Beer Blogging, To What End?

Every once in a while, I have one of those days where several outside forces converge to reveal a singular theme. Today was one of those days. It started with my re-publishing a piece I wrote for BeerAdvocate Magazine on industry writer Harry Schuhmacher. In response to that article, Alan at A Good Beer Blog released a slightly disjointed response (now cleaned up) that, I believe, took me to task for belittling beer bloggers. In that piece, I wrote of my friend Harry:

Far from a beer blogger, Schuhmacher runs a serious business dedicated to providing the beer industry with inside information and breaking news, a point reflected in his publication’s scorching $480 a year price tag.

Now, this first line wasn’t meant as a jab at beer bloggers. Nor was the contrasting point about Harry running a serious business. But perhaps they should have been. I have long been wary of blogging in general and more specifically when it comes to blogging about beer. I’ve been publishing articles on my website for about eight or nine years and converted to WordPress almost four years ago. From the earliest days, I wasn’t quite sure of the purpose served by websites dedicated to a particular individual’s thoughts on a given subject. For one, as I thought about Twitter and beer, it often devolves into a very self-absorbed activity, focused on such inane, personal details as to interest only the tiniest sub-sections of an already infinitesimally small niche. And that’s fine if that’s your aim, perhaps even therapeutic, like that old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin yells at the night sky, “I’m significant,” only to then think, “Screamed the dust speck.” Wanting to be heard is certainly a relatable aim. But for those of us who are fortunate enough to have access to a greater audience of listeners/viewers/attendees, only the frailest ego would require the faint massaging a handful of readers are able to provide.

This was followed up by the reminder that the first Beer Blogger’s Conference starts in Boulder in a few days. In terms of disclosure, I was invited to speak at the conference and even contemplated doing so after some coaxing from the Harry Schuhmacher referenced above (he hates to drink alone). But at the end of the day, having just been in Boulder a little more than a month ago, and considering that the conference doesn’t help defray the costs of its speakers, I couldn’t justify the expense. I love hanging out and enjoying beers with people in Boulder as much as the next writer, but I had to ask, to what end? The conference will be a vacation for some. For the speakers, it’s work. And unpaid work at that for the non-industry folks.

Moreover, the conference raises some concerns in my mind about beer blogging in general. While I’m certainly interested in hearing what the speakers tell the assembled scribes (and perhaps some audio will be released on-line), I’m perhaps more curious about the topics that likely won’t be covered. As beer blogging grows in numbers/importance/influence (assumed for the sake of this point), folks in the beer marketing trade will take a greater interest in cultivating their attention. Professional beer writers (myself included) have learned the hard way of the challenges posed when the worlds of marketing and writing/journalism intersect. And without rehashing the old arguments about whether bloggers are journalists, I think that we in the beer media and the industry as a whole should be concerned about the ethics of beer writing and the attempted influence of writers by beer marketers. I don’t know whether this will be a topic addressed by the assembled speakers (several of whom are industry marketers themselves), and I know it’s not very fun, but I think it would be an important topic for this first gathering.

The trifecta completed with today’s discussion of the Wikio rankings of American beer blogs. I have to admit, I am rather new to the still-foreign concept of search engine optimization and don’t really understand how this system of rankings actually works. I’ve never paid much attention to the popularity of my web site or the amount of traffic directed there. I did notice the insane spike of traffic the site received after the release of my article, The Good, the Bad, and the Drunk at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival. 60+ comments later, not including Facebook and Twitter forwards, and it was hard to miss. But besides this, as I don’t view these websites as moneymakers, I have never bothered to learn the details of these things.

Now we have Wikio releasing its Top Beer Blogs list. In terms of full disclosure, my website is not listed amongst the top blogs so feel free to write this off as sour grapes. Since the untimely demise of Real Simple Beer Syndication (RSBS), I have had to transition to Google Reader for my online reading needs. After losing all of the blogs listed on RSBS, I decided to cull my list down to what I consider to be necessary reading, about 15-20 blogs. A quick scan of the Wikio list reveals some familiar names that I follow, but I must confess that I do not know three-quarters of the listed blogs. In perusing a few of the websites, their reactions to the news of their inclusion in the Wikio rankings generally range from mild pleasure tinged with a healthy dose of skepticism to downright shock, along the lines of “Get the %&# out!.” Now I’ve never understood the Wikio rankings, nor what a “wikio consultant” is (and why Pete Brown is the latter and whether that’s related to why he is listed as the No.1 beer blog in the UK), but maybe it’ll all be explained in the coming months.

