Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fermenting up a Dream - Mystery Brewing Company

In a few short months, it will have been fifteen years since I packed my life into a car and left New Jersey for Alfred University. While I may not have walked away from there with a degree or any kind of job qualifications, that parental investment in my future did secure a modest collection of true friends. All have successful careers. Some have families. Few have started businesses of their own. It is on behalf of one of those last ones I write today. My friend Erik (@topfermented) is starting a brewery, and he needs your help. He has a dream, and he's using Kickstarter to offer you the chance to be a part of it.

If you haven't heard of it, here are the broad strokes. Kickstarter.com is a crowd sourcing website that helps people find funding for creative projects. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of crowd sourcing, it's pretty simple. You go, "Hey, Internet! Help me with this thing!" and if even a tiny fraction of a percentage of the internet responds, you will have more help than you can imagine.

Back at Alfred, Erik was my RA. He was one of the first people I met on campus, he stole my first girlfriend (but somehow we all stayed close friends), and he headed up the sketch comedy group I joined. It was there, in Friday Night Live that I found most of my closest college friends, and where my friendship with Erik truly began. Since then the Alfred crew has more or less kept in touch. We've converged for a handful of various New Years Eves in different locations up and down the east coast, from Maine to North Carolina. Smaller groups will occasionally find themselves out to dinner or sharing drinks.

It was at New Years Eve a few years ago, when I first tasted one of Erik's brews. I had been hearing about home brewing being a hobby a few of my friends had started, but Erik's was the first one I tasted. He'd added Kool-Aid mix to the beer at some point in the process, and the result was an incredibly delicious beer with a strangely pink head.

Each of us has a sort of calling, and you can be pretty sure you've got it right when someone else can see it for you. And that's what happened that New Years Eve. I tasted that Kool-aid beer, and knew somewhere deep down that Erik was meant for beer. He knew it too. He's been talking about starting a brewery for a while now, and I can tell you this. It is going to happen. He is going to succeed. I know very little about beer, but you have only to taste his flagship beer, a saison he calls Evangeline, to know that some day in the future, someone you know will find a beer from Mystery Brewing, and tell you that you need to try it.

Here's how you can be a part of Erik's dream. Go to his kickstarter page: Mystery Brewing Company and pledge. It doesn't have to be huge. Pledge $10. Pledge $5. Doesn't matter. What matters is that you tell your friends. A hundred people making micro investments, and getting their friends to do so is far more powerful than you pledging $100. This is the miracle of crowd sourcing, and the secret magic to how Kickstarter works.

Basically, you have a creative idea. You start a kickstarter page. You request X amount of funding, and give yourself a deadline. If by the time that deadline is reached, you are not 100% funded, nobody who pledged is charged. If you have met or exceeded your goal, all of your donors are charged, Kickstarter takes 5%, and they cut you a check. The thing to remember here is that your pledge makes you a donor, and not really an investor. The person who sets up the project has the option to entice donors with different gifts for different levels of donations, like a public broadcasting telethon.

This is how Erik plans to make you a part of the story. More than the gifts of bottle openers, t-shirts and beer glasses, donors will receive updates and information about the brewery and you'll get to feel like part of the team. He'll talk to you on the internet. He'll give you the recipe for his beer so you can brew some of your own at home. You may not get a dividend check, but you will be a part of the team, and you will have a great new friend. Pledge enough, and he'll bring a batch of Evangeline to your house.

There is no doubt in my mind that one way or another, you will eventually taste one of Erik's beers. Tell your friends you helped make it happen. And up until July 23rd, they can help too.

@nerdsherpa, not a beer expert, but a beer expert expert.

That link again: Mystery Brewing Company
Also: www.mysterybrewingco.com
and: www.topfermented.com

As of July 13, Mystery Brewing Company is 100% funded on Kickstarter. If you haven't already, you can still contribute until July 23. Many rewards are still available, as are bragging rights to some day tell your friends you helped the first ounce of Evangeline find its way into a bottle in your local store.

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