August 19, 2022
Hopportunity Awaits is a brew on a mission to help highlight careers in craft beer, and inspire more of us to hold the door for the unique talent among us, creating more pathways for diversity, in every sense, across every role. Partial proceeds will benefit Craft x EDU as we work together to launch an educational grant for emerging professionals in craft beer.
On the cans, you will meet 10 industry professionals who are ready to tell their remarkable stories of how they got their start and paved their own path in craft, rules be damned. Without further ado…
Meet Josh Bernstein, a career journalist covering craft beer and author of five beer books.
How did you discover the world of craft beer, or what inspired you to join?
You write what you know. As a 22-year-old living in New York City, I dove headlong into the bar scene, bar hopping, and dive bar culture. So I started writing about bars for newspapers and magazines.
As the third wave of craft beer took off in the early 2000s, I started writing more specifically about beer itself, in time leading to a focus on the country’s booming breweries. My first book, Brewed Awakening, came out in 2011, and I now regularly write about beer for The New York Times, Imbibe magazine, Food & Wine, and more.
How was covering the craft beer scene when you first started compared to what someone starting today might experience?Craft beer at the time was new and exciting, and novel beer styles often drove the stories being told. Pint by pint, I was able to drink up the evolution of craft beer. By 2009, I also started leading so-called “homebrew tours” in New York City.
The tours were sort of like a roving, voyeuristic house party, taking strangers inside homebrewers’ apartments to drink beer. Many of those homebrewers went on to open New York City breweries such as Kings County Brewers Collective, Strong Rope, Wild East, and more.
As a writer today, I’m a lot more realistic about how brewing is a business. Forget David and Goliath. Small breweries have gotten big, and much of the romanticism has faded. Making quality products consistently again and again is tough. I’m more focused on reporting on the culture of craft brewing, the challenges of running a business, agriculture, and how the industry is evolving on an accelerated timeline. Trends are coming and going so rapidly these days.
What do you love about the craft beer community? Where would you love to see it grow or improve?I love the restless innovation and constant striving for quality, and the way that taprooms have become crucial third places in America.
Beer has connected people forever and ever, and taprooms are provided conduits to genuine human connections—difficult in this disconnected digital world.
As far as improvements, I think we have a long way to go for the craft brewing industry to grow into a diverse reflection of America at large.
What types of skills have helped you personally succeed in this industry?
I’m stubborn, tenacious, and curious. I look at beer as the end of the story. Where do the stories begin? People, agriculture, real estate, raw materials. As a writer, I’m adept at making the arcane accessible to a broader audience. That skill has served me well.
Who in the craft beer industry do you admire?I admire the back-of-house employees that package beer, transfer beer, clean tanks, put beer on trucks, perform cell counts, run quality-assurance programs and more. They’re the glue and grease that sticks a brewery together and ensures everything runs smoothly.
What is the most memorable brew you’ve ever had?Soon after our daughter, Violet, was born I had a Sierra Nevada Celebration. I’ll never forget that beer.
Would you take your daughter, Violet, out for a drink when she turns 21? Where?
I’ll let you in on a little secret. You can legally drink on the Staten Island Ferry. That would make for a memorable experience for her first legal drink.
But you know, it’s not a binary experience between before and after turning 21. The industry does offer plenty of welcoming venues to incorporate families into craft beer culture. I’ve taken my daughter to dozens of family friendly breweries already. We’ll sit at picnic tables and enjoy the weather, music, or lawn games.
You’ve written five beer books. Are you writing any more books?To celebrate the 10th anniversary of my book The Complete Beer Course, I have been working on a revised and updated edition that is scheduled to be released in spring 2023.
It’s been a big rethink, analyzing what information is essential when we live in a world where our phones can deliver us information on demand. What is the educational role of a beer book? I created a tighter focus on people—and not just head brewers. I decided to showcase the many roles in the brewing industry to help readers better understand how brewery employees work in concert to help you get that cold happy hour pint. Beer is people.
Keep in touch!Head to Josh’s website to see his latest writing and say hi on Instagram @joshmbersteinShare:
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