With all this said, I still have to again ask, online beer writing, to what end? To be sure, I can’t imagine that anyone is making any money at this. I can definitively say that I am not, even after trying Google ads and Amazon showcases (the latter being much better but both are a complete waste of time compared to even the least remunerative paying gig). In looking over how beer blogging websites are monetizing their operations (in the parlance of this odd, burgeoning trade), I think perhaps Alan is doing the best job. By all accounts, he has a healthy readership and solicits or accepts sponsors and ads. Out in the blogosphere (another term I hate), we’ve all hashed over the ethical concerns I have that are related to this latter point and it’s not something I care to rehash here. But he still has a day job (as do I) and I imagine he won’t be transitioning anytime soon.

Of the best known American beer writers, I know very few who do it full-time or as their primary profession. Lew Bryson is perhaps the best (and maybe only) example of a professional, full-time beer writer and having spent several hours with him over the last week, I can attest that he has to work his butt off to make that living pay off. In addition to his freelance beer writing and books, he also writes about spirits and edits a magazine to assist. That’s not just smart business, it’s what is required to make it in the beer writing business.

I started writing about beer online, as separate from my paid freelance work, because I was impressed with the early work of writer Jay Brooks. His Brookston Beer Bulletin was the first beer blog I can recall reading and it was smart, at times funny, and was a value-add to the onslaught of sameness coming from all the beer publications of the time (and often of the present). As Alan seems to want, I can only read so much of what new beers are being released and which breweries have added a new tank or of some random writer’s thoughts on the two dozen breweries and pubs he visited on a cross-country trip before I just stop picking up the free publications. Perhaps I am a particular type of media consumer, one very different from the admittedly niche based beer enthusiast. While interesting in theory, most of what goes on over at sites such as BeerNews.org doesn’t interest me. A few years back things were a bit different when it came to special beer releases. More than ten years into the industry, however, and I don’t really care about new releases. There are just too many breweries to keep track off these days.

So why write online? I publish about once or twice a month, having only twice published 10 or more posts (the other being just 11). And a lot of this is recycled content. If there was a secondary publishing market for this material, I wouldn’t release it online. In the days before the Internet, that’s how many freelance writers made their real money, by reselling previously published articles to new markets. To some extent, along the lines of being heard, I think that I post online because I enjoy having a rolling conversation with the well-known industry folks that I have mentioned (and a few that I have not, most notably Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer.

Perhaps writing on-line is a loss leader. But I doubt it for me. It must to some extent help with visibility and book promotion but I’m not sure it is more valuable than Twitter, which is succinct and about nothing if not quick and easy self-promotion. Perhaps a web site helps build brand recognition. This latter term is one I often hear bandied about with respect to beer writers and I don’t quite get it. Not to pick on a particular person, but Ashley Routson of Drink With the Wench is one of the people who frequently talk about building a brand, specifically her brand, the Beer Wench. A few other writers, such as Don Russell (“Joe Sixpack”) and Lisa Morrison (“the Beer Goddess) (both are friends), have also built what I guess can be called brands. Frankly, these monikers have always sort of felt like shticks to me, especially the Wench one (very successful too it appears), which is probably what they are. And maybe that works, I can’t say. My website is called BeerScribe.com but I don’t put myself out there as the BeerScribe as Michael Jackson once did, via trademark by the way, as the Beer Hunter and Whisky Chaser. Perhaps I should but I doubt it. Even by way of promotion, the website seems like a pretty big loss and not much of a leader in terms of effort put forward.

Occasionally I think about how to monetize my efforts on the web and I always remember that very few if any media outlets have figured out that troubling trick. I look at the world of wine writing and wonder whether these folks, so often sources of inspiration and direction for both brewers, marketers, and beer writers, have figured it out. And now I’m thinking about just how much money I’ve lost writing this piece, which has taken me a little more than an hour and a half to research and write.

Every other week or so I get an email from an aspiring beer writer asking how to become a professional beer writer or with a book idea to pitch. And I try to help them as best I can, all while wondering what kind of chance they really have at any type of success.

