I obviously felt strongly enough about craft beer to literally invest my life into it. So with the zeal of a missionary, and the wolves at my heels in the form of a bank we owed our existence to, I jumped into countless “wet samplings” at beer distributors here in PA to sell our beer in launching Victory. Two ounces at a time, I’d serve up samples of our early bottled products, hoping a taste would lead to a purchase.
One somewhat slow Friday evening, I stood outside of Hatboro Beverage with my cooler of Brandywine Valley Lager, Victory Festbier and HopDevil Ale, like a spider with a sudsy web. A pickup truck rolled into the parking lot and a wirey guy bounded out. For reasons I can’t recall, he did not strike me as the poster child for craft beer and enlightened taste. But I dutifully smiled and inquired, “Care to sample some fresh, local beer, sir?” He came back with a genuine, but not-so-promising, “What do you have like Coors Lite?” My mind raced through my possible responses, at this point well-oiled by many evenings of this business.
“Our Brandywine Valley Lager is a golden lager like Coors Lite, but with more flavor from German malts…”
No. I could not do it. I could not pimp my beers of integrity to this guy as if they were some sort of enhanced versions of insipid swill. I think the futility of past failures trying to do just that struck me at that moment. So I closed the cooler lid and smiled. “I don’t think I have anything that you’ll appreciate, sir.” Damn. I just called him a wimp. And denied him a sip of cold beer.
Rather than kick my tail, my honest assessment of the situation provoked a more positive response from him. He did not want to be denied. He pointed to my bottle of HopDevil on display and said, “That one looks interesting.” With renewed commitment and sincerity, I poured him a sample while talking through a few of the virtues of the ‘menacingly delicious’ HopDevil.
Without making the bitter beer face but a few polite words, he ambled off and into the store. Minutes later, emerging with a 30 pack of Coors Lite cans, he waved and wished a good weekend.
Craft beer’s dignity survived the showdown. For that I was ecstatic. Neither party offended the others sensibilities. Great! It was a true win-win.
I wonder today if a better salesman than I has converted that guy to craft beer? You see, I remain a Faithful Fool to this day.
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