A Good Beer Blog

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Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


Comments

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tedo -

Alan,
Unfortunately we don't get the BA magazine down in Texas, no idea why, but I haven't been able to pick up a copy to see what I think about it. Agree about Beer, I flipped through it at my local magazine rack and just put it back. I've been reading Draft and AAB for the last few months and would probably put AAB above Draft just for the articles, as the ones in Draft are a bit fluffy (the one on Quaid was probably the best interview piece they've done; and while on Quaid: National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Brokeback mountain, Kingpin).

Lubiere -

I totally agree with your appraisal of Beer. This is meant for the WHASSUP crowd, although, if some can switch over to craft beer, then that's a start. My faves remains AAB and Beeradvocate. I noted that to entice RBers to become premies, they are offering a free subscription to Draft (darned...already renewed my premier membership a few months ago).

For francophones, we also have 2 other magazines to choose from: Bière Magazine , a very France-oriented magazine, (http://www.info-presse.fr/revue/biere-magazine_L2073.htm)

and Bière Passion, the French version of Bierpassie, a Flemish mag which is a promotional vehicle for Ben Vinken and the Belgian Industry, but still, a nice read (http://beerpassion.com/index2.html).

Mario D'eer also used to publish BiereMag, way back when.

Stonch -

I was tempted to subscribe to Beers of the World at the GBBF because the student they'd hired to man their desk was so bloody lovely.

I think Sally Toms would be shocked to hear you say her magazine has a similar audience as my blog, though! I like to think my readers are absolute mentalists who follow the site primarily to keep in touch with Dr. Robbles.

The BeerAdvocate magazine sounds very good. I can't imagine the Alstroms adopting a radically different tone in print so I'd expect it to be suitably irreverent.

Alan -

The BA mag has done a good job of keeping the tattoo and odd facial hair stuff to a minimum. And after all the overblown ads of the other magazines, it is quite a relief visually.

Paul of Suffolk -

I suppose being a CAMRA member I am lucky in that I get two newspaper style magazines, which are both very good. I hope Beers of the World has improved on the first few issues - there were some fundemental errors in those. Apart from that and the local CAMRA freebee 'parish' mags the internet is the only other option here in the sticks. I envy your choice Alan.

I have two questions:
what is a frat ?
would a cold shower suppress a Randy Quaid ? :-)

I'm with you on Stonch's blog

Alan -

"Frat" is short for fraternity, which refers to private university undergrad male residences in the US.

Stan Hieronymus -

Alan - If you owned a brewery which of these magazines would advertise in?

And why?

Alan -

Depends on your location and scale to a large degree, Stan. And I think the better bet for getting to existing craft beer fans for a local brewer in North America is the Brewing News and Ale Street News regional papers. But if I were a new brewer on at least a regional level and wanted to support a magazine and make a difference in the level of buzz about my beer in doing so, I think that I would advertise in Beer Advocate. There is something slightly stale in All About Beer that is hard to put a finger on - too much with the "premium import" ads perhaps.

[Of course, if I was a really wise brewer I would sponsor A Good Beer Blog! Cheaper and better google ranking per post than any other source of information on the net. I can go on...]

Jordan Crouse -

I picked up a Draft magazine at the GABF, and its actually not bad, in a glossy advertising fluffy writing sort of way. They had some good beer desert recipes in the last edition, inspiring me to try a beer ice-cream this next week. I'm thinking Breckenridge Brewery's Vanilla Porter with brown sugar to add a little carmel flavor and maybe a chocolate cookie. Now thats good eatin'!. Back to the task at hand - I wouldn't mind getting Draft in the mail every so often, but I wouldn't want to pay a lot for it.

Stan Hieronymus -

Not to be pimping your blog, Alan, but you make an interesting point.

If I'm new to beer. Maybe somebody who got Lucy Saunders' book for a present and went to learn more, where would a look?

Certainly I'd consider Google.

Were I in Barnes & Noble (mine, at least) I'd notice that Beer (yikes!) and DRAFT have good presence. All About Beer is kind of tucked behind.

Beer Advocate is staying away from newsstands, so how does it reach out to newbies?

And the brewspapers are distributed in the land of the converted. Plus they have the stigma (like blogs) of being free.

Just observations.

Alan -

Stigma! I think that is what makes the newspapers and blogs and forums better.

Adam @ Beer Bits 2 -

I suppose Zymurgy doesn't count being a Home Brew magazine and only tangentially related.

