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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Two Cowboys: Getting Back to Beer Basics with Glacier Hops Ranch in Whitefish, Montana, USA

The Original

Sometimes, the way it's always been done is not necessarily the best way. Maybe, it is better to do it the way it was intended. For example, perhaps, our brewers are flavouring our beer wrong. There may be a better way. The way it used to be done, with fresh hops.

Heritage and culture are vital ingredients in identity. Communities are built around identities. Acceptable behaviours, a shared set of values, the types of food people eat, their behaviours, mannerisms, and the beverages they drink, are all part of what makes a community different from the next.



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Over the last few years, the craft brewing industry, the world over, has been challenging traditional norms in brewing and beer. Rules that may not be as traditional as many would have us think. Partly, because some of the true heritage of brewing was destroyed during the last century through market consolidation, over the top "identity" positioning, and through excessive regulation and prohibition movements.

The activity of brewing and drinking beer has gone from being in disrepute or simply being outlawed and over-regulated with a few providers of generally produced "bland" beverages, to becoming part of a cultural reawakening with a loyal community and following. The good news is that people are brewing again and drinking more craft beer. We are now benefitting from flavour experiences denied to most of us until quite recently here in Alberta. Unfortunately, not all are good. Many are getting better, which is encouraging. It can get much better.

This poses an interesting question. What was the intended flavour of beer before it all went wonky in the western world? If we should step back in time, one or two centuries, what would beer have tasted like, and if we could have tasted it, would we have like it?

As with all "old" and traditional recipes of a beverage, baking or dish preparation, the quality and state of the ingredients are essentially what determines its character. The method holds the key to success. You should not really mess with either. As far as technique goes, it can take a lifetime to perfect.

Here in lies the challenge. Can we brew beer with fresh ingredients? Yes, we can. Not many people have had the privilege to have tasted fresh beer, brewed with fresh malt and fresh hops. It is possible. We had it. It is amazing! Beer, as we know, has a limited lifespan. It is essentially liquid bread that goes stale over time, accelerated by exposure to light, oxygen. Some styles require maturation. Even in these cases, fresh ingredients make all the difference.

So, just how fresh can we get with ingredients for our beer.? We are brewing today with malt and hops that both went through preservation procedures that are of the oldest and most trusted methods in the world. Both are dried and shipped to brewers all over. In the case of hops, it fundamentally alters the characteristics of the ingredient, as we've learned from Tom Britz at Glacier Hops Farms. He's been on a mission to find another way to keep hops "pure" for the brewing process.

He's developed a non-destructive way to extract the hops parts we use for brewing through distillation. It opens up all kinds of possibilities that holds the promise of fresher and more authentic tasting beer. The question we were left with was, "does it taste better?".

The verdict: "For sure!" We are a fan, and we are so much a fan that we think it is going to change the beer world - for the next century, maybe. For next year, for sure!

Observations


Hops Oil (the way it is done by Glacier Hops Ranch under the brand name Hopzoil) is a pure essential oil made from fresh hops, steam-distilled right out of the field at harvest time. They are using a proprietary process to capture all of the fresh, intense, essential oils found only in fresh hops - the good stuff that is mostly destroyed through drying - and leaving all the biomass behind.

As we know, dry-hopping can be frustrating and expensive during the brewing process. Brewers that tried Tom's oil have learned that by using Hopzoil, they can reduce filtration losses, along with reduced labour, freight, and storage costs, and increase yield and aroma, leading to more profit out of every batch of beer brewed. This means it makes good business sense.

Does it make the beer better? Hopzoil™ provides an intense freshness that cannot be replicated with dried processed hops. The result captures the complex “fresh hop” aroma and flavour. This means that you can get a year-round freshly hopped beer taste for your beer. A taste that lasts longer than when you would have dry-hopped.

We tried it. It is a beautiful product, and in the Two Cowboys opinion, you need to buckle-up. This is going to change the (beer) world. We are glad to be part of the story.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Hops Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.



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Monday, October 8, 2018

Two Cowboys: The Best Memories In Life is Made at the Cabin in Bridesville, BC, Canada

Building Liberty


“There is some of the same fitness in a man's building his own house that there is in a bird's building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? 

But alas! we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveller with their chattering and unmusical notes. Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter?” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden


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I've finally succeeded in buying a small plot of land where I can build my little castle. My land. Paid for, completely. My name on the title. With a 75 Gallon per minute well gushing sweet, sweet cold water. Pushing up from 300 feet under my heels.

The view is incredible. The sky, enormous. Behind me a mountain. On my left a pond. Before me the future. I can see for miles.

Here, I will be building my little house and making my new home. Modest and simple from wood and finished by hand. A refuge. A fireplace, a mantle. My anchor.

It has been a four-year-long journey towards simplicity, value and significance. It is only the start. Yet, Some of it already feels a world away. Far from the daily grind of playing to the masters of interest and tax. Smiling for a dollar. Dancing for preservation. I've left that world behind now. Like so many others, I too was living for the modest 25 cents in the Dollar.

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

This is a journey like no other. A journey of liberty, self-discovery and purpose. Learning. Life. Meaning.

It is beautiful.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Liberty Cowboy

P.S. We will share progress on this journey. Stay tuned for regular episodes of our trials and tribulations as we set up our new location in the Boundary Country of British Columbia.

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.





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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Two Cowboys: Customer Reviews Are the Moments That Define Us in Rock Creek, British Columbia

Important Moments


I've discovered something real about life:

"Today is for the living. Yesterday is but a memory. Tomorrow is only a dream."

