’s why I’m going to tip your glass of merlot down the drain, and pour you a glass of Holgate’s Half A World Away instead. It’ll blow your mind!” (…I’d love to have an endless supply of Half A World Away to dish out! It’s the type of “wow” beer that could easily convert the so many non-craft beer drinkers with one taste.)

“It’ll blow your mind” is a common phrase that can be somewhat empty, so a skeptical listener could rebut with “but how and why will it blow my mind”. The clincher is the lead in, taking a glass of wine from a wine drinker and pouring it down the drain because Will is so confident that beer will provide a better experience in the mind of that person. That’s passion, and that’s a selling point. Now we just need to find a better way of saying “it’ll blow your mind”. Suggestions? :

Another Aussie, and Session virgin, Dan Summers of the irreverent Frozen Beer Reviews took aim at the misgivings towards brewery ownership, which is often a hot topic between craft beer fans when they try to define “good” and “bad”beer. He throws up examples of enjoyable and award winning beers that are made by the world’s two biggest brewers. Within the required word count, Dan declares that it’s what’s in the glass that counts :

Popping his Session cherry with Dan, The Self Obsessed Beer Snob Matt Carty has taken the approach of “here’s what you’re missing out on” in a nicely worded soliloquy that demonstrates the sensory power of beer. Who wouldn’t you want to experience all the flavour and feelings of beer described by Carty? It’s an approach every marketer tries to perfect and Matt provides a passionate and succinct 249 words :

Joining the club of virgin Session contributors from Australia that I was able to woo via email, Pia Poynton of Girl+Beer declares her dislike for Pure Blonde, a low-carb larger from Carlton United Breweries (SABMiller) by labelling it “boring white toast”. Comparisons between generic bland beer and generic bland food products are used a number of times across this session. Whilst the tactic can provide a powerful eye-opener of perspective, is it really an effective method to win over the listen? Let Pia’s pitch be the judge :

The Drunken Speculation blog was one of the first to turn the topic on its head. Instead of presenting 250 words of an elevator pitch, they conducted an interpretive dance in an elevator…in words. They’re just trying to expand your horizons. Well played, DS :

Also in the lift is Darren Keating of I dream of brewery, who delivers a nice line that I’d love to see a brewing company turn into a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign – “Life is full of choices, you sir seem good at making bad ones” :

True to his blog’s name, Beer Philosopher, Pivní Filosof deconstructs the philosophy of my topic/challenge and the idea of “better beer”. His sermon leads to the conclusion that an elevator pitch for a better beer world is impossible, leaving us with a beautifully worded statement that is the type of philosophy I can appreciate – “I don’t give a flying upside down fuck about what people drink or not.” :

Back in Australia, Jack Behne of The Westbender gives me just the type of post I was hoping to solicit, by providing less than 250 words on why beer can be better than the common view of beer as a fizzy yellow liquid that gets you drunk and gives you a hangover. Not a word is wasted in the entire 196 words of his post, as he tells the reader why brewing beer is an “art that is not matched in the entire beverage industry”. I’m sold, but is this a safe statement when those other industries challenge it? :

Session original, Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer, joined the chorus of those who sought to oppose the elevator pitch concept, yet still delivered perfectly with a worthy good beer message in the form of a 30 second YouTube sideshow. Stan’s pitch reflects his blog;s original intention for making beer better, by forever seeking to understand “when and how the where in a beer matters.” It’s a message that I also seek to preach – beer enjoyment is very much subjected to time and place :

Steve of Beers I’ve Known was another to take the literal approach with the elevator pitch, which he used to demonstrate one of marketing’s most tried and proven approached to winning over a customer – the freebie. “I believe the best way to convince people to think about new beer is to get them to try it, no amount of talking is going to persuade them. If you offer them a free sample then they don’t even have to part with their money.” Too true, Steve :

The Beer Nut was another who couldn’t place themselves into the hypothetical elevator (not the point…but anyway…), yet still delivered an effective closing pitch that works for me : “Either of these take your fancy? No? Well, the bar’s back that way if you want to try something different. What have you got to lose?” :

Back in Australia, Darren Magin of 250 Beers from Brisbane recalls some semi-truths about explaining the facts behind a beer that helped score a wife and a better beer drinker. When people drink a mass-produced brand because it’s historically the “local” beer, yet that status has long been wiped out by commercial takeovers, you can open their eyes to a better way of drinking. Too right…and well done, Darren :

Bryan Roth of This is Why I’m Drunk made me laugh the most, because when it comes to beer marketing, no one can deny that drinking lousy beer does NOT result in a beach party with bikini babes…does it? Brilliant, Bryan :

Do you like to experiment? Because that’s the call of Session first timer, New Zealand’s Denise Garland of A girl and her pint. With one word of advice – “experiment” – she finds a great hook for showcasing beer’s best asset – diversity – and adds a wonderfully simple and poignant phrase to the advancement,of good beer, which I will definitely use in future : “There is no limit when it comes to beer. So why limit yourself?” :

Actions speak louder than an elevator pitch, according to another Session first timer, Rebecca from The Bake & Brew. She utilises beer’s social culture to pitch her case for expanding one’s taste for beer, through the accepting and encouraging atmosphere of good beer drinkers. “When we’re around accepting people, we’re more willing to try things that are outside of our comfort zone.” :

