Exploded View of the IBLP, Part 6: People

Today’s explosion of your Individual Beer Learning Plan (IBLP) focuses on People.

People: The most critical item in your IBLP, starting with you!

Besides the commitment you make to your self, who will you contact? Will they be available or interested in helping you learn? How will you approach them respectfully and mindful of their already full schedules?

Cheers to helpful beer people

Who will you call, email or otherwise meet to help you into and through the process? How will you choose people to tap into, connect with, or otherwise ask for help?

How will you make sure to thank and show appreciation to those who help you out? It’s very important that you execute timely appreciation to those who do help you out.

Yes, it may be good for the whole industry and beer community. No they aren’t obligated to help. Yes, most beer community people are happy to – if not eager – help other interested parties into the education fray. And everyone’s busy.

Be grateful in your pursuit and the beer universe will reward you nicely.

Part 1: Topics

Part 2: Tools

Part 3: Location

Part 4: Plan

Part 5: Budget

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Exploded View Of The IBLP, Part 5: Budget

Your Individual Beer Learning Plan, otherwise known as IBLP, is progressing nicely! Let’s cover Part 5 – Budget.

Ahh – the Money part of the plan. Some people say love makes the world go round, some say it’s money (We think it’s education, yet we’ll save that for another day.) Let’s dive head first into what can be a most sticky element – money invested in your pursuits.

Budget:

What’s realistic for your goals? We all have money for what we want to have money for. It’s called prioritizing. And we all do it differently based on both our head and our emotions. It’s a good time to examine your life budget since we’re assuming that, if you’re developing an IBLP, you are making it a part of your life, however large or small. What your dollar reality is is your own question to answer. We’d caution you to keep it in perspective – going back to why do you want to pursue your beer knowledge and to what end.

Your IBLP budget is part of the nuts & bolts of the plan

What’s your stretch goal? A stretch goal is one that is a few meters farther than your ‘goal.’ It’s the extra I-can-do-it oomph that finishers and finalists find when they think they’re at the end of their resources. You could think of it as extra credit too. The additional enhancements that will amplify and intensify your learning. Have at least one stretch goal. And when you accomplish that, make another one based on and fitting in with your overall plan.

How can you commit to your plan within the parameters of your funds? Personal budgets for an IBLP should absolutely come after your primary costs of living are solidly covered. Unless an IBLP is part of your professional development, it’s a secondary expense. And even if you’re a professional, keep it real. It’s beer. Yes, wonderful incredible and fascinating beer. It’s still simply beer. And yes I know that can mean a great deal to some. Just stay grounded.

Are there scholarships available? Some educational programs have opportunities to partially fund or facilitate beer learning per dollars. Cicerone, for example, had a superb sale to celebrate a milestone earlier this year. They provided incentives to the learning process with reduced monetary investment while staying true to the high quality of the program. Ask if you don’t know if there are possibilities to be taken advantage of – the worst a company can say is no. And a No is what you’ll for sure get if you don’t ask at all.

Are you ready to ask for help if it’s part of your plan? Asking for help is a sign of strength. By asking for assistance you open the door for myriad conversations, connections, and growth to happen. If you have your IBLP in order, when you ask you’ll be much more prepared to give an intelligent answer that may very well convince the party your asking to help you.

Almost everyone in the beer community and beer industry is open to helping others learn about beer. How you plan, progress, execute and continue is all on you. Use the IBLP to help your journey be successful.

Part 1: Topics

Part 2: Tools

Part 3: Location

Part 4: Plan

More to come

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Exploded View Of The IBLP, Part 4: Plan

Onward into the Individual Beer Leaning Plan (IBLP) with Part 4, your actual Plan.

Plan:

What’s the schema for making it happen? Sit down with your self and determine what you can and will do to accomplish the learning you want to make happen. A lot of life’s lessons are incidental. Make your IBLP purposeful and intentional and you’ll achieve your goals. A plan will guide you, it’s something you can modify and adapt as best fits your reality and it’s an important framework to have in place.

How will you plot out the tools you find that appeal to what you want to learn? We discussed tools a few posts ago so it’s time to review those that you wish to utilize and then see how and where they fit into your plan. Brainstorm a list of tools you want to use, making no restrictions on what you write down. The key to successful brainstorming is to let it all fly out of your head and onto paper. Then sleep on it. When next you approach that list of ideas, filter, sort and further organize your plan for success.

Is there transportation involved? There may be components of your IBLP that require no further action than to get to a computer. And there will be times when transporting yourself to push forward is required. Take a realistic look at how this part of the plan fits with your budget and goals. If you are studying with others this is a component that can be shared as well – carpool, bike rides to learning destinations, and the like.

Are there registrations and ‘paperwork’ to fill out? Invariably you may be asked to complete some forms, registrations or other ‘paperwork’ in order to utilize some of the tools available, like classes and certification courses for example. Keep it simple and also look for tools that require the minimum distraction while providing the biggest return of your time and resources.

Is the plan logical with your life and lifestyle? Reality sets in and can alter – and has – many a course. Be gentle with yourself while still being dedicated. Life Happens is a saying for a reason. Let it flow, consider Plan B’s along the way, and flex.

Part 1: Topics

Part 2: Tools

Part 3: Location

More to come

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Exploded View of the IBLP, Part 3: Location

Three down and more to go. Today we’ll talk about Location as it relates to your Individual Beer Learning Plan or IBLP.

As the old real estate adage saws, location location location is critical to property activities. And it’s most certainly a component on your IBLP as well. Having lived all over the country from towns of 200 to major metropolitan areas as well as the in betweens, location can be taken for granted or a struggle when you want to learn about something.

In the case of beer, we’re fortunate to have the internet (take you reading this post for example!). It’s unfathomable how much information is simply available on the net. Like any tool box though, seek out various instruments to facilitate your learning about beer.

Location:

Where are you looking for information for your IBLP?

Where can you find and get all the tools you need? We already mentioned the almighty internet. Seek out tools like books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and all topic specific publications you can get your mitts on. Even when you scan and return, you can learn. If you’re fortunate to have a research library close by or are visiting a town with one, go there. Topics, like people and relationships, can and do cross over and are interconnected in all sorts of ways.

Depending on the resources you seek, location will be easier of harder to figure out. Regardless, keep digging, calling on people who may be able to suggest, introduce or otherwise nudge you forward.

Are they close by or father away? Can you take a walk to get to what you want? Bike? Motorcycle or skateboard or bus? If you’ve got a beer study partner or group, then pool your efforts and take field trips to breweries, libraries, festivals and education events. The truly remarkable thing about studying in groups is that you learn exponentially, not just times whatever number of people there are present.

If they are farther away, the still super useful postal system of mail is an oft neglected method of learning and researching today. A paper copy of a request for materials, conversations or other goods is much easier to remember and access for some.  You don’t need electricity or a charged battery to access a simple politely written letter for help.

How do you get to them – or get them to you? The circle of info flow – from your questions to a resource and back again – needs the least amount of resistance as possible. The easier it is for you to make progress, the more progress you’ll make. Sounds simple yet we too often block our own progress with silly things like procrastination and unorganization. Ensure the channels are clear and wiiiiiiide open to give and receive.

And once you get information you’re seeking, be very sure to thank the appropriate helper – whether the librarian in person or on the phone or email, author, writer, researcher, brewer, and friends. Everyone who helps deserves thanks.

Part 1: Topics

Part 2: Tools

More to come

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Exploded View of the IBLP, Part 2: Tools

In yesterday’s post, starting to expound on the Individual Beer Learning Plan (IBLP), we covered Topics. Today we cover Tools. Dig in.

What tool can help you learn about this piece of brewing equipment?

Tools:

What’s available to you? What can you find tool wise that can help your quest to learn about beer? Where are these resources and how will you go about discovering them? Keep reading.

