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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Travis -

Interesting observation. I never envisioned my blog as a means of making money and to date, it hasn't. My pay thus far has been good feedback and a solid network of other brewers who just love brewing. I have considered putting advertising on my site, but I have always stayed away because this is supposed to be fun. Different strokes for different folks I suppose, but I really saw mine as a public brew log that would allow me to get input back from people smarter than me(though unfortunately I have been getting a bunch of useless info from the guys as MNB, but that's besides the point)

Alan, to your point about the number of times that one can write about a recipe, or the number of times that some one can review a beer, I would offer to you that as the beer blogging community grows, so to do the opportunities to capitalize on the increased eyes. For everyone that has seen a review of DFH 90 IPA there are millions of people that have never tried it.

Bloggers should not see themselves splitting pieces on a pie that is finite in size, but instead it is an ever growing pie as more people come in to take a piece. The reason? Different perspectives and increased numbers of people getting into drinking, reading and writing about good beer is good for everyone. The more people that are active and enthusiastic about beer, the more people that are out there getting friends, relatives and neighbors to try craft beer. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Someone coming into your space should be seen as a good thing because it shows that you are speaking and people are listening.

Thats my $.02

Cheers

Alan -

Very good points. My thoughts are not that any of this is bad but there is a marked increase in tensions of a sort. I think it is a sign of a hearty discourse.

Travis -

Mmmmm...hearty discourse

Jon -

Speaking only for myself, I'm having a great time, not feeling any tensions or unhappiness in what I'm doing. I'm on the side of "lighten up already," if I have to choose sides...

<blockquote>"One thing that I think is going on is there really isn't that much to talk about. How many times can the story of IPA or porter really be rewritten? How many points of view can there be on the buyout of Scottish & Newcastle? How many reviews of Dogfish Head 90?"</blockquote>

I don't know, I tend to think there's <i>much more</i> to be talked about than people realize, far beyond the obvious stuff you mention. (But there's a place for that, too, particularly for people new to beer who want to learn more about it.) I think the potential is there, waiting to be mined.

<blockquote>"Another might be that there are too many jostling for the carrot of the dollar that accompanies beer commentary. I mentioned it to Lew a long time ago now that, for an industry worth so many billions, there is very little money in the discussion of its product."</blockquote>

I don't think there's too many jostlers; I agree with Travis that's it's not a finite resource. You're right, of course, in that there seems to be little money in the <i>discussion</i>; but whose to say <i>just</i> discussion has to be the end of it? It's not just beer writing/blogging, it's blogging in general that's facing this issue. I think other avenues of revenue have yet to reveal themselves, but I'm not the one to predict what they are...

<blockquote>"And there is the related question of whether the seemingly pre-ordained pecking order of beer scribes will be maintained. Does one have to prove that the title of authority is deserved?"</blockquote>

Lobbing a bomb, here, Alan. ;)

<blockquote>"Does the promise of Web 2.0's take on Beer 101 mean that some retirement plans or capital investment schemes are now having to be re-evaluated?"</blockquote>

<i>Is</i> there a Web 2.0 beer site out there? I suppose BeerAdvocate and RateBeer come close...

I think another pertinent question is, what's the Long Tail of beer?

<blockquote>"You know, we all have our dreams but what if yours are bumping into mine? Are these the questions underlying this winter of our discontent?"</blockquote>

Ah, no worries, mate; there's always room at the bar.

And I don't know if it's a "winter of discontent" with a bigger problem or just Seasonal Affective Disorder. I suspect the latter, but like I said at the beginning, I'm not feeling it... I think the field is wide open and the potential is unlimited and... well, I'm optimistic.

Great post.

Alan -

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Didn't you know there was a rule about not mentioning "The Long Tail"??? ;-)<p>The odd thing about the web is that it has the opposite effect, it creates the homogenization of opinion. You can see this in beer nerd sites by the race for the few: we all must have Lost Abbey and Westvleteren 12. In political blogs, it shows up with the screaming lack of subtlety, the approval of only one or two positions.<p>But I am also optimistic as I am really noticing the crankiness of others in the post, yet I do think that there is a next level of discourse perhaps going to open up. I am waiting for some real push back from brewers, for example. Being a positivist, I rarely receive firm reaction from the makers of my ale - but I have had one brewer, when at the outset of a visit to his place I mentioned I wrote about beer on the web, ask if I was on "HateBeer" and if I was he was not about to spend any time with me.

Ron Pattinson -

Running out of things to say? Not quite yet, as my last post proves:

http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2008/01/my-new-bookcase.html

There's still plenty more to say about Porter. Really. I trhink we shoukld keep retelling the story until we get it right.

What exactly is the pecking order of beer scribes? (And - more importantly - where am I in it?)

Knut Albert -

Hey, I want to know about the pecking order, too.

There are days when I'm not too inspired, but, on the whole, there are always new things to cover.
But I don't tend to do much in the way of beer reviews any longer, they would mostly be in the connection of posts about pubs or breweries.

Sure, I'd like to write for money, but there are no tempting offers as yet, and I cannot even legally get review bottles of beers sent from abroad!

