November 3, 2012
I endured another holiday known in this house as “candy day” or “my least favorite holiday” or “why do we help boost Hershey sales day?” and known elsewhere as Hallo something or another. This particular holiday, which falls on the last day of October, serves as some type of social bonding day where kids from all over come together to walk around in costumes and request candy. If you object to this holiday, you are classified as anti-social. I know because that’s how all my friends classify me (though, to be honest, they do that without the event’s occurrence as well). This year’s venture into the neighborhood was marked by our two year old joining our five year old for his first outing and a very short trip around the block. Both expressed interest to return home after only a dozen or fewer visited houses because of the cold and drizzle. I thank the weather for limiting the amount of candy I will have to throw out and pretend was already eaten.
November marks another holiday as well: the annual, let’s wait for the new Founders release day. I have participated in this event regularly with Blushing Monk, CBS, Better Half, and Frangelic (not to forget KBS, but it is not a fall release). At some point, I assume, we’ll see Bolt Cutter show up in town, and either I will be totally prepared and ready to pounce, or I will miss its release. This is how such releases usually go down. I expect no less for GI’s Bourbon County Stout, which, too, should hit Kentucky this month. Last year, I luckily stumbled into my two four packs (no announcement; I was just beer shopping that day). Luck can be fickle. Beer luck is even more fickle.
Of course, this whole beer release game shouldn’t be based entirely on luck. With increased awareness in Lexington (and increased choice on the shelves), we are also seeing increased usage of social media to promote new beers. Social media usage is still not where it should be in Lexington, and the major retail chain in town doesn’t use social media at all except for posting cocktail recipes and “this day in history” posts on its weblog. But one can expect some tweets and Facebook updates from a few places in town once or twice a week, which helps me greatly since I live on the opposite side of town from everything. Typically and no thanks to luck, these updates pop up when I’m already home. Lexington isn’t huge, but when you are on the opposite side of town of everything, the distance feels huge. The distance also feels a bit less social, as if you’ve moved into a place where you reject the idea of being social. In the year and a half we’ve lived in this neighborhood, for instance, we barely know our neighbors’ names. We do know, however, via yard signs that many are voting Romney, and we know from the neighborhood listserv that either the wind or very anti-social neighbors have been taking down Obama yard signs. I also know that the neighbors across the street – who, in a very social manner, brought us cookies when we moved in – puts a crucifix in their yard come Christmas, another holiday that makes me feel quite anti-social since it’s not my holiday and I find the displays annoying.
Beer and social media, however, go together. Craft beer owes much to social media, including the hype that makes me want to camp out for a beer like Bolt Cutter. Even though, for instance, I’m no fan of Todd Alstrom’s recent online antics regarding a parking lot and Hurricane Sandy, I still use the local BA forum to help facilitate the “social” aspect of Lexington social media: updating locals about what is going on in the Lexington beer scene, information I’ve mostly pulled from experience (I was at the brewery that day having a beer) or online reading (I’m a human RSS aggregator). In this way, there is absolutely nothing special about my insight except that I’m online all day, and I follow every single beer entity known to man via Facebook, Google + and Twitter. I feel social through these readings, as if I know the beer world intimately, when, of course, I don’t. I promote the social so that others in town feel more aware of the beer scene here.
Unfortunately for this blog, I’ve also used social media to mostly photograph beer intake lately (uploading straight to Google +), so I have fewer pictures taken with my Canon, a camera I got about eight years ago with start up money from Wayne State. In this case, that was a mighty fine investment Wayne State made in me so that I would leave three years later. When I asked for a spousal hire, the most social of all gestures, my department colleagues said no and demonstrated academic anti-social attitudes. I’ve since used the camera for a lot of beer photography. Now that I rely too much on my phone – the social medium of the 21st century – I have lots of poorly lit iPhone pics uploaded to a never ending gallery of beer photos on Google’s platform. I guess that’s what being social is truly about. Uploading without concern. Engaging. Metaphorically throwing out photos (on to the social space) and pretending they are good. Being aware. I let everyone in my beer circle be aware of what I’m drinking. Is that really a social gesture? Maybe not. But I like to pretend otherwise.