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The Washington Post had a great story over the weekend about Dennis Buettner, a NASA employee who loves beer and who used to joke with friend and co-workers that he was the captain of the US Beer Drinking Team.

As a gag, he decided to establish such a team, creating a logo, membership cards and a website: Suddenly, without any effort at all, he found that 450 people he didn’t even know had gone on the site and signed up to be members of a team that in reality didn’t exist.

So, he sold them t-shirts and sweatshirts (at $19 and $30 apiece). In the 18 months since he started the site, he's sold almost 1,000 such garments, and more than 20,000 have signed up for membership on the team.

There are team members as far away as England, Germany, and even Australia. And Buettner dreams of chapters in every country on the planet, of setting up a Beer Lover's Hall of Fame, and international summits where beer lovers could get together.

Buettner tells the Post, "It's about the brotherhood of beer, which is a step above the brotherhood of man -- or maybe a step below it. The competition is finding the best beer on the best day with your best buds."
KC's View:
i>Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

(Though a beer drinker's team may not have been what George Bernard Shaw had in mind…)

The interesting thing is that the site and the team is not focused on drunkenness, but just on the social interaction that can happen over a tall and frosty. It's all about community…people's yearning for it, and the ability to provide it without much effort at all.

It's a good lesson for retailers. They settle for customers and databases, when they could be creating communities…which would be a lot more powerful and enduring.