My Thanks to 2016

2016 Reflection

As 2016 draws to a close, and everyone starts thinking optimistically about the coming new year, I can’t help but review the year and give my final thanks. Millions of people give thanks to the things most valuable to them in their lives: family, friends, and good fortunes in life are all things people should be thankful for on a year round basis. Even our public servants: teachers, police, fire, and military should be thanked throughout the year without having to wait for the end of the year holidays to do so. While many in the country are still feeling defeated and without hope after the 2016 elections, I hope this article will help heal the wounds a bit and remind us that we still have things to be thankful for other than the lists above.

What I’m thankful for may seem odd, but it brings special meaning for me.

I’m thankful for the craft beer industry. Now, I’m sure many of you are probably saying to yourselves, how the hell can I be thankful for something like that? Well, let me tell you why.

Thanks to Max Schosid, the Founder of Rocky Mountain Brew Review, I was given the opportunity to get involved with this ever expanding industry. Had it not been for Max, I wouldn’t have met the awesome people behind the scenes that work endlessly to provide a product many of us enjoy on a fairly regular basis, and kind of take for granted. Getting to know them and this industry, I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge, respect, and admiration for what these people go through as artists and servants to give us their best work possible in a highly competitive industry.

Since I began writing for Rocky Mountain Brew Review, I have had the privilege to explore and expand my appreciation for this art and engage with like minded people who truly enjoy and appreciate this industry and the passion that drives them. I have learned that, although this industry is extremely lucrative and has provided mass amounts of revenue for Colorado, many of these owners and head brewers are by no means “rich”. Not only do they invest large amounts of their own money into these businesses, they invest their hearts and soul.

Here’s a little story about myself that drives my passion for craft beer and why I’m so thankful.

Before I started this endeavor with Max, I was just another self-proclaimed beer drinker. I would puff out my chest and proudly say I could out drink any man in the room when it came to beer challenges. Even though I was always open to try new beer, I never really understood what I was drinking other than I liked it or not. Styles of beer were completely foreign to me, and as far as taste notes go, I honestly couldn’t tell you what malts and hops were if you asked me. But that didn’t matter; I was a beer drinker and I would drink any beer.

With my last semester of my senior year in college underway, I decided to take a beer and spirits course as a fun and potentially easy elective. Little did I know, it turned into one of the hardest, but most enjoyable classes I ever took. With the help of my professor, I was able to transition from Sam, the Beer Drinker, to Sam, Beer Enthusiast. This professor, as well as the guys at Sandlot Brewery, helped shape me into understanding and appreciating what the art of brewing artisan beer entailed. This class really helped me discover and develop my greatly increasing passion for craft beer and appreciate what these brewers are trying to accomplish.

Fast forward a few years later to 2016, and I’m now contributing as a writer for my friends blog. As far as jobs go, I have yet to have touching moments that have filled me with a sense of achievement that this one has done. Hearing from Max that my articles have hit home with brewers and are starting to resonate within this industry brings great meaning to me. While outsiders may think people like myself take this hobby way too seriously – that may be true – I’ve had the chance to experience emotions that drive life long passions and dreams, and that never gets old.

The craft beer industry has made me feel on top of the world as a writer and reviewer; something that I’ve had yet to ever feel. Even my college graduation pales in comparison. Like my friend once told me when I was deciding on a truck to buy, he said, “get the truck that makes you feel like a hundred bucks every time you drive it”. I believe that saying is more than appropriate for what I’m trying to accomplish in this industry.

So, what I am thankful for this year?

I’m thankful for beer. Because without it, I wouldn’t have been able to meet the friendly and passionate people that make this industry great. I wouldn’t have experienced the high’s I’ve felt writing these reviews and later hearing how much that review meant to them. I wouldn’t have been able to see the inner workings and the great lengths these people go to in order to stay relevant in a constantly changing industry. But most importantly, I wouldn’t have been able to share – and, to some degree, educate people that care just as much as I do about this craft.

When it comes to creativity, and innovation, these artists take great leaps of faith in an unforgiving industry that I admire and thank them for.

Sam Van Alphen

About Sam Van Alphen

Sam Van Alphen is an avid writer, hiker, and beer enthusiast. After taking a Beer and Spirits course in college, he discovered his passion for craft beer and the craft beer industry. Since then, he has begun a personal crusade to fully understand and appreciate the art of making excellent craft beer, learning about all the different styles of beer, and interviewing fellow beer enthusiasts to better learn what makes beer one of the greatest beverages one can consume. Born and raised in Colorado, Sam appreciates just how lucky he is to be involved in such a wonderful state that is leading the world in the craft beer industry.

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