Alan -

No, but it is a goodie. There is another out of Vermont that I relied upon heavily back in my home brewing days called Brew Your Own. These mags are great sources of information about the same ingredients and techniques that craft brewers use.

Keith Brainard -

I too just looked at the beer section at the Barnes and Noble, and picked up Beer, Beers of the World, and All About Beer.

I too am somewhat apalled at Beer. I especially noticed the overall ignorance of the staff in the section at the beginning where they say what their favorite beer is. A few at the end mentioned micros, but besides that one guy said Widmer with lemon, and the rest who would name beer said Guinness. Clearly not the broadest pallets. I could also live without pictures of middle fingers and bikini babes teaching me how to play beer pong.

Beers of the World is too British for me. I guess that probably makes me too American.

All About Beer looks pretty promising, but I haven't made it too far through that one.

My personal favorite is BeerAdvocate. I like the content and the appearance and format of the magazine. I think it reaches out to people through their massive online presence. And I totally agree that this is the best place to advertise a really high-end cutting-edge brewery. For the record, I was never a frat boy.

Draft is OK, it is like Beer but much more readable for someone serious about beer. But still a bit fluffy. But it was cool to have Rusty Wallace in there, and they mentioned an attraction in my hometown (Mystic Seaport - http://www.mysticseaport.org/) as one of the best places to have a beer a few issues ago!

The homebrew ones are also good, but only really for the most part if you actually homebrew. Which I do. I like them both though. I think they're pretty much equal.

Lew Bryson -

You should buy all the beer magazines that I write for...so they can keep paying me.

Might want to take another look at AAB; there's re-design and focus sharpening going on, precisely because of some of the negatives you mentioned.

BeerAdvocate looks great, but I'd like to see more features (as a subscriber as well as a potential writer!).

Never saw Beer, don't intend to, now.

Draft looks good, but I've only seen one issue, and it did seem pretty fluffy. They have a new 'beer director' now, a guy with some real chops, so maybe that will change.

Nothing about Imbibe? I know it's not all beer, but it's a nice mag and does substantive beer writing (I know I'd like to write for 'em).

The beer newspapers? Very good at what they do, especially when the columnists have been covering a beat for a long time.

You want brewer to advertise on blogs? Show me numbers, readers. I don't even know what mine are, and I'm not sure I'd want a big-assed banner ad from a brewer on my blog...I've got enough problems with every braying jackass and his brother claiming I'm biased. I like the independence of the blog.

Alan -

I take the jackass braying bias over the questions from "people closer to me" of how I can possibly afford to run this blog without my sponsors.

I may have been unfair to AAB as they have made a big shift in front end design but I would like a bit more of a shake up in the content. I know we have to have newbie articles but do they always have to be about the history of IPA or porter?

Stan Hieronymus -

Alan - When I wrote asked how does BA reach out to newbies I didn't mean you should have a bunch of Beer 101 articles. I meant how do readers find the magazine when it isn't on newsstands?

I think the challenge for all these publications right now is to serve the diverse audience that is drinking craft beer. It's not only bigger than in 1995, but it is different.

Look how things have changed in little more than a year. DRAFT is considerably different now than the first issue, BA is still feeling its way along (how much better has the addition of Sean Paxton made it?), and AABM has remodeled. I wouldn't be surprised to see thing change even more in the next year.

And Lew, I bet your numbers are as big as your laugh.

Alan -

Very good points. I am not sure how the BA mag reaches out but it is sort of the "poster with the lp" of the BA forum as far as I can see. That is the core subscriber group and, if they can achieve financial stability though that focus, it is an interesting business model. Your earlier point and mine about Google is important. I assume people find new information on the internet now. While I am very suspicious of claims about Web 2.0, I do see the market for most information about beer being a free one. That is why sponsorships and ads are so important. THe BA mag is essentially supported by the patrons of that web-based community. If I was a beer mag or trade newspaper I would make sure I had an active and interesting web presence...and hire someone skilled to run it.

Chavez -

Nice article on the mags Alan. I bought my first magazine, which was the "Beer" mag. Yes I bought it! I was on lunch break at a Barnes and Nobles and unfortunately did not flip through it enough. But, again, in its defense it is only the first issue. Who knows where they may go with it. The funniest thing about the first issue were the two articles with pictures of models drinking craft beers. That's funny. Models don't drink craft beers...not even sure they even drink beer. But, sometimes I like to read fluff!

Looks like I will have to get a subscription to Beer Advocate. Again, thanks for the article.

