Pos-i-tiv-i-tay. That is really what I am known for, right? The cheery voice for good beer and, let's be honest, the good life. It's a bit like that 1980-90s TV program "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" around here... except for all the riches and, you know, the fame. But that is neither here nor there - because of what 2011 gave that part of my happy life that connects with beer and brewing:
♦ I have met more young brewers than before. Whether it is because I am approaching some sort of elder statesman status in beer blogging, in addition to being at events I can even think of at least four young brewers who went out of their way to get in touch and stop by my town to say hello for the first time and share a beer. Their excitement for brewing feeds mine. Their interest in my writing for what it is worth, well, is one of the best returns on investment I have known.
♦ It has been an extraordinary year for beer book publications. The Oxford Companion to Beer has proven to be a great gift to us all. It has done more to spread the word and opened more doors to thinking about beer than anything since, if I do say so, the beginning of beer blogging. And I am still not sure it was even the best book of 2011.
♦ I finally settled on a set of "go to" beers that I am comfortable buying without a secret fear that I am missing something in the craft seasonal or anniversary beer that I passed by. Hanssens gueuze, Saison Dupont, Sixpoint Bengali Tiger, Narragansett Porter, Charlevoix Dubbel are all beers I buy again and again. I am sure there are more. They teach me more each time I have one or share them.
♦ Speaking of sharing, I gave away more beer than ever. People talk about building community or spreading the word - but for me there is no better thing to do with good beer than to just give it away. I think I gave away at least 40 bottles or cans worth, if I am crassly counting on my fingers, over $300 in the few weeks before Christmas. Try it. It works.
♦ Finally, participatory serious thought about beer has propelled me into three separate initiatives. Again, we have had the annual Christmas photo contest and never was it so smooth and friendly an event - with many shockingly good entries. In addition, I was asked to help with the seminar series for the next Beaus Oktoberfest and my mind is a whirl of ideas about topics and methods of presenting information and discussion. Would a worldwide video panel of talking heads really work? And, of course, the OCB wiki has been an absolute treat. Watching old email pals and new voices fill this odd thing I created with gems of nerdy beer thoughts of all sorts has been a revelation. Rather than being as some fools thought a condemnation of The Oxford Companion to Beer, it is a celebration and an affirmation that there is, simply put, a wealth of knowledge about this stuff.
There is more. Simon as perhaps the new Stonch in particularly cheers us all. All the regulars in the comments have again propped me up and given me insights as well, if things pan out, maybe even opportunities. Running into other beer writers in my few trips out of the basement - guys like
Tory... err... Troy, Jordan and even Mr. B - has been just fun.
2011? It's been a very good year. What was great for you?