This past Friday, 28 September 2012, I marked a milestone on Yours For Good Fermentables. It was ten years earlier, on 28 September 2002, that I had posted my first entry.
I didn't say hello to the world that morning at 6:11 am; I just jumped right in. The first post was Brewed in Space, a link to a story about the effects of weightlessness on yeast fermentation. I would post only eight more times that year.
The first five years went like this...
- In 2002: 9 posts. (Prorated for the year, there would have been 35 posts.)
- In 2003: 13 posts.
- In 2004: 17 posts.
- In 2005: 21 posts.
- In 2006: 36 posts.
The second five years have gone like this...
- In 2007: 380 posts.
- In 2008: 441 posts.
- In 2009: 340 posts.
- In 2010: 211 posts.
- In 2011: 169 posts.
- In 2012: 121 posts. (At this rate, the count at year-end will be 162.)
What have I written about? 74 posts have been about wine. That's 4.2% of the total. Whisk(e)y and spirits were the focus of 15 posts (0.5%). I've posted 65 times (3.6%) on vegetarianism; on cheese, 58 times (3%). Cask-conditioned ale? On that, I've written more than 209 entries (11.8%). There are other posts, in small percentages, about this and that, flotsam and jetsam, but the remainder, the biggest chunk by far, has been about beer.
During the first five years, I posted sporadically and miscellaneously. Then, in years 2007 and 2008, YFGF transmogrified into a beer travelogue, as I sold the beers of Clipper City Brewing up and down the southeastern seaboard of the United States, and wrote about it. Since leaving the brewery's employ in late 2008, I've posted more on the local beer scene of Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, home base to YFGF. At the same time, my posting has become more beer-universal. I'm writing a lot now on the nature of beer, on beer culture, and on the overall business of beer. Some posts are advertisments for events; some are links to others' stories; some are short-form notes; some are analytic essays; and some are (good-natured) rants.
That's a decade of blogging about beer. Back in 2002, how many beer blogs were there? Very few. But, what does it all mean? In the big scheme of things: not much. I'm just one man drinking beer. I still struggle with writing well. I still dangle unattached adverbs at the start of sentences. But, oh, those beers!
In 2002, there were 1,457 small, local, and independent breweries and brewpubs operating in the United States —what the Brewers Association refers to as "craft breweries." Today, there are over 2,000. That's more than ever before in the history of the nation. Some of these brew good beers, some bad, but many of the beers are interesting, and many are downright delicious. And, the majority of them, a trove of beer, I may never have the opportunity to taste.
During those ten years, I've seen more and more good beer —okay, craft beer— move into every corner of the nation, from specialist shops and pubs to convenience stores, malls, and corner bars. It has become 'main-streeted.' Isn't that —exceptionalism as the norm— our goal?
So, why have I written YFGF for ten years?
It's certainly not about the money. I make only pennies from the ads placed by Google AdSense.
One thing I haven't done much of is to post reviews of beers. That's been done to distraction by too many others —often as incomprehensible drivel. If I like a beer, I may mention it. If I don't, I won't. The number of my reviews over 10 years? 117 (that's 6.6% of the total number of my posts). I've preferred to respect the personal palates of my readers. And, this is important. If ever I post about a beer I sell, or in which I have a stake, I mention that connection, very clearly. Without ethics in blogging, readers' trust is violated, and a blog becomes irrelevant.
I've been a brewer in my career, although not so for several years now. These days, I'm selling beer for a living, but the yearning to brew professionally remains an intimate part of my make-up. Thus, I don't refer to myself as an "ex-brewer." Rather, I regard myself, wistfully, as "brewer without portfolio." I think my career has given me insight into understanding and empathizing with brewers, and, if needed, criticizing.
Among those two-thousand breweries open today, there are many that may never achieve nationally heralded rock-stardom. That omission is not necessarily a measure of the quality of their beers or skill of their brewers, but sometimes, rather, a matter of luck, of demeanor, and of geography. Furthermore, there are many worthy breweries that have long ceased operations, and there are some brewers who are no longer with us. My blogging about them inscribes their names into the permanent record of the internet.
So, the question remains: why do I blog? Simply put, it's because of those brewers and their beers, and that is a humbling thing. For me, beer has been the journey, not the destination. And, what a splendid journey this decade has been. Now, with good fortune, I'm on to the next. As Walt Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass
- I began posting photos to Flickr in 2006. To date, I've posted 10,483 'public' pictures.
- I joined Twitter in 2008. Since then, I've 'Tweeted' 9,120 times. That's 5.5 Tweets per day. As my frequency of Tweeting increased, my frequency of blogging decreased. UPDATE: Another milestone of a sort: on Saturday, 6 October, my Twitter account attained its 2,000th follower.
- More about my career in beer: here.
- Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virgina— I sell the beers of Clipper City (Heavy Seas).