Our lives have profoundly essential moments that are strung together to ultimately define who we are and what we become. When these moments occur, the consequences often elude us until much later.

Customer feedback, in the form of an Online Customer Review, is one of these crucial moments in a business' life.

When something happens, we do not immediately grasp the importance nor its significance. We struggle through events that are painful. Happy moments encourage us. Years later, when we look back and recognize pivotable events, then we appreciate what it did for, in, and to our lives.

When one is young, a future fear accompanies each event - a fear of consequence. "Will it take me closer to my dream? Is it good for my career? Will it disrupt my business? Will I lose out on the opportunity? Maybe, I need to dream more and try a little harder."

As you get older, it is less about the consequences and more about the loss of an opportunity. The dreaded "if only" looms closer and closer when you realize that tomorrow is coming faster than you can dream and yesterday's memories are only a blur. The older you get, the more you appreciate how precious each moment is. You become more conscious of with whom you choose to spend it.

Here in lies the lesson. It is not the moments that define us as much as it is how we rise to deal with them. This sets the course for our lives. 

Choose Well


There are really only two choices. Moments happen to us, or we choose to create and rise up to meet them. Life is either a current that overwhelms and drags one along or a wave one accepts and rides.

Like it or not, our lives are impacted daily by the people around us. And this is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. Our family, co-workers, customers and businesses, are constants in our lives and defines who we are. We impact them and they have an influence on us.

If we mistreat them, the consequence is likely to be negative. If we support and encourage our customers, we will likely be better off.

Ultimately, we are a social species. Our livelihood depends on the way we treat others and the way we choose to see the world. It is good advice when parents teach their children to treat others the way you want to be treated.

Where Should I Spend My Dollar?


The Two Cowboys also get to decide, consciously or unconsciously, with who we do business and which people we allow into our moments. We recognize that it is a decision that doesn't nearly get the amount of attention it deserves. When we support a business, do they return the favour? When we get feedback, what do we do with it?

Our dollar for the coffee, the tenner for a steak, the oil change, or the more-than-half-our-paycheck we hand over in taxes and interest payments are all crucial decisions we should be making, aware of its consequences because it has a profound impact on our livelihood, and our daily lives.

For the business or government that gets our money and attention, it may be just another transaction - a drop in the day's ocean. For us, personally, it is much more profound. Our money and our time (our most precious commodity) are involved. For us, and many other customers it is a big deal!

The question that needs answering is, "To who does it matter more?". As consumers, we should not only make the decision with more intent, but we should be much more vocal and transparent about it. As a business, we can waste an opportunity engaging with someone that won't return the favour.

We are encouraging every customer to step up and become more visible and vocal about why they choose to deal with business A or B, or why they decided not to. Post reviews. Also, when a government spends your money, you should hold them much more accountable. Express your approval or disapproval. Don't wait for an election or fear retribution. If you don't tell them immediately, you are already a victim.

The Imbalance


We've come to develop a new appreciation for, and are now advocating "vocal 'activist' consumerism".

Our money and our time matter much to us. We want to spend it with people that value us. It should matter equally to those that get it. That is why we relish sharing our experiences in online reviews with the world regardless of the size of business with which we engage. Having a choice is no longer enough. We've found it even more liberating proclaiming our favourite and sharing our displeasure, and there are more and more people like us.

We want you, the business owner, to consider the significance of something as simple as an online customer review. Someone not only spent their time and money with you and had either a positive or negative experience but also took time to tell others (and you implicitly) about it - publicly!

Customer Reviews


The tables have turned in the marketplace. There used to be a massive imbalance where a customer or consumer's voice didn't count for much. There wasn't an audience for complaints and compliments like there is now in the online world. Gone are the days of a "complaints department" or "customer service" counter.

With the Internet, customer experiences are "democratized". Everyone has a say and a vote! Every voice has the potential to count, and some count for a lot more than many businesses would expect or like to recognize. One image, a video clip, one Google rating, a sentence, has the potential to make or break national brands! It does the same for a small obscure niche local business.

The consequences for businesses are profound, yet very simple. Treat every customer with the dignity and dedication they are entitled to, given that they too chose to spend their precious dollars and time with you. Ignore them at your peril. Know that your livelihood is in play.

Celebrate the positives. Respond to the negatives. Interact. Please, don't ignore feedback. It is an opportunity and a gift when someone wants to talk to you about your product or business. Don't delegate your social media interactions to a nitwit that only "handles" customer interactions. You are the nitwit for allowing a less-than-capable person to interact with your customers and do it publicly. If Elon Musk and Donald Trump have time to talk directly to their customers and the American people, what makes you so special that you can entrust it to an unqualified social media or marketing "underling".

Don't dismiss critical feedback. Good news travels fast. Bad news, travels even faster. The best advice we can give entrepreneurs and business owners out there is to be truthful, authentic, call out issues but stay vigilant and engage. Be part of the conversation and in the discussion. The worst thing that can happen is when you are left out of it. When people talk about you, instead of with you.

You cannot please everyone. However, make sure you satisfy the right ones. Especially, those with a platform that showcases businesses, and garners large public online followings. Their opinions tend to matter more than others.

Choose the opportunity, respect the customer, and build a relationship. It is a crucial moment.

Customer service is no longer optional. It is what you do as a business in a connected, always on, public world.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Feedback Cowboy

 We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

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