Troy Burtch -

Great idea for a post. I have bought and read all the magazines mentioned with the exception of BA and I agree with theh majority of people that BEER was the worst of the bunch. I personally enjoy ALL ABOUT BEER the most as the writers are creditable and informative. I really like the new layout too. The sexiest bartender raised my eyebrows as it was out of place in the mag. DRAFT is good to. A good magazine for a beginner to get some information and have a little fun reading it.

TAPS beer magazine will be coming out in December featuring all Canadian Content.

Stonch -

Lew, your post kinds of assumes taking an ad from a brewer compromises your independence. Not so. I've carried an ad from Zatec in the Czech Republic for four months now and I haven't mentioned it once. I mentioned White Shield, who also advertise on my blog, only in the context of having bought a vintage bottle of it on Ebay.

Stonch -

"The beer newspapers? Very good at what they do, especially when the columnists have been covering a beat for a long time."

Sadly I'm not sure that's true. I can only speak from UK experience, but some of the people who have been writing the longest are the laziest and least inspiring.

Alan -

The North American papers I am referring to are more like neighbourly news that you get in a regional weekly paper, Stonch. Plenty of voices, a drinker's focus and very local in their content. I should mail you an example as they are pretty interesting as a media phenomena. Maybe they just do not exist there.

Lew Bryson -

Stonch,
<i>I</i> don't necessarily assume that an ad compromises your independence; re-read what I said. It's those other bastards who <i>think</i> it does that are the thorn in my side.

If I did take an ad, I'd probably feel duty-bound to explain to the advertiser that I wouldn't be mentioning their products while the ad was up there. But that wouldn't stop people from assuming that I'm on the take.

Lew Bryson -

Yeah, Stonch, I actually meant the regional newsy kind of column. I used to write the mid-Atlantic column for Ale Street News, did it for over ten years. I knew every head brewer and a lot of the assistants, I knew owners, I knew bar managers. When something happened, I knew it, and shared it, within the limitations of my word count. Lots of other guys like that in the Brewing News stable.

Alan -

Lew - that is exactly how I feel about the beer magazines, their columnists and their big ad runs except it is far more obvious with the beer magazines that they are entirely dependant on the higher levels of the beer trade. I can only presume every fluff piece, every unwarranted good review is associated with the revenue stream.

That is what is interesting with the Beer Advocate's apparent greater reliance on subscription. Conversely, the beer newspapers have so many ads from so many different small businesses that no one could exert that control.

Stonch -

In the UK CAMRA produce local magazines and papers across the country. Some are better than others. The London Drinker - which I've written for a couple of times - is very good but then it does cover a whole city of over 10 million people! Others are fairly poor.

Robert T. -

Very interesting review. Obvious that its a little biased since you subscribe to BA, though... and regarding the advertising question, the only way for advertisers to make money is to reach the greatest number of people possible; therefore, the best bets are AAB and Draft.

Rick -

Alan, thank you for this post. A question was just posted today at the Craft Beer Radio message board asking about beer magazines, must be the week everyone is getting theirs in the mail - I've posted your link for that board to refer to. As the new director of beer content for DRAFT, I truly appreciate the insight provided by the post and comments. I may just have to print these and study them a bit more.

Did I miss it, or was Celebrator not mentioned in this? I suppose that falls under the 'papers' category, no? They certainly deserve a nod for their content and their overall involvement in the industry.

Alan -

"<i>Obvious that its a little biased since you subscribe to BA...</i>"<p>No bias at all. I paid for the subscription just as I buy the others off the shelf. If it sucked I would say so and not renew. <p>Rick: give me a shout anytime on your new gig - happy to give positive criticism anytime. And the Celebrator was not included as I have no access to it here in eastern Lake Ontario.

jimmy -

BA is definitely the best of the bunch, but those guys need a better editor. That mag is riddled with typos. Great content, needs some polishing.

Daniel Bradford -

I want to thank you all for the comments about our magazine, All About Beer. It's great hearing where we've scored and where we've missed the mark. (Sexy bartender, oh well thought it might be a laugh.) We continue to evolve AABM to reflect the desires and passions of our readers and appreciate both the kind words and the creative input. Drop me an email if you'd like and I'd be happy to "talk" magazine work. We're always trying to grow and evolve. You should have seen what this mag looked like 28 years ago. (For that matter, you should have seen what I looked like 28 years ago. On second thought.) Again, thanks for the comments. We appreciate them, including yours Lew!
Daniel