What role do beer writers play in the culture and growth of craft beer? Are we advocates, critics, or storytellers? What stories are not getting told and what ones would you like to never hear about again? What’s your beer media diet? i.e. what publications/blogs/sites do you read to learn about industry? Are all beer journalists subhumans? Is beer journalism a tepid affair and/or a moribund endeavor? And if so, what can be done about it?
Hmmm. As you can imagine my initial problem was the breadth. Stories are broader than writing is wider than journalism. These degrees of abstraction are all co-mingled. Unclear? Andy explains. And, fortunately, others have guided us today over the day with their interpretations of the question. Stan focused on professional beer journalists. Subset times four and, maybe unfortunately, a small part of beer writing. Max spoke to a broader swath of writing but then quickly narrowed to something missing in the discourse. Failure. Given how two dimensional most beer writing is, that is a great first step.
Advice? You will likely read plenty of people telling you one key to good beer writing is avoiding beer review. Rubbish. Watch out for this sort of helpful hint by committee or conference panel. Whatever they advise? Avoid. And you really should avoid beer reviewing because The Beer Nut has already wiped your puny efforts across his sweaty back and chucked them in the trash. Others do it better is the point. Try to get in his shadow if you can. He did again it today and wove in how disappointing most mass media beer writing is these days. Boak and Bailey add some great thoughts including this sharp observation:
...junkets make for bad writing. There are few people who can squeeze worthwhile copy out of being herded round a brewery and plied with food and drink by PR people along with a number of their peers. What results is usually a sudden flood of identikit ‘what we did on our holidays’ articles, often with an eerily-brainwashed Stepford Wives tone.
Calling all Protzy recommendations to travel to Belgium! Another junket awaits!!! Who knows? Maybe there was a beer pairing event on the junket. That would make it even better. Excellent stuff.
Yet... it does still point out what the problem with the question is, doesn't it. It asks us to consider all writing. And, as you know if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, that can be an annoying task. Because so much is not that good. But then you come across an article like this one by Pete Brown in today's London Loves Business. What a great bit of writing. He carries his argument with a positive, confident and informed tone all the while dealing with any number of burdens weighing upon what ever "craft" beer is. Without the smack of the junket's taint. Without hedging his argument to ensure the next interview is granted. Read it.
Which is my point and the only point. What do I want? More of that and far less of much of the rest. Because much of the rest is simply not good writing.