While I find these issues interesting, I’m not likely to resolve them anytime soon. I am fortunate enough to have a day job that I enjoy at least as much as my writing gigs and I have no intention or interest in giving it all up for the world of beer. That point of distinction does seem to separate me from many on the fringes of the beer industry, be they beer writers, bloggers, or homebrewers aspiring to turn pro.

Then my mind comes back to one guy: Harry Schuhmacher. In an unpublished quote, Harry told me:

Our publication is expensive by design, not blunder. And we don’t accept advertising. As the Internet has made news ubiquitous, exclusive information that you can’t find anywhere else still commands a price. And people are willing to pay for it.

I bet he doesn’t sit around wondering how to monetize his time on-line.

67 Responses

  1. Brilliant. All my own doubts and frustrations laid out before me, authored by someone else. Too much to digest to comment coherently in any way yet… if ever if today’s post is to be trusted.

  2. I can only speak for myself, but I began blogging about beer (99% of the time it’s just beer reviews) because I was starting to try a lot of different beers and wanted to keep a record of them. I would forget if I had tried some beers or forget what I thought of the beer.

    I just enjoy doing the blog, and the fact that a few people read it from time to time is secondary.

    All that said, I’m not quite sure what your point is, here. Or I guess I should say, with no disrespect intended, “This article, to what end?” :)

  3. Thank you for writing this. Before starting my own site earlier this year I spent a lot of time mulling over many of the issues you raised and continue to do so. All I know is my efforts are born from the pure pleasure of meeting many of the fine people I’ve met, from homebrewers to brewery owners, and trying to capture those moments with words and photography. Where it will lead me I have no idea, but its simply fun. P.S. Thank god I have a day job. – Brian

  4. I think beer blogging, and Twitter, are good ways to reach out to people interested in craft beer. Interested in learning about new craft beer, beer events and festivals, and more. Blogs and Twitter are about the >only< place where I find out about new beer releases and upcoming events. Sure there is Beer Advocate but RSS feeds and Twitter streams are, for me, much a more efficient means to digest information.

    I'm like the Beer Snob, I started my beer blog for personal reasons: keep track of new beer I tried, improve my still-life and event photography, and try out this blogging thing. My goals are largely the same but now I've added using Twitter to increase outreach, dissemination of information, and engaging in a conversation. The benefits I have received from beer blogging are being more knowledgeable about craft beer as well as meeting new people and forming new friendships.

    I don't pretend to be a journalist and never have and never will but as a result of this post I'm going to list that explicitly on my About page.

  5. Here’s a good example of how I use my blog and why i can be good. I do a good job of reviewing beer OR taking detailed notes when I’m at home or at a friend’s house but when I’m out I’m still having great beer. I recently decided to start taking 1-2 sentence notes about beers I’m having while out. I can jot it down on my phone discreetly and quickly and return to the live conversation.

    I wanted a place to store this information so I figured I’d stick it on my blog. Within one day of what was a 2 sentence blog post, I received a comment asking where that beer could be found.

    Was this a bad thing? Not everybody is a writer and not everybody approaches or values content the same way a writer might. Sometimes readers just want about beer and where to find it.

  6. Forgive my typos, “why i can be good” should be “why it can be good.”

  7. I think like most of the other people in the comments above. I just recently started to blog reviews about beers because I found that when I’m out, I have my phone with me and I find myself writing down what I’m tasting. Blogs are an easy way to keep track what your opinions and your tasting notes are.

    I think in terms of making money while blogging. Almost all blogs are making money due to ads. It is a fact of life in the blogging world. If you get more visitors, you can get more money for ads or more advertisers themselves. I consider blogging to just be another form of media like anything else but this time more of the management can control is done by the writer.

    Winelibrary.tv is largely successful and it was doing video reviews of wine way before they made it big and made money on the web with this new form of media. I think your concerns are similar to many other bloggers who wonder if this can actually support something and is worth it.

  8. I started writing verysmallbeer.com as a way to occupy free time. I never thought hundreds of people would even begin to care about my thoughts. In fact by blogging I have been invited to events, met interesting people and even got to spend time working in a brewery. Sure none of this is paying off financially, but the pleasure of it, thats the payment. If you do not intrinsically enjoy this medium then why write or read any of it?

