A Good Beer Blog


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."


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Alan -

Ron has added his views on the subject of beer blogging and point, too.

Stephen Beaumont -

Um, exactly how has he nailed it, Alan?

Alan -

I think you need to describe what you are in disagreement with rather than have me guess.

Stephen Beaumont -

I'm not so much in disagreement as perplexed. From my reading of the post, Andy seems to pose a question in his headline and then spend some 2,000 or so words not answering it, save to point out that he's better/luckier than the rest of us in that he has a well-paying day job he enjoys.

Alan -

Well, I don't disagree with your comment but what I think he "nails' (remembering that I think I did a decent job above disavowing my relationship with the phrase "he nailed it") is that there are a lot of false hopes around beer blogging that are subject to being stoked. He references my own complaining (who doesn't or shouldn't) about the status of beer bloggers, he points to the mugs game of ratings and also that odd conference which is something that would have gone on in 2004 or so in relation to blogging generally.

Maybe I am sympathetic based on being here before. Before I was known as a beer blogger, I was a Canadian political blogger and was, glory be, actually paid during the 2006 election to blog for the CBC. I was actually courted by both the Mother Ship and CTV. It was a bubble and Canadian political blogging has largely disappeared. Sure there are columnists who call their columns blogs but all the amateur voices have pretty much gone away.

So, when Andy expresses the sort of doubts and frustrations about the place and viability of beer blogging, I hear it with that sort of experience. I also have tempered my criticism of beer writing generally through the respect I have gained for the hard slog that the guys have who are the full time pros like you, Lew and Stan and others. And while you blog, it does make a difference that you live on your writing and words. I do too but only 5% of it relates to beer. Thank God for roadwork contracts and electricity regulation reviewing.

I think Andy chastened me through his post in relation to the thoughts I had in this proceeding post. And I am not sure that this is just the same old meta blogging. There was something about it that echoed questions in my mind. That may be the chunk of wood he fixed to another piece of wood for me.

Stephen Beaumont -

Ah yes, well as you note implicitly in the last line of your preceding post, context is everything. (And so is balance, but that's a matter for a later date and post.)

I have to say that I blog for a very simple reason: I want to! (I also blog for money, but that's hospitality industry stuff.) In my day to day, I come across loads of info that I can't fit into any of my traditional, paying outlets, but which I wish profoundly to share with the world because I think it's important. Will 10 people read it? Will 100 or 1,000? I don't particularly care, because it is the act of dissemination that gives me the juice. A comment from time to time is nice, too, but hardly vital.

The blogging that bores me generally falls into two classes: 1) Near-illiterate ramblings about things the writer barely grasps; and 2) Hand-wringing over the whys and hows and wherefores. I hope I have been seldom guilty of the former, although I will confess from time to time to the latter. It is perhaps a character flaw I must struggle to correct.

BTW, in addition to the writing and talking, I also do a fair amount of front line work, consulting from companies from Disney to Toronto's F.A.B. Concepts. And let me tell you, aside from having to accept and deal with the front-line realities of what shifts the most kegs and what does not, getting beers like Duvel and Dale's into Disney's ESPN Zone sports bars is as satisfying as anything else I accomplish in my day-to-day activities, even blogging.

Alan -

That is a good point - I am the last guy to say "I do all this to build community" but I do love getting a one to one connection with someone who is an position to influence a marketplace and assist that person in making a good profitable business decision that also increases access to good beer. As you know, the retail / wholesale shopping side of good beer interests me greatly and is one area I might actually like to move into as a part time side business if I could ever figure out how.

BTW - I was thinking of you and my utter hypocrisy about pairing last night as I had moose/beef shepherds pie and one of those new to the LCBO La Chouffee. The LCBO needs to add "hunting" as part of their seasonal selections program.

Jeff Alworth -

The frame of this discussion--and Andy's post, which really depresses me--is framed in a very particular way that defines the pre-defines beer blogging so it is certain to be regarded as a failure or vanity. If the question is: is beer blogging a good career move for the budding writer, I think the answer is a qualified (but only qualified) no.

