Follow the journey
Some of you may have been wondering where the hell I have been while others may not even have noticed I was gone. To the former, I apologize but am happy to let you know I am back in action! To the latter, I hope to change your perspective going forward.
It's hard to believe that it has been over 5 months since my last post on the The Craft Beer Social blog... As many working adults know, sometimes life gets in the way of your hobbies. I even thought about quitting the blog at one point! But I had a lot of time to think about my future over the last five months and this blog was always a big part of that future. So, I'm back, buckling down, and it's full steam ahead!
The last five months have been jam-packed with ups/downs and sad endings/new beginnings. But in the end I've got a new perspective and motivation to pursue the dreams that I've been putting on my To-Do List for the last few years. Let me fill you in on my journey for the past five months.
I apologize now for the long post! A lot happened in five months!
My full-time job is as the Sales & Applications Engineer for a manufacturing company in the Clearwater/St. Pete area. Essentially, I'm pre-sales and work with everyone from individual customers to full-blown engineering firms on projects that may potentially use our products. I vet their applications and make sure it's a good fit for our products and then narrow it down to a single product and build out a custom configuration. It's not a terribly difficult job and there are typically two of us in this position.
Well, back in August my equal quit the company to go back to graduate school so I was left to pick up the slack. It wasn't until September when we finally posted the opening and started looking at resumes. We brought a few people in for interviews but no one really clicked and so we passed on everyone we interviewed. My boss gave me a lot of say in this process as I would be the one to train and work closely with them. Needless to say, I was being very picky because I wanted someone who I didn't feel was going to leave in 6-8 months.
After that round of applicants the job opening never got posted again. Since September I have been asking to get it posted again and nothing would ever come of it. So, I've been busting my ass at work doing the work of two people and also being the liaison for our international sales representatives. I HAVE BEEN SWAMPED! Working this hard day in and day out in front of a computer made me very unmotivated to come home and sit in front of a computer for a few more hours and work on the blog...
Later in the year I had actually gotten head-hunted by a recruiter for a similar position and was eventually offered the job. My boss and the executives, however, recognized the hard work I had been doing and made me a counter offer to stay that I just couldn't refuse.
Finally, just last week, I ran into the President of our family of companies at the copy machine and he asked me if we had filled the empty position yet. I told him we didn't even have the opening posted and he was completely surprised. He walked right to HR himself and get them right on posting the opening!
It's been a long five months at work doing the job of two people but I'm confident now that we will get someone to fill this position soon to take some work off my plate. So, I'm feeling much more motivated to get back on the blog game and get a head start on content before work starts to get a little less busy!
While work has been extremely stressful the last five months nothing compared to the upheaval in my personal life. Up until four months ago I had been experiencing the last four years of life in Florida with my best friend. We met not long after she moved to the Sunshine State from the mid-west and we had been inseparable ever since. I followed her to Tampa from Bonita Springs for her dream job and I managed to land the job mentioned above.
As we both settled into our new careers, talks about our future began to pop up. It was becoming apparent that we were not on the same page and that we even held differing long-term values. It ended up being our differing views on religion and the role it should play in our future that was insurmountable. After a couple months of hard conversations we decided it was best to go our separate ways. Were there other underlying factors that lead to our separation? Of course. But religion was the one that could not be compromised by either of us.
The separation was mutual but still difficult. We lived in S. Tampa but I work across the bay in Largo so the decision was made that I would move out of the apartment. Where would I live? Would I even stay in Florida (I can work remotely)? Well, I have fallen in love with the Tampa Bay area and did not want to leave. My friends, my gym, my work, the beaches, and my favorite downtown spots are all in the St. Pete/Clearwater area so I knew I had to move out of Tampa and across the bay. Luckily, I had a friend from college living in Clearwater who offered up a room at his house until I found my own apartment.
