Tanked In Cincinnati: A Lesson On What Success And Failure Look Like In Craft Beer

Written By: The Gnarly Gnome

Full Disclosure: This book was a gift from Mike and Bret. I can promise you that it didn’t change my opinion about the book, but it doesn’t matter. You should know that it was gifted to me.

It’s not often that I can honestly tell you that a book makes me want to both laugh and cry at different points… but this book does just that. It’s a journey through the success and failure of multiple craft breweries through the lens of several interviews done by Authors Mike Morgan and Bret Kollmann Baker during the recording of their “Brew Skies Happy Hour” Podcast. You are listening to their podcast, aren’t you?

While most of the interviews in the book are centered around Cincinnati stories and Cincinnati breweries – the lessons that are packed in the pages are much more universal than you’d expect at first.

The Early Adopters Don’t Always Win

We live in a world, both in beer and beyond, where many people seem eager to be the first to do something. The more I think about it, the more they seem eager to be the first at everything sometimes.

One of the many themes this book revisits is that the Early Adopters Don’t Always Win… or via the quote Mike likes to mention, “The pioneers get the arrows, and the settlers get the land.” In short… being first doesn’t mean it’s going to last – often the complete opposite.

They spend a lot of time trying to understand why some places stand the test of time and others burn out spectacularly.

Reading Tanked in Cincinnati made me miss some of these early adopters who aren’t around anymore. I miss the beers, the people, and the experiences that came around them.

What Makes A Success?

While they didn’t say it outright in the book – I couldn’t shake the feeling while reading that we’re looking at all of this through the wrong lens. Success or failure isn’t about a business being around or not. It’s all dependant on how you choose to measure that success. When I look at the contributions that some of the breweries that aren’t around anymore made to Cincinnati craft beer, it’s hard not to say that these places were a success in many regards.

Some people get into this industry to do something big – to create something that lasts long after they are gone. When they don’t achieve that, it’s a failure to them.

If anything… I hope that the folks who read this before launching a business of their own take some serious time to explore what success (or failure) actually means to them. It’s possible to have a financially thriving business that is a complete failure of who you are at your core.

The Book Itself

This one is a great, quick read (I knocked it out in two or three days, even with screaming children calling for my attention seemingly nonstop). It’s also one of those books that you’ll have new thoughts about when you read it again.

If you are looking to snag your copy – I encourage you to hit up Missing Linck Fest this weekend, 6/1/24, to get it in person (I’ll also be hosting a panel with the authors and some of the folks from the book that evening) – otherwise… head over to their website here to snag your copy and support the work that these guys have done to make this thing a reality. If you HAVE to purchase it on Amazon – I, of course, would love for you to use my Amazon affiliate link here – I get paid a little bit every time you do… and that helps me.

Regardless of how you purchase this book… it’s a must-read for anyone who loves Cincinnati beer or the craft beer business in general!

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