Why blog about beer?
Andy Crouch, a beer writer with a blog on the side —Beer Scribe— asked this question and received several thoughtful and several heated responses (not mutually exclusive). Ron Pattinson —a beer historian in the UK— answered that he enjoys writing and that doing so keeps memories alive.
There are currently 595 "citizen beer blogs" —unaffiliated with a brewery or other business— active in North America. Nearly one hundred of their authors attended the inaugural Beer Bloggers Conference this past weekend in Boulder, Colorado. The event was organised by Zephyr Adventures, the same folk who host a Wine Bloggers Conference. The guest host blogger was Ashley Routson, better known as the Beer Wench.
In addition to brewery tours, beer tastings, etc., the agenda included presentations on
- Beer journalism: beer bloggers & the print media
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Blogging & technology
- 'Craft' beer and women
- Why beer bloggers are important to the 'craft' beer movement
Allan Wright of Zephyr Adventures responded: We will have two conferences in 2011, one in Portland, Oregon and one in London. See the www.BeerBloggersConference.org blog for the overview of this announcement with more details coming soon. [To be hosted by Mark Dredge of Pencil and Spoon.]
Andy Crouch wondered about the meta-vanity aspect of beer blogging (or blogging in general).
Why should one tell the world what he or she has done or thinks? Would it be to hear one's voice echoing back, readers congratulating the blogger's perspicacity? Or would it be to cheer-lead for the 'craft' beer industry? Or to repeat stories without analysis or fact-checking? Those could indeed be the basis for blogs, if ultimately boring and self-serving.
Blogs worth reading are diametrically different than that. They stitch together intellectual honesty, clear writing style, unique points-of-view, and well-researched narratives. Being about or written for a certain company or product is not an ipso facto demerit. Many 'citizen' bloggers are promoting themselves as brands. The key here is for the blogger to be transparent, that is, clear and honest, as to his or her affiliation and intent.
As Ron Pattinson elaborated:
This is my blog. I can, and do, write whatever the flip I want. That's why blogging is so much better than proper journalism. Where some twat tells you what to write, then changes it anyway. No-one, neither editor, nor proprietor nor advertiser stands between me and thee.
Once these conference bloggers recover from their jet flights back home (and their beer flights at the conference), here's what I, as a reader and blogger, would like to see:
- Usable analyses of the sessions. Transcripts?
- Technical assistance; the nuts and bolts of hosting, formatting, html, web-tech, etc.
- How to make money with a blog, that is, become 'affiliated,' if one would wish to.
- Smaller, localized groups of beer bloggers.
A couple of years back, I, and a couple others, organized a loose consortium of beer bloggers in the Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia area. We haven't done much with it. Ideas?
- Work to improve the quality of beer reviewing.
There are many beer reviews posted online. Some are so fanciful, poorly written, or ignorant of beer-making or beer flavor, that they are useless to anyone wanting an informed opinion on a beer. Writing "This beer is awesome, dude," just doesn't make the grade.
- More links to useful beer information —for readers, consumers, bloggers themselves, and for brewers.
I blog because I love a good beer. That some people read what I post is not the entire point but it is the foam on the pint. Here, try this one!
Caveat lector: Even though the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not necessarily those of my employer, I am employed by a beer (and wine) wholesaler: Select Wines, Inc., in northern Virginia.