  9. Don’t feel bad about the Wikio snub because I ranked #90 but hardly ever post and didn’t even know about the list until I stumbled upon your post. When I do blog I often take pot shots at beer-blogging in general because it’s a ridiculous concept when you think about it. In fact, the only reason I started the blog was to mock beer-blogging. Go figure.

    If it’s any consolation, the 90th ranked beer-blogger who doesn’t really care about beer has put you on his blogroll.

    • I didn’t actually realize the list went past the top 20 until I read your comment. I’ll scratch my head further now.

      Cheers,

      Andy

  10. Interesting, thoughtful post, Andy. And thanks for the kudos. I’m sorry you won’t be at the conference, though I certainly understand. I was similarly reluctant, and Harry’s now not attending either. In fact, I’m taking his place as end of conference keynote speaker.

    The reason I started blogging was essentially twofold. First, I wanted a way to keep track for myself of what was going on in the beer world and, second, wanted a forum where I could simply push myself to write everyday. Having tried NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) a couple of times, I really found that writing daily was very beneficial on a number of levels. And I found that if I did in a public way, e.g. on a blog, it forced me to keep up with it and, perhaps more importantly, made me try to do it better every time on the off chance that someone might actually be reading it.

    Over time, the reason I’ve continued to do it, and even increased the amount I write, is that it’s essentially the only place I can write whatever I want in whatever way I want. I have no editors, advertisers or people looking over my shoulder shaking their heads. I admit that’s not always a good thing, but I love that aspect of it. It’s liberating. I can indulge myself with what I’m interested in or passionate about instead of what a particular publication is looking for or things will sell. With some exceptions, of course, I keep the stuff I write for money and the stuff I write for myself separate.

    As you understandably wonder, to what end? It’s certainly not for money as I, too, have long given up any ambitions of making money online. I do also like the dialogue, which can be interesting and thought-provoking and also lead to new ideas that may be used later in other contexts. Occasionally, someone hires me to do something because they read the blog, and that’s always gratifying and helps justify my efforts, as well. But it’s also a time suck, which can be counter-productive, work wise. Unfortunately, I just enjoy it, which makes it harder to prioritize for me personally.

    Anyway, sorry I won’t be able to share a pint with either you or Harry this weekend, but I’ll be sure a have one for you.

    • Hey Jay-

      The gist of my post was intended to focus on those professional and semi-professional beer writers and why they choose to post on their websites. To the rest (of you), I certainly get why they blog about beer for all the thoughtful reasons stated. I agree that writing online gives us professional writers an outlet for pieces that would otherwise not likely see the light of day. it also provides a quick and easy method for releasing such pieces where traditional markets can take weeks if not months. This may be enough reason to do it. I think I’ve just come to the conclusion that this is probably the only legit reason to do it as the monetization stuff is just a myth (which is funny since it will be addressed at the beer writers conference this weekend).

      Best,

      Andy

  11. “their reactions to the news of their inclusion in the Wikio rankings generally range from mild pleasure…..to downright shock, along the lines of “Get the %&# out!.”

    I guess it’s those moments like when Andy Crouch quotes me above, that give my little writing hobby more significance.

  12. Good points. But a very important dimension is the global community of beer bloggers – besides my fair number of readers, I also interact with other beer bloggers and enjoy that very much.

  13. Okay, if you dislike blogging and writing online so much, I’ll unsubscribe from your feed. It seems pretty clear you don’t really like or enjoy it, and you don’t seem to grasp the medium, either.

  14. Very interesting article. We have recently started receiving requests to buy ads on our site and we are trying to figure out how to do that. I started the blog because I wanted a central location to find out information on the craft beer scene in Nebraska. When I started it, that information was hard to find, especially for those outside of the metro areas. It continues today for that very reason and also as a promoter of Nebraska Craft beer. Unlike some states where the culture is prevalent, most people don’t think of Nebraska as a place to get quality craft beer and I wanted to change that for the brewers, the state and most importantly me so I could get great craft beer distributed and made here. It was and still is a selfish pursuit of mine to better the culture here. I know other people will benefit from a culture improving but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t for selfish reasons I started the blog.

