21 Dec The Pour Misfits – A Craft Beer Group That’s More Social Than Just Social Media
Facebook groups for craft beer are various and sundry. Indiana has several, some big and some small, and they focus on different aspects of beer. Northern Indiana Craft Beer Enthusiasts talk about a lot of things, northern Indiana beer, national beer, surveys, reviews, etc. Indy Craft Beer Lovers is smaller, focusing mainly on the beers being served currently in Indianapolis breweries.
Fort Wayne Beer is all about collecting old time beer memorabilia; on the other hand, Indianapolis Craft Beer Deals works almost exclusively in where sales are and what bottles you can get where. Most of these groups exist in the virtual world alone, they have a definite online presence, but less of a real life. I say most, because there is one Indiana online craft beer group that is very much a real world entity as well – the Pour Misfits (FB page here).
I came across Pour Misfits in person two years ago at the Midwest Sour, Wild, and Funk Fest, back when it was still held at the City Market. They had matching shirts and hats, walked around in small groups together, and generally looked like they were having more fun than everyone else. It was only later that I came across them online, and realized somewhat surprisedly, that they were based here in Indiana.
From that time to know, I followed their exploits online primarily, but would see people with misfits gear at various events and spot Pour Misfit stickers at breweries throughout the country (I have already written about how Walter and I are fools for brewery stickers). The more I read, the more I saw coming out of Fort Wayne, from who has still got what bottle, to what you drinking tonight, and especially calls to come join so and so as he/she is drinking at some local establishment.
It appeared that this was a group more about real world interaction, rather than just posting pictures of what they happen to be drinking at the moment and taking written potshots at each other. To wit, Pour Misfits sponsored an event called Extravaganza with a Purpose at Ted’s Beer Hall in Fort Wayne this past weekend. This seemed like a great opportunity to experience the beer hall at Ted’s, which Walter and I hadn’t visited yet, and a chance to track down some misfits and get some background on their organization.
Ted’s Beer Hall occupies one portion of the building on Coldwater Rd., just north of Fort Wayne. There is also a small market with homemade foods and products and a wine tasting room in addition to the beer hall, but we spent our time with the beer folks in the hall. Looks like a European rustic hall, more Swiss chalet-like than German, with flags hanging from the vaulted ceiling. Ted has 17 taps of purely craft beer, and many bottles to choose from as well. It will be a definite stop for us the next time we are up north.
The event itself was a wonderful fundraiser for the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission in their efforts to help residents out year round, but especially through the holiday season. The rescue Mission was established in 1903 as a faith-based non-profit organization to help people in a homeless crisis. The Mission runs four separate housing facilities and feeds many at risk people each day in nine surrounding counties. They also provide educational opportunities to men and women to help in procuring employment.
To raise money for the Rescue Mission, Saturday’s event had it all. Proceeds from three different beers went to the cause (Heretic’s Make America Juicy Again, HopLore’s BBA She’s A Keeper, and Summit City’s Kettleberry), half the price of any appetizer sold was donated, and there was a silent auction for many different beer and non-beer themed packages.
The silent auction packages ran the gamut from glassware and beers to Pour Misfits gear and even a GnomeTown Brewing brewlab certificate worth up to $1000. Almost all the local breweries donated items for the silent auction, and this points out one of the important features of the Pour Misfits – they do have very good relationships with Fort Wayne craft breweries. More about that below.
People could simply donate money or items to the Rescue Mission as well, and people did, but the most poignant way for attendees to contribute was to have their picture taken with Duffey for $5. “Duffey” is actually a life size cardboard cutout of Timothy Duffey, an early Pour Misfits member who is currently stationed in Afghanistan. Pour Misfits member Brian Humphries had the cut out made, and now they display Duffey where ever the club meets.
By 1 pm the place was full, with live music and nearly half the crowd wearing Pour Misfits gear. This gave us an opportunity to wander around and get some background on the Misfits. Luckily I ran into the four original Pour Misfits and we talked for a good long while. It is amazing how organized and active the club is (update: the Pour Misfits raised more than$4,400 for the Rescue Mission on Saturday).
Dustin Flaugher, Joel Swart, Eric Campbell and Tony Russell all took time to tell me about the history and mission of the Pour Misfits. The club started out as just these four fellows, sitting in various living rooms trading and drinking beers in 2014. A tap takeover at a local bar afforded these gentlemen the opportunity to meet another small group of guys that had the same sort of arrangement. They joined forces, came up with a name and logo, and the Pour Misfits were born.
The made up some T-shirts and wore them to craft beer events and a funny thing happened – people wanted to join them. They quickly formed an LLC, designed more merchandise, and started bringing in new members/increasing their online presence. Since this time in 2015, they have grown to over 1860 members and organized countless activities.
The Pour Misfits never profit from their events, whether they be bottle shares, meetups, merchandise sales, competitions, or charitable festivals such as the Extravaganza on Saturday. All profits go to back into helping the community or promoting craft beer in northeast Indiana. The philosophy of the group is to spread the gospel of craft beer. Fort Wayne was a bit later to the craft beer craze – the group was a way to help the community grow.
In talking to the four founders, Walter and I confirmed a couple of impressions we had formed about the Pour Misfits when following their posts online. One, this is a club that exists in the real world, not just online, and two, these people really care about each other. Some many Facebook beer groups consist of three things, a) posting pictures of what their drinking and trying to one up other people, b) rushing around to see who still has bottles of rare beers left and then buying them all up themselves, and c) saying mean things about members in hopes of being funny, or just because they can. This is not how Pour Misfits operates.
Events are often child friendly, and posts are workplace safe. People who are caught trying to profit on beer trades or resales are kicked out the group. Heck, carrying around a cut out of a missing member because they miss him and want him to feel included should tell you all you need to know about this group. On Saturday, everyone talked to everyone. The group is really more like a family, but not like mine or yours at the holidays – these people actually get along.
The second aspect that struck Walter and I is how active the group in the real world. The started with bottle shares, and still have them, but they also have meet ups, public meetings, as well as organized events for charity and for competitions. One of the most amazing things the guys told me about was the Pour Misfits Home Brew Competition. They divide the contest up into groups and the winner of each style or group of styles is rewarded with a chance to brew with professionals on one of the big systems in town.
This is an unusual set of prizes; other home brew competitions reward a single winner with a chance to brew at a brewery, but this contest has five or six winners, and they all get to brew on different systems around town. Again, this goes to show what warm relationships the Pour Misfits have with the local breweries. The group has become so trusted that breweries and distributors consult them on trends in craft beer, what beers to bring in, and other bits of market analysis. I don’t think this happens with many other groups.
To that end, we talked with Shannon Meyer and Tom Carpenter of the soon to be opening 2Toms Brewing. Both guys are avid members of the Misfits, and the online and offline presences of the Pour Misfits are doing all they can to talk up this future brewery. It’s just another way that help each other out.
Tom and Shannon are home brewers from way back, and many people in the Pour Misfits do brew. You might call them a quasi-home brew club, and they do encourage members to try it out or come to a brew day, but they don’t expect anything from anyone. You just participate to your comfort level. Their website even states, “If you like drinking, learning, and talking about craft beer, then you’re already a Pour Misfit.”
As an example of this, Walter and I talked to Matt and Lindsay Hayes, local residents and members of the Pour Misfits (about 80% of members are in Northeast Indiana, the rest are scattered around the country and world). Matt said that he joined for a couple of reasons, the connections of the people to local beer mean that he can always know what is on tap where and what is in the stores, but also because he wanted to get in on some bottle shares. I went off to talk to a couple of other people, and Matt was off palling around with other misfits – this is a family as much as it is a club.