I am pleased to say that the current issue of the Great Lake Brewing News has an article starting on its front page that I wrote. It's about the internet and beer. My biggest surprise since that link-fest came out and got into the hands of this regional brewing nerds is some of the feedback I have been getting. One of the most interesting was from Andrew Mason from Flossmoor Station of Illinois, a brewery I have not visited in a state I have not visited whose beers I have never tried thanks to the rules of distribution and my continuing amateur status keeping me within a certain circle. When I wrote my bit, I mentioned that Andrew blogs about being a brewer and about his brewery and I also mentioned that in doing so he represents something new and so far fairly rare: a brewery reaching out past the great craft beer to start a conversation with fans like me. So I asked Andrew to tell us more about why he blogs and what it means. Here is his response:
Alan asked me to write a little something about our blogging exploits here at Flossmoor Station after I thanked him for mentioning us in the most recent issue of Great Lakes Brewing News. Flossmoor Station was started back in 1996 back when that series of tubes that we would come to know as the internet was still lots of dancing .gif files and yahoo looked like this. Many brewpubs were getting their start in the mid 90's and webpages were not the main way of getting in touch with their patrons. Flash forward to 2007 and the internet is prime realty for craft beer.I have no idea why I picked that picture of the hardhat moment. But I did. Thanks Andrew. That is great and I hope to find your mid-West brews someday here in the east end of Lake Ontario. Maybe I need a road trip to the west soon.
I came to Flossmoor when Matt Van Wyk (our head brewer) was between assistants in April of 2005. Matt and I have known each other for about 10 years now because he used to teach Science in another life, and I was one of his students in Middle School and in High school. After about a year of working at Flossmoor I was looking for other ways to be involved at the brewery and ways to get information out to the public about our beer. We both read the two main beer rating websites far too often and post on both when it pertains to Flossmoor.
Our website at Flossmoor was and is still run by a third party and updates are painfully few and far between. I proposed the idea of starting a blog to Matt and he was all for it. I was interested in a way to keep our customers updated on our beers and general goings on at the brewery but not interested in learning a programming language to do it. I started small with an up to date tap list of our house and seasonal beers, pictures of stuff that we do, and just went from there. My background before brewing was in film, and I have a BA in film from Columbia College Chicago with a concentration in cinematography. I post a lot of pictures that I take from beer events we go to, mug club tappings, and fun stuff that Matt and I get to do during the day that most people don't get a chance to see.
Right after I started I sent an e-mail out to the Brewer's Association's Daily forum to see what kind of feed back and opinions that I would get from the brewing community. They were overwhelmingly positive and encouraging with some good tips from other brewer's who blog like the guys from St. Arnold in Texas. We have been featured and crossposted on Appellation Beer, Brookston Beer Bulletin and Realbeer.com's Beer Therapy. We were even fortunate enough to have a haiku written about Beer Haiku Daily one of our beers on Beer Haiku Daily . Blogging about beer is at the point now where that there are so many blogs worth reading it's difficult to follow them all. I often check out really simple BEER syndication run by the same saintly beer fan who also created the quintessential Beermapping.com. RSBS is basically a rss conglomeration that makes it easy to keep tabs on the frequently changing face of beer blogging.
That brings me to an important point that some blogs seem to over look. If you don't have time to keep your site updated on a regular basis, don't bother. A blog to me is about quick points, fast updates, and changing content. Brewing is full time work, and most brewers don't have the time to sit in front of a computer to churn out anecdotes for their fans. That's why blogging is better than updating a traditional website because it's quick, easy and once you get the hang of it can make for great reading. I think blogging is a great way to show some personality and an even better way to stay connected to your fan/customer base. I don't pretend to know the future of brewer's who make the time to write about work on the internet, but our little blog is fairly popular with our customers and others across the country. I can only imagine that as time goes on, more brewer's will test the blog waters or find other ways of connecting to beer drinkers via the internet.