If the question is authentically, why blog about beer? There are quite a few obvious answers, along the lines of it being an enjoyable topic to write and read about. Why do people write about anything? I have a decent unpublished novel that I wrote with the near certainty it wouldn't get published. People write about their cats, knitting, Lady Gaga, and the Detroit Lions, and you could just certainly wonder why on those counts.

There are a half dozen serious beer bloggers in Portland, and I think I'm the only one who really takes it halfway seriously. I'd love to (and am actively trying to) secure a book deal. Everyone else just loves beer. Half of them are quite successful in professional careers (techies, professors, etc). To try to shoehorn their interest in bloggng into the cramped frame you and Andy have selected doesn't make sense.

Not to be too wild-eyed here, but I think that, far from hitting any nails on any heads, you and Andy have really missed the point.

Jeff Alworth -

Sorry about that garbled first sentence. I have a character flaw that compels me to read what I've written only once it has been committed in perpetuity to the internet. The garbled part should have read "...is framed in a very particular way that pre-defines beer blogging so it is certain to be regarded as a failure or vanity."

Alan -

"...is framed in a very particular way that pre-defines beer blogging so it is certain to be regarded as a failure or vanity."

I am not sure that it was intended to be and I think I asserted the opposite in the post of mine that triggered Andy's thoughts but I do see your point. You should, however, read my post first before his. Because I was writing about how I like one aspect of blogs.

But not all aspects. As I said above, I do not hold an entirely comfortable relationship with either beer or blogging. There is a self-reflective aspect to this and I think that is inherent in blogging. These are personal essays. Communities? I really have no idea what that means. So I don't go there.

My blog isn't really leading anywhere, either. At this point I don't want a book deal (couldn't leave home to properly promote it anyway), I don't want to be a trade journalist (boring editors) and I don't want to be a brewer (who needs those hours). I just want to drink out loud. I want to have good beer and to write creatively about it and the trade and the unspoken assumptions and, yes sometimes, the skeletons in the closet. I like picking up the guitar and shaking it until the pick falls out. I miss playing soccer and slide tackling. I often tilt the pinball machine.

I like my blog. I like my blog maybe more than I like writing on it. I like the Xmas photo contest, the samples and the little lumps of money for the little ads. I'd like more of those ads, actually. But most of all I like my blog because it is my place. A conference, a fest, a brewery, a store and a beer bar? Those are other people's places.

Bruce Ticknor -

Alan, The last bits of this comment really summed things up for me. I run BeerTaster because "it is my place". I am going to drink these different beers anyway. It's what I do. I might as well write about them as I drink them, it makes me feel like I have a reason for doing it even though I know I would do it anyway.
If someone else cares what I think of a particular beer I am perfectly willing to tell them (usually until they tell me to shut up). I always think that there is a chance that one or two people who read the drivel I write might actually try a new beer, find a good one and desert the legions of fizzy yellow water drinkers. But if it happens I will never know and it doesn't really matter anyway.

Alan -

You know, I wrote that off the top of my head. Maybe even pulled it out of my ear. But you know what? I like my blog. I have no idea why others read this stuff. I am honoured and a little embarrassed when others say such nice things as I a mjust a guy in a basement watching the TV.

But I like my blog. I want that on a t-shirt.

Stephen Beaumont -

I want "Drinking Out Loud" on a t-shirt. Maybe I'll steal it as a slogan. Good line, Alan.

Pertinent to this conversation is something that just occurred at World of Beer. I'm prepping for my first-ever beer trip to Brazil later this month, and within the context of how that country's sales appear to be buoying AB InBev's bottom line these days, wrote about it here. This resulted in a slew of hits from Brazil and this comment:

"Hi Stephen, I'm Marco Falcone, the person opening a bottle in the picture. I think that your post is very important for our Brazilian beer movement. Thank you!"

So with that one post, in some small but not inconsequential way, I made a difference. That, too, happens occasionally as a result of blogging about beer, and it makes me feel good.

Alan -

I got a million of them. How is it that I have never been head hunted by an ad agency? Surely to God there is someone out there reading all these posts and seeing what pure nuggest of gold there is to be found.

So, maybe you are going to be the Doctor Livingston of Brazilian craft beer. That would be very cool. Save Peru for me. Nah, go ahead and discover Peru as well. I'll never get there. Some kid will need his nose wiped.