Moving in with my friend came with one, little caveat.. I had to help him renovate his house so he could rent it out by February 1st, 2019. He is an officer in the FL Army National Guard and had been selected for flight school to learn to fly helicopters. I moved in with him and his high school friend at the beginning of November 2018 and immediately began apartment hunting. It didn't take too long until I found the apartment that was exactly what I was looking for. Though it was November, I wouldn't be able to move into the new apartment until the end of January. This worked out perfectly as I no longer had to worry about where I was going to live and I could focus on helping my friend with the renovations right up until he had to leave.
I had never done a home renovation before but I certainly learned a lot in five months. I sometimes felt Chip Gaines from Fixer Upper!.. but I was missing my Johanna. It was an exhausting five months: Wake up, work, gym, renovations. Any free-time I had was spent removing popcorn ceilings, tearing down dry wall, cutting new flooring/baseboards, and sweeping. So much dust! In the end, we completely gutted and renovated the dining room, kitchen, living room, and one bathroom. The three bedrooms and two bathrooms had been done not long after he bought the house.
It was a lot of work but it took my mind off of my recent relationship and I also got to help out a friend who has always been there for me when I needed a helping hand.
Needless to say, I was so busy over the last five months that I didn't even think about putting time into the blog. I didn't update the website at all and only posted to social media a handful of times. But a new start is beginning and I have a new focus/motivation!
Moving Onward and Upward!
I moved into my new Clearwater apartment on January 24, 2019 and spent the first night on the floor as I didn't have the means of moving my bed from storage yet. But nothing was going to stop me from spending that first night in my new apartment. It's the first time in my life that I am really living on my own and by myself. It's been an extremely liberating feeling. I'm able to completely focus on myself and go after what I want.
With this new freedom I decided to physically write down a "TO DO" list of short and long-term goals I want to accomplish. These goals cover everything from traveling, to education, personal finance, and my career. Here is a snapshot of what I have written down:
The above is not the be all/end all list of things I want to accomplish but you can kind of see the areas I want to focus on: My physical/financial health, building the blog, and starting a brewery. Each of these short/longer term goals are also broken down into smaller steps/goals to make getting to them easier and to help stay on task.
In regards to the blog, my goal is to publish a new post at least every Monday. I've already put together a calendar of posts I want to write for the next several weeks. I also plan to post to Instagram and Facebook at least once a day. Everything I've read so far is that when it comes to blogging and building a brand, consistency is key!
I've already started my physical goals. I'm currently in the gym at Caged Crossfit five days a week, am currently competing in the Crossfit Open, and will be participating in WOD WARS IV in April.
Financially, I've put together a solid budget that I think will be easy to stick to. I no longer own a credit card and not eating out is much easier when you are single!
The brewery will come with time as I build the blog, brew more beers, learn from professionals in the area (through the blog), and read more.
While the end of 2018/beginning of 2019 was extremely stressful and disheartening at times I know that 2019 will be my biggest year of personal growth. I cannot wait to look back on this post in twelve months and see how far I have come.
There are a lot of craft beer happenings on the FL Gulf Coast each week. Ever wish you had a single place to see what is going on? Well, look no further!
I built the Maps & Events page to be a place for people to go to find breweries, distilleries, craft beer bars, and homebrew shops on the FL Gulf Coast as well as any major events they are hosting. The Maps & Events page focuses on the craft beer scene from the Tampa Bay area down to Naples. In that area there are currently 96 breweries with at least 5 more in the works, 11 distilleries, 5 homebrew stores, and countless craft beer-centric bars!
The Craft Beer Social started out as a fun hobby but as time has progressed I've decided to put the time and effort into making it a legitimate business venture. I hope that one day I can financially sustain myself from my blog/social media and eventually a brewery I plan to open. I'm in the very early stages of this journey and even though I make zero to little money from my blog I have decided to form an actual company. This will build my motivation, keep me focused, and make this journey even more real!