Are the resources online? The incredible and almost taken for granted World Wide Web that’s at fingertip reach is an extraordinary resource. You can find virtually everything you’d want and if you don’t you can create it yourself! There are hundreds of sites to choose from so root around and see what resonates, what you like, and keep searching and returning.

Is offline more your style? Then by all means, go for it that way. Books, magazines – “walk the stacks”, journals, newspapers, and so on are voluminous and very mine-able.

What about your local library? You support your local brewery so support your local library. The success of libraries depends on usage. Help them out by helping yourself. Plus many if not most libraries these days also have free internet access so you can double up your efforts. It’s also a great place to preview books and magazines to see if you want to buy them as well.

Are there hard publications you can pick up at your favorite local? There are a handful of free beer publications that get distributed around the country. Some pubs, breweries, taprooms, and beer stores have them available for the taking. Take them with you.

Are there people to talk with and follow? You may find a few people online that make you shout “YES!” when you read what they’re sharing. Go ahead and contact them if they have a contact page and let them know you like their work and would like to chat with them. Maybe they have suggestions for you as well. The only thing lost is if you don’t ask.

What institutions can help you out?

What of classes and seminars? Lots of communities will offer classes through community education, extension programs or educational institutions. Make some phone calls to find out who offers what. The superb bonus to taking classes is you’ll meet other beer-interested people. Maybe they become a resource or study friend or both.

Conferences and tutorials one on one? If there’s an accomplished brewer or home brewer in your area, call them to see when they’d have time to talk with you. If you do this, have some specific things in mind to talk about and be mindful of their time. Brewing is a lot of work and takes up a lot of time – be respectful and stay on time. Both groups – professionals and home brewers – are enthusiastic, have different facets to share and are generally happy to talk with people who want to know more about beer.

Where can you volunteer to learn more while participating? That small thing called a “Beer Festival” is relatively common. A quick internet search will yield plentiful listings of festivals involving beer. Contact the organizers or a favored brewery and ask if they’re looking for volunteer help. From set up to serving to tear down, chances are good a willing and energetic person is welcome. And it’s a lot of fun to work with brewery and distributors staff on festivals and events. States differ on laws per volunteer servers and any permits needed so be sure to ask about that, when appropriate.

Part 1: Topics

More to come

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Exploded View Of The IBLP, Part 1: Topics

The Individual Beer Learning Plan (IBLP) is an idea to help you learn about beer, whomever you may be and however advanced or beginner your knowledge is.

In the original post about IBLP, we posited several facets of the plan. The next few days will take us through some of the big information pockets of your plan. Today = Topics.

Topics as they relate to beer can go in infinite directions. Since we’re all unique and our beer experiences are therefore singular to us as well, we can start with big components that will inherit everyone’s experiences and allow room for all.

Let’s break it down.

Topics:

What do you want to learn? What do you specifically want to know? Are there general things you want to know or do you want to dig into the particulars? It’ll be very helpful to yourself and anyone you tap into to help you learn if you can answer this first. Saying “I want to learn everything!” is too broad to begin with. Do your homework, figure out where to start. The great thing is you can start anywhere. You’ll double back eventually, no matter what, anyway.

What's your plan?

The brewing process? Learning the actual process of what it takes to make beer is an excellent foundational place to start. When you know the basic steps of brewing, you can add more of the subtleties and then go as deep as you wish with the science part of the process.

Ingredients? Start with the basic 4 – water, grain, hops, yeast – and go from there. There are loads of other ingredients brewers currently use and have previously used – and will use in the future! With as wide open as the recipes are this day in beer, there are almost no limits.

Pairing tips? Ahhhh – beer and food together. This, my friends is where the Magic Happens. Flavor is where the whole “what should I drink”, “what should I eat” conversation begins. When you know what you like to drink and what you like to eat, then it’s time to play Garanimals with them together. Mix and Match, Try and Taste. The best case scenario: you’ll want to share it with everyone you know and repeat it. Worst case scenario: you simply won’t repeat it and move on. 