    Whether we will get any advertising on our site will remain to be seen, but we will pursue it. I also think blogs, like ours, are different then what you speak of. We rarely review beer and we rarely have much negative to say about anything and that is by design. It also makes us less relevant and something only a select few people will follow as you have said.

    Great stuff, always good to learn and try to understand what we do.

  15. Maybe I’m reading this as a journalist who makes her living writing, and blogs for supplementary reasons, but you seem a bit occupied with the conundrum of whether a beer blogger can make his or her living solely through that activity. I’m not sure the blogging monetization question is a particularly important one for the industry or its consumers. Not to set your own coverage parameters – I’m not your editor, or wife (just to be clear) – but I would argue that your readers are generally not simply writers, so this POV in this platform is a bit perplexing to me.

    But to address your view on your own terms: I don’t think beer writing and blogging need to be mutually exclusive. I make my living as a writer, whether delivered via print or online, but never as a blogger. I still blog, for other reasons. Branding is one. Enjoyment is another. Plus, you can’t always say what you want to say how you want to say it in publications that pay you to write. On your own blog, you can write however the “%&#” you want.

    But then, back to the larger issue. Making a blog profitable doesn’t make its message any less or more relevant or resonant, as you do allude here. I think that’s the crux in thinking about beer blogging. Indeed, Beer Advocate’s forums act much like a many-authored blog or almost-wiki, and have helped shape the industry to what it is today by incubating hard-core craft beer nerds in a responsive, conversationalist setting … slightly fudged beer styles or not.

    If blogging were only done for money, there would scarcely be any blogs or blog-like mediums at all. And then how would we learn about small, city-specific microbreweries on the other side of the US? How would special release parties like Dark Lord Day reach their fever pitch, spawning more like it around the U.S.? Profitable for their authors or not, beer blogs have helped shape the industry as it looks today, and have certainly incubated demand for craft wares.

    • Hello Jennifer-

      Good points all around. I’m reminded, I believe, of the Samuel Johnson quote, from which I paraphrase, that only blockheads write for reasons other than money. Certainly not an entirely fair representation, but the age of blogging remains a true curiosity for those of us whose professional writing pre-dates WordPress and its like. For professional writers, people who choose to write for money, time spent dwelling on-line is a direct trade-off to paying work. And I’m not sure that is such a good thing, both from a financial perspective, and for the expansion of beer writing into new markets, which more focus could provide.

      Your last graf is perhaps your most interesting and I’m not sure I agree with a word of it. I think the beer ratings website fuel all of these far more than beer blogging (unless, as you note, you necessarily equate the two — I do not.) I think we cannot help but overstate the importance or reach of beer bloggers. It is, in my experience, such an infinitesimally small section of an already under-sized niche that next to no one actually reads them but other beer bloggers.

      Best,

      Andy

      • I had not planned to jump back into this, but I think a point needs to be emphasized among all the noise (and nobody should read into that last word).

        I think you oversimplify several things here. Most importantly, you take a backward reasoning route in saying review sites like Beer Advocate are not blogs. But why? In fact, their form and function is more like a blog than any comparable mediums.

        But even if you won that argument, blogs and blog-like mediums would still have demonstrable value to the craft beer industry. Ask World Class Beverages’ team, which has chosen to sponsor the BBC conference. Their leadership believes that the microblogging platform Twitter, for example, can help convert the some 95 percent of non-craft beer drinkers via its cheap, instant buzz-creating powers. That specific specialty of the medium is proven almost every time a limited beer gets released. Just Tuesday, election day, it was exemplified via Houstonites’ city-wide dash to find Saint Arnold’s Divine Reserve No. 10, with many tapping into Twitter as their electronic headquarters for tips, tricks and retailers gone dry. Trust me, Saint Arnie’s marketing department is interested in that power. So is Three Floyds, or they wouldn’t choose to release their Golden Tickets on the medium.

        To which you might counter: These mediums are obviously platforms for the already converted. But they’re also the default training ground for burgeoning craft beer quaffers, ubiquitous repositories of information and culture to help them assimilate. That’s why I will concede your concern for bloggers’ credibility. But nothing more. So maybe we are betrothed (see zinger in first comment). Where shall we honeymoon? Don’t say Belgium.

