Sunday, October 11, 2009

Love Your Distributor

I am excited and proud to learn that JJTaylor Distributing Florida Inc was chosen by the Brewer's Association and the National Beer Wholesalers Association as a finalist for the 2009 Craft Beer Distributor of the Year award. The award itself is in its third year of recognizing a distributor who has gone above and beyond expectations promoting, marketing, and selling artisanal craft and import beers. With 2850 distributors nationwide, this is a privileged honor indeed.

JJTaylor's distinguished nomination set this mind to pondering...

I enjoy a unique position as a beer geek in that I live on both sides of the counter. I both buy and sell beer, but it wasn't always that way.

During my three year jaunt in Eugene, Oregon surrounded by great beer culture, I couldn't help but be influenced by the vibrant beer scene. As a wondrous liquid libation, beer is also so much more than the simple sum of its parts. Whether craft or import, truly great beer is artisanal ingenuity, passion, pride, and humility at its best. Very few trades inspired by passion and vice-versa exudes camaraderie without borders as the world of great beer does.

It wasn't that long ago when I finally entered the world of beer. Wide-eyed, bursting with enthusiasm, and fueled by curiosity, this beer newbie broke the mold one fateful afternoon at the European Street Cafe in Jacksonville, Florida. From that moment onward, a spark long dormant burst into a passionate wildfire beyond any hope of quenching. My amazing journey along the path of beer had begun.

Beer is more than just a means of inebriation to me. As I savored each beer that crossed these eager lips, my thirst to learn all about beer branched out into various fascinating points of interest: history, myths, culture, brewing, cellaring, glassware, and so much more...

I loved beer, it loved me, and I couldn't get enough. I still can't get enough, and hopefully I never will.

In any corner of the world during any hour of the day hundreds of thousands, nay millions of beers are brewed, bottled, served and savored. Why then with millions to choose from was I doomed to the most deserted of deserts to quench my thirst: Florida. Specifically, Vero Beach and the Treasure Coast. Florida is my home, but what is a home without great beer to fill it with? My dilemma distressed me to no end.

The more beers I learned of, longed for, and didn't find, the more frustrated, bitter, dejected, and determined I became to enjoy said beers. Where there is a will there is a way. We do live in the most modern age of the internet, after all. Through various retail outlets, trading, and online communities, beervana was closer than ever before. At home though, I continued to be thwarted by a wide-spread epidemic of bad beers in good places and good beer in bad places.

Then one fateful afternoon that all changed. Stepping behind the other side of the counter, I watched my beery world grow in unanticipated and highly appreciated leaps and bounds.

Each leap and each bound was a blessing of immense proportions, though I didn't always immediately think so. After all, when all is said and done I am still simply a beer geek who loves beer. Through great patience and understanding on my part and even greater patience and understanding on the part of the wonderful JJTaylor associates I am privileged to work with, I have an even greater appreciation for beer now than ever before.

In my beer utopia, all beer flows freely and with the utmost respect for quality, ingenuity, and a dash of danger. In my beer reality, some beers flow freely while even more await their moment of glory in my glass and in the glass of all who love great beer. All is not lost though. In the USofA and all across the world, craft and import beers are on the cusp of a beery revolution of epic proportions. First and foremost are the stalwart and long-proven standards of quality over quantity, sustainability over immediacy, and individuality over mass-consumerism. In meeting individual needs and desires, the possibilities are as endless as the number of individuals in the world. In perpetuating mass-consumerism, the possibilities are limited and of fragile standings.

In fifteen years of retail experience through three different fields of work, no outside resource has impressed me as much as JJTaylor Distributing Florida, Inc. JJTaylor and those who represent them believe in the beer they carry, the breweries they represent, the retailers who sell them, and the beer lovers who drink them.

The beer I lovingly cusp in joyous hands didn't just appear there through magic and wishful thinking. She arrived upon my humble abode through the tireless efforts of the brewer, the distributor (and their staff), and the retailers. An intimate communion of trust, respect, education, persistence, patience, and faith all have to come together to work in enduring matrimony. When all those pieces come together and I hold in grateful hands the fruit of their labor of love: That is magic.

Petty squabbling, selfish demands, bitter grudges, underhanded tactics, and general irresponsibility benefits no one in the long run, least of all the beer. Beer is beautiful; don't ruin its timeless beauty with pointlessly counter-productive frivolous junk.

As a beer geek and beer professional, I am every watchful, ever curious, and ever learning. As a distributor, JJTaylor is ever watchful, ever curious, and ever learning. A company first, they are also a haven of beer geeks and, quite simply, good people. I know. I work with them on a daily basis and we have shared many a great beer. Their desire to grow smartly and their belief in what the craft and import beer world is and what it is growing into has brought JJTaylor Distributing Florida Inc to this moment: 2009 Craft Beer Distributor of the Year award finalist.

The underbelly of the fascinatingly delicious and diverse world of great beer is not always a pretty sight. Thankfully I am lucky enough to have a shining light amidst a din of average, mediocre, and just plain bad. Wherever I am in my never ending journey through beervana, JJTaylor will always be a model of tasteful beer magic.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

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