The herstory behind it all? Women have been brewers for literally ever. Once you get that crucial piece of the puzzle placed, then dig in. Find out and read about the personalities, characters and folks who’ve been in the landscape, at whatever stage it might be. Chris’ book, Fermenting Revolution, is a favorite of mine for this reason.  ‘History’ has been pretty one-sided. Get all sides covered by investigating the female side of beer as well.

Industry information? Do you know what Distributors do? How many ‘tiers’ are there in the American Alcohol system? How many should there be? Besides the consumer, who can buy beer and how so? Do you know some of the many intricacies of the American system? Learning more will elevate your beer activism – just make sure you seek out all sides of the conversation. It’s easy to villanize or neglect a side you’re not very open to, which may be human yet is grossly unfair.

Consumer information? How do consumers in America, and all other places for that matter, get their information about beer? Is it freely available? Do you have to seek it out? Can you get it to come to you? There are tuns of app’s alone on beer, although I’m not sure there’s anyone looking at accuracy of info vs. opinions. If a brewery website stinks, tell them! Call the brewery and ask them your questions that aren’t being answered online. It’s startling how many beer companies are poor at the info they put out there. Some are good, very few are excellent at it, many are sorely in need of professional help (not from a friend or relative who will work for beer). Tell them what you like, what you want to know and what they need to include. If they are glad for the input, keep supporting them. If they’re offended or do nothing, find another brand. Seriously.

Do you want to get into beer as a profession? Start contacting brands that appeal to you and get to know them before you ask them for work. Before you call to do any kind of informational chit chat though, do your homework. Know the basics of the business be researching them online and at your local library and wherever else they can be found. Never be a know-it-all. That’s a turn off and arrogance is never attractive nor a quality hiring bodies are looking for.

Do you want to be able to impress your friends with your knowledge? Then get a piece of paper and start drafting your IBLP today. Doodle your notes and soon enough you’ll have a jumping off point. Impress yourself by getting organized first, then jump!

Tomorrow: Tools

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Individual Beer Learning Plan (IBLP)

An Individual Beer Learning Plan or IBLP can be a superb part of the learning curve for consumers and professionals alike.

Plotting out the what you want to learn (topics), what is available to you to learn (tools), where it’s available (location), how you can go about accomplishing your goals (plan), what kind of investment it’ll take (budget), and who will you tap into (people).

Topics: What do you want to learn. The brewing process? Ingredients? Pairing tips? The herstory behind it all? Industry information? Consumer information? Do you want to get into beer as a profession? Do you want to be able to impress your friends with your knowledge?

Tools: What’s available to you? Are the resources online? Offline? At your local library? Are they hard publications you can pick up at your favorite local? Are they people to talk with and follow? What of classes and seminars? Conferences and tutorials one on one? Where can you volunteer to learn more while participating?

Location: Where can you find and get all the tools you need? Are they close by or father away? How do you get to them – or get them to you?

Plan: What’s the schema for making it happen? How will you plot out the tools you find that appeal to what you want to learn? Is there transportation involved? Are there registrations and ‘paperwork’ to fill out? Is the plan logical with your life and lifestyle?

Budget: What’s realistic for your goals? What’s a stretch goal? How can you commit to your plan within the parameters of your funds? Are there scholarships available? Are you ready to ask for help if it’s part of your plan?

People: The most critical item in your IBLP. Besides the commitment you make to your self, who will you contact? Who will you call, email or otherwise meet to help you into and through the process? How will you make sure to thank and show appreciation to those who help you out?

Learning about beer is as casual or intense as you wish it to be. Making a plan will be a productive and clarifying process to get you going on a topic you love already.

Caveat: It’s a slippery slope – this learning about beer! the more you get in, the deeper you usually want to go. Have fun sliding ~

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