        • Hi Jennifer-

          I’m not sure I said BA was not a blog, just that it had a different business model from bloggers. And I agree that everyone is still trying to figure out the value (broad use) of all of these different formats. I think the comments got a bit off-track from the original narrower point of my post but I’ll go along. I don’t doubt that there can be value in particularized uses of the different formats and certainly for Twitter. By way of example, I have followed some local restaurants on Twitter because they inform me of their lunch specials. I don’t visit their websites, however. So I definitely now get Twitter. Blogging is a different animal in my perhaps 1.0 mind. And I also agree with your note that these platforms cater to an already interested audience (as with my lunch Twitter follows). This is especially true, I believe, when it comes to blogs. But these niche audiences are exactly what marketers are looking for. We only have to look to consumer goods (especially women’s products or parenting/baby products) for examples of how marketers have teamed up with bloggers / tried to exploit them for promotional ends. It’s not happening at the same level in the beer world but I expect it one day will.

          Best,

          Andy

          P.S. Choosing to ignore the marriage asides…

  16. Like many others, I originally started my blog as way to keep track of my experiences with drinking, brewing and enjoying craft beer. Over time, more and more people have found my bog and I’ve met a lot of other beer enthusiasts because it. Interest in craft beer has really increased in my area over the last year or two, so I’ve also started posting information about upcoming craft beer events to help spread the word. I’ve never claimed to be a professional journalist or writer or thought I could make a living from it. My “to what end” is simply to help increase interest in craft beer.

    • By the way, your publishing company sent this simple beer blogger a copy of your book for “possible review and/or mention” on my site. I wonder how many other beer bloggers received the same offer.

      • Hey Steve-

        Definitely mention that in the review should you choose to review the book.

        Best,

        Andy

  17. Insightful stuff, as usual.

    Why blog? Self-amusement and sanity. At the end of the day, whatever geeky interests we take on, most of us are just plain old writers. Were happier if we’re writing. My wife will be the first to say that I get a bit edgy if I don’t scribble for a while.

    Why else? To amuse others. To be useful. To keep busy. To “converse” with like-minded people. For mental exercise. To complement or promote our paid work.

    I can think of lots of reasons to blog. But if it wasn’t fun for me, I wouldn’t be doing it.

  18. I write for me, mostly: it’s warming that a couple or three thousand people a week visit my site, but I’d do it if it was only a couple or three dozen a week. I enjoy doing the research for the pieces I write, and I enjoy writing them. That’s enough to encourage me to do it. Certainly nobody would publish those pieces, at the length I want to write them. And in the UK the opportunities to monetise any beer blogging site are vanishingly small, so I’m certainly not in it for the money.

    Incidentally, Andy, your Alexa ranking (based on visitors) is higher than the people at numbers 10 to 13 and 15 to 19 on the Wikio list, so on visitor numbers you’re about 11th best US beer blogger.

  19. I blog, therefore I am. Great points all around. Aside from my beer publication, which is more of a trade journal, I also blog although it rarely involves beer. But I get more enjoyment out of writing my blog than I do than almost anything else, except maybe rogering my wife. Oh, and eating tacos at Jack in the Box. It’s very therapeutic and it also gives me practice in the art of organizing original thoughts into semi-coherent pieces. My blog isn’t even ranked on Wikio so there you have it — I don’t do it for the readers that’s for sure. Anyway, thanks Andy for featuring lil’ ol’ me. Beers on me in Boston.

    Jay I’m glad you’re taking my spot at the Beer Blogger’s Conference — you’re a better speaker than I so they got added value on that trade. I have a wedding and my anniversary this weekend in NY so I had to bag out (rogering the wife again). Sorry I’ve mentioned sex twice in this post — I’ve been travelling for three weeks without respite so you’ll have to forgive me. Boobs (<-sorry again).

    • I fucking love Harry.

    • Harry’s blog is one of the funniest reads anywhere, not just on the Internet. It frequently involves too much information (see his sex comments above), toilet humor, disparaging remarks about friends and family and revealing acts of rebellion. I highly recommend it.

      Sorry you’re not here in Boulder, Harry. But if you would hold still in SA, we could finally get that beer together and perhaps a taco at La Gloria. We’ve got to break you of that What’s in the Box meat paste taco habit you’ve got.

