So there is this guy giving away free beer money. I shit you not. He’s like a fucking Unicorn. You’re told they don’t exist but then you see one. And it is glorious. This guy goes to SoCal local breweries & bars buys a gift card, puts it in an envelope, stashes it near the entrance, posts it to twitter & walks away. HE WALKS AWAY. He doesn’t even wait to see who gets it.
A few weeks ago we noticed our Twitter getting hit up with mentions from someone called @CraftBeerCash. We assumed it was spam, and because we are vengeful Twitter users we went to block them. But the tweets didn’t feel too spammy, and looking at them all together they looked somewhat real. So we decided to test it. “@CraftBeerCash free beer drop? what is such a thing?” and got a response which led to a direct message which led to us getting a beer about a week later on the condition that if we wrote about him we kept him anonymous. He was real…like the Unicorn.
He’s just a guy. He works as a bartender. He appreciates craft beer, and wants to give back to the community. He has combined those two things with the simple idea of paying it forward with beer money. The drops range in value depending on how well he was tipped at his job. Usually it is $5-20, enough for at least a beer if not several. He leaves the money anonymously because he doesn’t want to draw the attention to himself, rather let people focus on finding the money and enjoying their beer. In his ideal world, the person who found the beer money would pay it forward by buying someone else a beer as well. It’s charming in it’s simplicity.
What I couldn’t understand was that he doesn’t wait to see who gets the money or their reaction. So I asked if I could tagalong on a beer drop. I am not anonymous and had no problem sticking around. SoCal Sessions even offered to kick in on it. He agreed, and we decided to do the drop at Modern Times Lomaland Fermentorium in Point Loma. This is how it went down.
We got there about 2:30 in the afternoon and got a beer. I had a Blackhouse Stout on Nitro and he had a Booming Rollers IPA. We pooled our money on the table and he bought a gift card for $15.
The gift card went into an envelope he brought with him. Inside was a note of congratulations & a request that the finder tag him in a tweet. Then we walked outside and dropped the envelope in the bathtub planter in front of the brewery. We were trying to be discreet but it felt like everyone at the bar was staring at us. The envelope was easy to see to anyone passing by. @CraftBeerCash took a photo and sent it out into the world of Twitter. We retweeted. He left, and I went back inside to wait. I could see the edge of the envelope from my perch at a table near the bar.
Five minutes went by before someone walked past the envelope. They walked past and into the bar. How did they miss it?
And then a few more people walked past. Each time someone came into the bar I would look at their hands to see if they had grabbed it without me noticing, but no one had. 10 minutes pasted. Then 15 minutes. A dozen people had walked right by FREE BEER MONEY! I continued to tweet about it. Going back and forth with @CraftBeerCash
This was getting intense. I could feel my anxiety ratcheting up. Every time some came the bar without grabbing it I wanted to run up, shake them and shout, “Do you KNOW what you’ve done?!”
By this time a gust of wind had blown the envelope onto the ground. I watched as a man walking down the sidewalk stepped right over it before walking into the brewery. Then he went back outside to greet someone and stepped over it again. What the hell! How had he missed it twice?
Then it happened. A white SUV pulled to an abrupt stop in front of Modern Times. A man jumped out and ran across the street. He went right for the envelope and snatched it up! I jumped up out of my seat. My heart was racing. The excitement, the adrenaline pumping joy at seeing this man’s joy had me going. I felt like I could lift a bus or fight Mike Tyson. I had to meet this mystery man! But he spun around, hurried back to his still running, illegally parked car. Even from my vantage point across the street I could see the grin on his face. He pulled a u-turn and took off down the street. It all happened so fast.
I was standing there at Modern Times. My beer empty. My mouth open as I tried to process all that had just happened. And then the winner of the Craft Beer Cash drop walked in through the door. I swear I’ve never been happier for someone as I was for him.
The winner’s name was Bobby. He was waiting in line to buy some specialty beer nearby when our tweets about the beer drop started popping up in his feed. He was a follower of SoCal Sessions even! He was nearby, but thought he’d be too late. He decided it was worth the effort, and raced over. I assume he raced at safe speed without breaking any laws. I assume.
It was an emotional hour. It made we wish I were independently wealthy so I could just make people happy the way Bobby was happy all the time. And then I realized what a foolish thought that was. @CraftBeerCash is making people feel that way regularly, and he isn’t wealthy or even expecting to get anything out of his beer drops the way I wanted the emotional lift. If he can do it why can’t the rest of us? We just need to find our own way to pay it forward. I’ll stick around for the emotional roller coaster though. A beer for you! A beer for you! A beer for everyone! We could be the Oprah of beer.
Follow @CraftBeerCash on Twitter for more craft beer drops around Southern California. The next time you’re heading out for a beer you might just stumble onto a little reward. We hope you pay it forward, and someday buy someone else a beer, or a coffee, or give up your seat on a crowded bus, or help someone carry their groceries. Let’s all be Unicorns.