I have a pretty extensive background in the nonprofit industry, co-founding one nonprofit while also serving on several boards. In my current day job I also have assisted several brewers guilds in implementing membership management software and also am good friends with many Chicago brewer owners of all sizes. That gave me a great insight into the hardships and rewards that a brewery can be. In short, I understand what it means to launch a business. Finally as the adage says, no one starts a brewery to get rich.
For a split second, my mother in law was going to own a farm and I got obsessed with the idea of a farm brewery. But that fell through and I also feel I'm not fully committed to owning a for profit brewery. I am fully aware that its a lot of work and I've gone through several permutations in my head so here goes...
I feel that the biggest way to help support the growth of the craft beer industry and the overall organic farming movement will come from supporting agencies that can help educate the public and connect people and organizations with similar interests.
The issue - I have been doing a lot of research into local and national organizations that can help connect farmers, maltsters, brewers, and the general public and am coming up short. I just don't see anything that is on par with an organization like Slow Food.
The question - do you folks feel it is worth exploring establishing a nonprofit institute dedicated to the education and support of creating locally sustainable networks between farmers, brewers, researchers, and the public?
I am aware of organizations like the Northeast Hop Alliance, Siebel Institute (Chicago!), the Craft Maltsters Guild, the Brewers Association (obviously!), UMass Extension, and many more. However I feel none of these connect together in a cohesive way.
My ultimate vision is having a dedicated space on land that will be used for training farmers and brewers together while also giving the general public access to understand why this is so important. Basically a research brewery but with an explicit focus on education of the public at large. If you've ever heard of The Bread Lab, think of this as a beer focused version of it. In short, this could be the Slow Food of craft beer. And I can of course explain more of the business side of things and the plan is to base it in Massachusetts.
I also know that the beer needs to be great, the farming part needs to be sustainable and organic, and all of it needs to be economical and not some silly pipedream. This is about building a movement, not pretending to be a brewery.
Am I crazy? Am I missing something that already exists? Would people care?