Douglas Smiley of Baltimore Bistro and Beers uses his 250 works to ask if you know who actually comes up with the recipe for the beer you drink? Is it a passionate brewer (or is it the accounting and marketing departments)? Is the ugly truth enough to covert drinkers to a better way? :

Lew Bryson of Seen Through a Glass is happy with the current state of beer, so he uses his pitch to advocate for a better beer world through social drinking. “I just like conversation with my beer.” Yes! And isn’t the beer just so much better when the conversation is about beer? :

Sean Inman of Beer Search Party also offers one of the ultimate keys to unlocking a better beer world – choice. I love this analogy – “Would you eat the same meal, night after night? Even the most lazy among us don’t do that. But it is what you are doing by buying that one beer over and over.” :

A similar argument is used by Tom Aguero of Queen City Drinks. Variety is the spice of life, so why treat beer like eating the same McDonald’s hamburger all the time? Sadly, too many people still like eating the same old cheeseburger everyday, but maybe we can at least plant a thought in their mind that something better for their mouth is out there. Tom explains :

The wonderful right to choice is continued by L Allen Huerta of Active Brewer, who reflects on the preceding IPA Day celebrations, reminding us all of the wide choice good beer really gives us :

Rob Fullmer of Beer PHXation then does the seemingly impossible by condensing the enormous history of beer and it’s benefits to our civilisation into 250 words. His pitch shows us why beer is worthy of our appreciation…and appreciation through knowledge can be very influential :

Evolving the “choice” theme is Jon Abernathy of The Brew Site who focused on the fantastic diversity offered by beer. Beyond that, Jon explains that drinking beer is an unpretentious privilege : “When you drink a beer you partake in the history of a beverage that is nearly as old as civilization itself, but it’s unpretentious and amazingly accessible—you can even learn to brew good beer yourself at home!” :

Nate Southwood of Booze, Beats & Bites delivered a classic Nate-style Session post against the grain, which also ties into the “choice” theme. Nate drops a mere 12 words that, yes I admit, sometimes they are the best 12 words you can say to some people :

Boak and Bailey contributed the best looking elevator picture, but they were uneasy with tackling the literal elevator pitch concept. Nonetheless, their dot point pitch still echoed a good method for helping others discovering better beer, by finding out what beer that person likes and suggesting something similar but different :

Christopher Staten of Draft Magazine was another to shy away from delivering a literal elevator pitch, yet still met the requirements with a short post that provides a handy tagline for anyone, like me, who is getting too worked up about the state of beer – “Calm down and have a beer”. Point take, I shall do that…again. Oh, and the closing line is a gem :

What can I say about the contribution from Alan McCormick at Growler Fills (…I may be getting a little drunk here now, so maybe I’m getting lazy too)? Another attack on the concept, but a fine short post that delivers an excellent lesson : “With any pitch there is absolutely one essential component: no one likes to be criticized for their choice. Lead with opportunity, not criticism.” Alan also reminds us that the freebie can be the best form of marketing :

Alan McLeod of The Good Beer Blog joins with Lew in the joy of the conversation over beer. His pitch is the simple action of a well timed business card offering and a suggestion to call him when they are ready for more :

Luke at Likey Moose returns us to the literal elevator pitch, but turns it around and back on himself with an internal pitch :

In an elevator, Nitch explains how good beer is made with love.And then there was Nichole, aka Nitch of Tasting Nitch and her incredible comic-style “Super hero of the craft beer elevator pitch”. Creative, fun, and in an elevator! All I can say is… check out her pitch:

Finally, the BEST contribution of all came from Jenn of the blog Soaked in Beer

…ok, so I may be biased, since Jenn and I did just celebrate our third wedding anniversary. Regardless, my wife developed her pitch without any involvement or suggestion from me, and she published exactly what I wanted – 250 passionate words about something she feels very strongly about when it comes to beer as an industry and as a culture.

Marketers, bar owners and beer sellers…all beer people…please read Jenn’s plea – “Can we please stop with the whole ‘beer for women’ thing?”:

(Did I miss anyone?)

Well done everyone, excellent content. We could compile all these contributions into a book about what makes beer great!

All together, the clearest message was one of “each to their own”. This Session tells our elevator passenger to drink whatever beer you enjoy to drink.

And how do you know what really enjoyable beer is?

Answer: Try something different. Explore beer across the full spectrum of styles and brewers, and then you will discover the beers that you enjoy best.

This simple message may not always immediately sell our pitch with high impact and to the benefit of all, but I agree that it’s the right path to a better beer world.

To help this along, the best tactic we, as beer lovers, can employ is to offer a free taste of something different. Cheers!

Next up, for The Session on Friday 6th September, Adrian Dingle at Ding’s Beer Blog has set the topic: USA versus Old World Beer Culture

5 thoughts on “The Session 78 Roundup – You pitched, you scored

    • Yikes, sorry…missed your post in my wrap up! Don’t know where it went in my list…but have rectified that now, with your shoutout included in the Roundup. Cheers!

  1. Pingback: Session #78 roundup posted | Appellation Beer: Celebrating Beer From a Place

  2. Pingback: The Brew Nut – Session #78 roundup posted

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