As I mentioned in my post about the National Homebrew Competition, I'm brewing as often as I can and entering as many competitions as possible to get feedback. Feedback from people that don't know you brewed the beer and from professional brewers/BJCP judges are invaluable. I want to improve my brewing techniques and the quality of my home brews and while friends and family can be encouraging it's not always the most honest. So, when I saw that Tampa Bay Brewing Co was hosting the inaugural Summer Home Brew Classic I contacted the competition organizer immediately about entering. I had 5 weeks to design, brew, and keg my two beers I decided to enter.
I decided that 2018 would be the year I take homebrewing more seriously. I've upgraded my brewing system (review coming soon), increased fermentation temperature control, and am brewing on a more consistent basis. Brewing more doesn't do much if you're not getting feedback and so I'm attempting to enter as many homebrew competitions as I can. This year's first competition was the National Homebrew Competition hosted by the American Homebrewers Association. Go BIG or go HOME!
What I love most about the craft beer community is the support for one another! I've seen breweries lend grain and hops to others in need. I've never seen a brewer not answer questions of a local home-brewer. And breweries are always fundraising for charities in their communities. In keeping with the craft beer community spirit I have decided to open up an online store that meshes support for the local community, education, and the promotion of home-brewing.
So far, I have partnered with two local craft beer businesses to offer products through my store.
The Craft Beer Social is all about getting you out to support your local breweries. So, TCBS has teamed up with breweries from Tampa to Naples, FL to offer you a chance at FREE BEER every week with my social media campaign, Free Beer Friday! Breweries have donated everything from two free pints to free growler/crowler fills to gift cards that I will then giveaway to one lucky winner every Friday. Each Friday at 10 am EST a random brewery that has donated free beer will be featured on TCBS's Instagram page. All you have to do to enter is the following:
1. Follow the featured brewery on Instagram
2. Follow The Craft Beer Social on Instagram
3. Like the Free Beer Friday post
A lucky random winner will be selected at 10 pm EST that same Friday and the prize will be mailed the following morning! Most prizes will be in the form of a gift card and can be easily mailed BUT this first giveaway is going to require the winner to pick it up.
3 Daughters Brewery has graciously donated a gift basket to help kick off the first Free Beer Friday on March 2nd as well as Tampa Bay Beer Week (March 3-11)! Their gift basket includes:
One of my biggest goals for the last year has been networking and growing the social media footprint of The Craft Beer Social. Some areas have been growing faster than others, especially Instagram. Over the course of the last year The Craft Beer Social Instagram page has grown by over 2,000 followers, more than a 300% increase! I’ve made some great connections in the craft beer industry through Instagram, but my favorite so far has been with Tampa Bay Food Tours.
The first week of 2018 is in the books and it's been a time to reflect on all of the beers from last year! Here is a list of my top beers of 2017 according to Untappd! I've compiled two lists..
1) Top 10 Beers I've tried in 2017 in order of my personal Untappd Rating
2) Top 10 Beers I've tried in 2017 in order of their Global Untappd Rating
Comment below to let me know which are your favorite beers or ones I should try in 2018!
The saying goes that brewers only make the wort, it's the yeast that makes beer. Brewers have been making wort for millennia and the practice has literally become a science in the modern era of brewing. Fermentation, on the other hand, is a lot more guess work especially for the simple homebrewer. You have an idea of how much yeast to pitch, what temperature to keep during fermentation, and what you want your final gravity to be but other than that there's no more information to know or gain during fermentation. Even most of that information can be quite inaccurate as most homebrewers are using stick on thermometers that don't give a true reading of wort temperature and in order to check the gravity throughout fermentation you will either lose some volume of beer and/or expose the wort to the air which can be a source of infection.
Then the PLAATO Airlock was invented.
Back in July, I was continuously seeing Facebook ads for a new Kickstarter campaign for PLAATO "The Digital Airlock" and after a few ads I finally clicked on the link to see what was so special. I was immediately intrigued when I started reading up about this airlock!
Here's the run down from the PLAATO website: