Book Review: Brewing Up a Business

"Of all that the world has to offer, it is innate human potential that is the most impressive."

I recently finished reading a book that I've been meaning to read for a while now, Brewing Up a Business, by Sam Calagione about the founding of Dogfish Head Brewery. I got the second edition a few years ago when it came out and actually got it signed by Sam when he came to visit University of Delaware to promote it. Dogfish has always piqued my curiosity since it is something from Delaware that a lot of people know of. I've had a few beers of theirs that I've liked, and recently (finally) visited their brewery in Delaware (they have a ale house here in Maryland that I need to check out too). Nevertheless, I've appreciated them as an ambassador of my (sort of) home state and was excited to sit down with this book after far too long putting it off.

I will say that this book didn't grab me in its entirety. There are cool parts, like the stories about the early days of Dogfish Head. There are also less cool parts, like going into how to balance your small business's budget (oversimplifying a bit here). I personally wasn't reading this book for the introduction to business lessons. I wanted stories and advice about life. I appreciate that the book has both, but it ended up with a decent portion of the book not being for me. I skimmed through the parts that started to lose my attention. It felt mostly like pretty boiler plate leadership and business tips that are very much currently part of the zeitgeist on sites like Inc or Fast Company (granted this book came out several years ago, so it was probably a little ahead of the curve).

There are some fine morsels in there (see the above quote which I love). There is also some neat connections for me personally between the obvious location for the brewery in Delaware, where I grew up, but also where I was born in Maine (the state as a whole, not my hometown). I really like craft beer, going to breweries with my partner, trying new things, and meeting the people who are passionate about their craft. It helps get a local flavor wherever I go and is a great way to relax and connect with others. I look forward to continuing this trend. I appreciate the opportunity to read this book to deepen the respect I have for Dogfish Head.

Go check out this book at your favorite book retailer or your local library. Sam Calagione also released another book recently, Off-Centered Leadership, so if you want more from Dogfish Head, check it out too!

Thanks for stopping by!

What I Learned From Living in Maine

My time living in my home state of Maine for the first time is coming to an end. I don't know if I will ever live here again, but I will certainly visit often and have appreciated being able to explore this naturally beautiful state. I've learned a few things from being here for two years, and I wanted to reflect on this time here on the blog.

My Appreciation for Craft Beer

Maine has an awesome craft beer scene. There are breweries of all sizes and styles, from Allagash, to Shipyard, Sea Dog, Black Bear, Geaghan's, Baxter's, and my personal favorite, Orono Brewing Company. This community is a fun, passionate one full of unique flavors and artistry in each beer. Going to local breweries helps support small businesses, but it also allows for connections based on a share interest with other people or it's especially great when you can talk with the people who made the beer you're enjoying. I look forward to continuing to support the breweries I love, and discovering new ones in Maryland and wherever else I go to visit.

The Value of Beautiful, Natural Spaces

Most of Maine is covered in trees, that is a fact. The state (which is larger than most people think) is sparsely populated with small towns nestled in these woods, and Maine also has a beautiful coastline. My partner and I especially enjoy the Bar Harbor area which is a popular tourist location that neighbors the very awesome Acadia National Park. There is an abundance of naturally beautiful spaces in Maine, with plenty of great trails to walk and mountains to climb. It is important to preserve areas like this for people to enjoy. It's good for communities in so many different ways (jobs, recreation, and the environment just to name a few major ones) and I look forward to finding spaces to explore in Maryland.

The Importance of Family

My mom and all of my extended family lives in Maine (my brother still lives in Delaware, where both of us grew up) so it has been nice to see my family up here more often than I ever had before. It is really great for me to be able to spend quality time with my mom as our relationship shifts into a new phase with me no longer being a student and "adulting" full-time with my partner. It is a bummer that I will be moving away and not able to spend as much time with everyone, but I know the values that I have developed and the importance I have put on my family will persist into the future. I'll come up to visit as often as I can, and it will be a priority more then it has in the past, when I would go too long between visits. Our families can be frustrating sometimes, but they also (hopefully) love us unconditionally. They will always be supportive and excited for what is happening in our lives, so it is important to make time for them when we can. I look forward to doing my best to continue to cultivate my relationships with my family, especially my brother and mother, since it was just the three of us for a long time and I don't want us to drift apart.

I've appreciated my time in Maine, but I am looking forward to getting my first apartment, living with my fiance, and being close to two big cities as well as our friends. Stay tuned for more thoughts as I go on my next adventure!

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#sabrews, Comradery, and Idea-Sharing: Geeking Out Over Craft Beer

beer As a frequent contributor to the #sabrews hashtag, it’s absolutely no secret that I can appreciate a good craft beer. “Small batch” brews? Love them. Enjoying a flight of Birmingham-made beers? Fantastic!

Choosing a different beer to try during each of my grocery shopping trips is a highlight of my week, and visiting local breweries and hole-in-the-wall pubs with large taprooms are some of my favorite parts about traveling. While my friends complain about the long, drawn-out tours, I savor observing and learning about each step of the brewing process before tasting the final product.

How does geeking out over beer relate to my work in higher education? For starters, my institution does send students to local breweries to learn more about the brewing process in addition to being immersed in the world of small businesses. Our students love working with Good People Brewing Co., and they get a lot out of the experience. It’s an internship opportunity for a certain type of skill set, and I am fortunate to have some great students to support our community as well as learn a great deal over the course of the term.

But I’d argue that the connection between student affairs and craft beer is far stronger in my own journey as a new professional. Navigating the world of higher education can be daunting, especially for professionals who are just beginning their careers. How do we “break in” to national organizations? In what ways can we network with and learn from professionals and students from our own region? How can we get to know our great colleagues outside of student affairs, beneath the surface level? For me, craft beer has been the answer. A week before I left for New Orleans to attend the NASPA annual meeting this year, I reached out to my colleagues on Twitter to gauge interest in meeting up at a local tavern to try some Louisiana-made beers and swap favorite craft breweries. I never expected any sort of response, but almost immediately colleagues from all over the country jumped at the opportunity for the #sabrews crew to meet up and talk higher education over good beer.

I made good on my tweet, and met up with some fantastic professionals to discuss our work and swap ideas on how to better impact areas such as advising and experiential learning. In one instance, I had the opportunity to finally meet with Sara Ackerson, a good friend from Twitter and fellow advisor. We frequently updated our Untappd accounts – an app dedicated to exploring the world of craft beer and sharing thoughts about different brews with the community. (In fact, I learned about the world of Untappd through a colleague from the #sabrews community!) We tried some great local brews in the Warehouse District while discussing different aspects of academic advising – in particular, triage and productivity. I came away from our time together with a lengthy to-do list of things that would benefit my office, including appointment calendars and referral sheets to make sure that students were aware of other experiential learning offices.

Sara and I had a fantastic meeting, but I learned so much from my colleagues over the course of the conferences. Better yet, I further developed relationships with a network of great people, got to know them as individuals within and outside of the context of their work, and the entire experience made the conference feel more personal. Professional development opportunities like national conferences can be overwhelming, but through exploring a shared love for craft beer, I was able to find a niche within a crowd of over 7,500.

Kimberly White is a 24-year old student affairs professional living in Birmingham, Alabama. She serves as the Internship Coordinator for the rise3 Initiative at Birmingham-Southern College, an experiential learning and critical reflection opportunity for students in the domains of faculty-student research, internships, and service-learning. She is also a BSC Campus Advisor to the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, Alabama Alpha chapter. Kimberly's blog can be found over at Leadership Development and Life in the Yellowhammer State or on Twitter at @whiteoi.