Thursday, June 11, 2009

Campaign for New Jersey Beer*

Been there, been living it: Think Jersey, drink Jersey.

But this like-minded initiative is all about putting a bug in someone’s ear, namely bar owners.

For six weeks now, Rick Reed has used his Friday night sermons from the mash tun at Cricket Hill Brewery to imbue the tour crowds to be foot soldiers in a rebellion to get New Jersey beers on tap at Jersey bars that find it fashionable to crowd their tap space with crappy Coors Light, yesteryear's Guinness, and that god-awful Bass wannabe, Smithwick's.

Those crowds in Fairfield are running about 130- to 150-people strong each week, and Rick’s arming his legions with cards that bear the name of the cause – Campaign for New Jersey Beer – and are to be left with bars and restaurants' wait staff, bartenders or managers. The accompanying text on the cards explains that Garden State brewers make topnotch beers, and bars in New Jersey should have at least one of those beers on tap. It’s a matter of taking pride in something that's made in the state.

On another level, the cards are the equivalent of a polite boycott, since the person leaving the one intends to not patronize the establishment until a Jersey beer gets tap space.

Of course, Rick’s preference is to see Cricket Hill tap handles grow from this action, and he says his draft accounts have jumped by a half dozen since the campaign started. Whether that’s directly related to his foot soldiers and the 1,000 cards that have been passed out so far is anyone’s guess, he says.

But the six new accounts are welcome business, and the awareness served by the cards is undeniably important: Drink Jersey-made beers. They’re local, they’re fresh, and they can hold their own against anything on the store shelves that pours in from New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, California, Massachusetts, Delaware or Europe.

Meanwhile, this thought came to mind after reading about Carrotmobs in a recent issue of Time magazine. In effect, the movement is a reverse boycott: rewarding businesses with patronage in exchange, in the case of Carrotmobs' requests, for going green.

It would seem like there’s potential for applying that technique to Jersey bars, prevailing en masse upon those places to put the locally made beers on tap and rewarding those bars with regular patronage. Granted, it’s easier, and perhaps more noble, to get businesses to change their light bulbs to CFLs, but we think the idea has potential for Jersey beer somehow.

Who knows, Jersey Maltmobs may be the next story in Time.

* FYI: The graphic above is of our making for the purpose of this post.

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