When you look at the mainstream press, particularly in the US, the beer coverage has improved a lot over the last few years. Food and travel writers get in touch with bloggers to find new angles for their stories, too. I don't think this is the end of beer writing, rather the opposite.
As for craft brewers, they should make sure there is a respct that goes both ways. If you cultivate the beer community, you can get valuable feedback from consumers who really know what you are talking about. At the same time, don't expect the bloggers to do free research and marketing for you!

Bailey -

I can only say that we certainly don't blog with the intention of making any money -- we do it to give a bit of focus to the beer drinking we'd be doing anyway, and because it's fun to have a project.

Alan -

You three aren't cranky at all. So I can only conclude that European winters are not so bad or European bloggers avoid crankiness by not reading other blogs until Monday morning!

Stonch -

I think there's a limit to how readable a blog purely about beer can be.

There's a blog I read with envy about the London restaurant scene written by an American expat. Having followed if for some months, after she linked to me a couple of times and added me to her blogroll (thanks, Technorati) I've begun to see it as something of a model on how to gently drift off topic without straying too far from one's course.

Stonch -

PS. In so far as I am "cranky", it's intentional. I was encouragd by several emails telling me this quote is one of the best things I've written (it was in reference to UK beer festival regulars):

"...all you see are the same old faces, slouching from bar to bar in silence, knocking back as many half pints as they can, engaged in a pained march toward chronic liver failure and the end of their depressing lives"

Alan -

That is pure gold!

Stonch -

Harsh but fair, I thought, but it seemed to put some people's noses out of joint.

Stan Hieronymus -

Alan - I would have commented earlier but I wanted to be as cool as those guys on the other side of the Atlantic . . .

. . . or I was away four days, drinking beer with people who don't necessarily read blogs or beer forums. Kind of changes your perspective.

And in catching up to the scores of blogs on my feedreader (many that don't discuss beer) I came across this interesting line in a wine blog: "Or maybe, just maybe, there are times when wine geeks should lighten up! I mean, how many obsessions can one hobby support?"

So perhaps such discussions pop up in all niches.

And one point about New Beer Rule #8. It is specifically a beer rule, not a life or work rule.

Alan -

But, oh man in the desert beyond the mountains, do I extract the "beer me" from the "me me" to make the rule work that way?

Ron Pattinson -

"I think there's a limit to how readable a blog purely about beer can be."

I never realised blogs were supposed to be readable. Mine's just a handy place for me to store things I don't want to lose.

In order to go more mainstream and boost its readability, I've just embarked upon a "bookshelf series" of posts. Groundbreaking, unique, shelfy, booky. All of those and more.

Alan -

I think readability is one of the only things a good blog or any good writing can offer. Let's be honest. There is a lot of really bad beer writing out there in magazines and in books by people who make a livelihood in whole or in part from that writing. Sometimes it is just due to constraints imposed by the context of editorial desire for writing for a general audience but some are just poor writers. Other authors, happily, clearly have a stylistic gift whether they are talking about beer or not. That is true with any subject.

But that is a separate question from whether one wants to read a large number of points of view written to various degrees of ability about facts related to beer gathered to various degrees of success. I would think each of us has a different level of interest in the digestion of fact and fiction over the fluid itself. But, Ron, you pose. You are a bookshelf poser or even <i>un poseur</i> as your writing is among some of the most interesting both in substance and in style.

Stan Hieronymus -

As I continue my march backward through things unread I find another post that seems to fit in here.

Frpm Pete Brown:

We're all only here for the beer

Wilson -

Not sure if I'm considered one of the cranky ones, but I post my "syndrome stuff" in an effort to keep things in perspective (for myself, as well as for all the beer enthusiasts). It's my effort to generally bend toward the positive.

Lotsa good stuff to talk about. Lotsa subcultures within the realm. Lotsa things to observe and explore. Every blog has it's own character, and while I call mine a beer blog, it's really about life. A better life, with beer as a very important supplement. Many of my favorite blogs (curiously by folks commented above)are about life in many ways.

As I told my students when I used to teach: "Don't just say it (a story, novel or poem) sucks. Tell me how it sucks and why it sucks." IMO, the better geeks, enthusiasts and advocates are the ones exploring the how and why.

Wilson -

^ (and offering encouragement and solutions)

Great post, Alan

Alan -

Certainly! Good words, Wilson.

Alan -

Just for completeness, look at this thread on a beer forum. The person defending Sam Smith Nut Brown is its importer. Discontent indeed.

Roger -

As far as beer reviews go, I write mine just for me. I know that every beer I've had (in my very beer-limited area) has already been written about many times over. I like to write my own thoughts, put it on my blog and then go compare the silly thoughts I had to the real professionals. So, it's an educational thing for me. I learn about beer styles as I go. It may be boring for others, but whatever. I'm used to that.

I also like to blog about the newest bits of info on the brewery I and a friend are working on. It's never very much, but I like to chronicle the experiment.

Writer's write, nolens volens. It's just the way we are.

Hey, thanks for the cool beer site, by the way. This is one of the first I found and I try to keep up as much as possible. It's actually kind of fun not knowing what you're talking about at times. It makes me surf through the archives to catch up.

There was mention of beer rules in some of the comments. Please take a moment and visit my website, bottledllama.com. It lists what I believe are the only Three Beer Rules that are important. Of course, I am a biased jerk, too.

Beer Rules!