A few weeks ago, the news of Red Cypress Brewery’s impending closure shocked the craft beer community. While this news was sudden, it is a new issue that Floridian beer drinkers are realizing: there are more beers on tap lists and beer shelves than ever before.
The one sentiment that reverberated through the internet and social media feeds after the news hit was some variation of “I always wanted to visit there” or I love X beer that I tried a while ago. The danger of having so much choice is so subtle that we don’t realize it and we move on beyond the places that got us to our current level of amazing beer. I find myself guilty of this, often driving by places that used to be a challenge to visit. Many lamented the relatively remote location of Red Cypress Brewery, saying that it was too far to travel on a routine outing, and required a road trip or a day drive. The distance was a challenge, but we quickly forget that visiting a brewery is not the only way to support it. I live two counties away from Cigar City Brewing and for the first four years it was open, that used to be my local brewery. I would find or make an excuse to visit this upcoming brewery and I would order or buy their beer where I could and ask for it where I couldn’t buy it. I don’t know why I stopped doing this, but somewhere along the line, I did. With the proliferation of great beer, I just assumed that someone else was asking for and supporting beers from Red Cypress or a number of other Florida breweries. Apparently, this did not happen often enough.
The one lesson that we, as beer enthusiasts, must learn from Red Cypress Brewery’s closure is that the breweries making great beer need our time and our support if they are going to survive, let alone if they’re going to thrive in 2019 and beyond.
Making great beer is no longer enough – Red Cypress certainly did that. Statewide distribution isn’t enough, either. When I saw Red Cypress cans on the shelf in beer stores throughout Florida, I thought that their relatively large distribution footprint was a sign of stability. I would pass over cans of Death Roll, Spook Hill, and Devil’s Chair for another, newer beer. Now, looking back, I see how what I did is similar to what everyone did – I passed over a brewery making great beer consistently in favor of giving a few breweries a shot to impress me with seasonals and one-offs. While exploration is still one of the most fun parts of craft beer, it is becoming increasingly important to remember the breweries that originally turned our heads toward the craft section and to send some love to the breweries that we know are making excellent beer.
While I will miss Red Cypress Brewery, I think that their closure may not be in vain if we can learn the lesson here: no brewery is 100% guaranteed survival in this brave new world of 7,000+ craft breweries. All of those breweries are vying with the big breweries and each other to win the hearts and minds of the same drinking audience. And that audience’s (including my) attention span can be small.
So, if you liked Red Cypress’s beer, buy up what you still see on the market, but also remember that, like Red Cypress Brewery, many breweries out there putting out consistently awesome beer would benefit from some love. As beer enthusiasts, it is easy to forget the beers that showed us the heights of something flavorful with a story and real people behind it. Red Cypress showed us that we never know what is going on behind the scenes, and while any brewery can be the next Red Cypress, plenty of breweries could avoid that fate if we keep them in mind by buying their beer at great beer stores (remember that beer stores need love, too), ordering a pour at our favorite beer bars, or stopping by the tasting room when we’re nearby or making a point to be nearby every now and again. After all, one of the most rewarding parts of craft beer is opening a beer and remembering why this is such a great community to be a part of.