      -Travis

  20. Wow. What a dousing on my little beer-blogging parade. I’m struck with how negative the tone was throughout, not only in the article, but in your responses to several commenters as well.

    I’m not sure why I’m so taken aback. After all, I’m sure there are millions of people who’ve never taken the time to even think about beer blogging, much less write a whole dressing-down of it. But it really comes off to me (very important, that “me” part), as someone in an ivory tower ["That point of distinction does seem to separate me from many on the fringes of the beer industry"] watching poor plebes living their lives and tut-tutting at them. As if simply doing what we enjoy without getting paid is worthy of pity (or is it scorn?).

    Perhaps you aren’t really writing about *us* commoner-beer bloggers. You’re simply wondering why “real” writers would waste their time doing something for free, perhaps.

    I can’t speak to that, but I can speak for myself and what I think commoner beer-blogging is about. It’s a community, really. Not “I wish this was a job.” It’s a group of people who enjoy sharing what they’ve learned and what they think with like-minded people. While several of my favorite beer blogs are written by professionals – Brookston Beer Bulletin, Appellation Beer, and of course Pete Brown – many of the blogs I read are written by men and women who are simply writing about something they love. I read them because they’re either entertaining, educational, or (when we’re lucky) both.

    As for, ugh, I hate this word, “monetizing,” I have to admit, that’s the main reason I chose not to attend the Beer Blogging Conference. I couldn’t justify the cost, because all I’d really want to do is talk about beer, writing about beer, and meeting some cool people. It just wasn’t in the budget. To be blunt, I can’t afford to go.

    But I’m not in this for the money. I’m in it for the beer. And the cool people I’ve “met” in the community. There’s that word again.

    (Of course, now that I realize Jay is going to be there, I’m even more bummed that I’m not going.)

    Now, because I was a writer in the past–a “real” one, by your definition; I was paid to write–I do try to write my silly little missives in a clear manner, with a consistent voice. But the few people who do read my blog do so because I’ve got a review up of a beer they’ve been thinking about trying, or because I’m talking about a local brewery, and they live in the same town.

    It’s about the people. And beer. But mostly people.

  21. Insightful post. I often get asked about why I blog to begin with, and like many other people have already stated, it was to keep track of what beers I’ve been drinking and chronicle my beer related experiences.

    Like many others, I use Adsense and Amazon, but outside of the initial efforts to get them up and running, it’s just not worth the time to optimize. To be perfectly frank, blogging does not pay the bills and I don’t think it ever will. That being said, blogging is “paying” me in the form of new friends, new experiences and the occasional free pint, all of which I find to be priceless in their own ways.

    I decided pretty early on that I wasn’t going to be attending the Beer Bloggers Conference because I just didn’t see the point. I do look forward to seeing the post-event posts and tweets during the conference to see if I was wrong. This post was also the first time I’ve even heard of the Wikio rankings and I’m amused to find myself on the list at all.

    At the end of the day, I blog for myself. If blogging ever got to the point where it just wasn’t fun anymore and felt like work, I’d quit. I already have a day job that pays lousy I don’t need a night job that pays even worse.

  22. Andy,

    Hello, darling. It was only a matter of time until a professional beer writer wrote a piece questioning the importance, value and validity of beer blogs. After all, the beer industry is always a few beats behind the wine industry. And if you know anything about that realm you will know that there is quite a bit of tension between the professional wine writers and the wine bloggers. In fact, Robert Parker has numerous times (and this and check out this video).

    However, I must admit that a few of them are coming around. Case and point: famous wine professional wine journalist, Steve Heimoff, started his own blog and was recently the key note speaker at the Wine Bloggers Conference. Times, they are a changing.

    I happen to be very intimately involved in the wine blogging industry. In fact, I have been studying wine longer than I have beer. Like most bloggers, I came to a point in my life where I wanted an outlet for writing — a hobby, if you will. I was working at a marketing firm at the time, where writing was part of my job (copy writing, the company newsletter, research reports etc…). I love writing, but I wanted to write on my own terms for a change. My first blog was too general and I wanted to focus on one subject. I was only 23 and thought that the wine industry was too pretentious and intimidating, so I chose my other passion — craft beer — because I thought the industry would be more supportive and welcoming, which it has been. Well, until now.

    In college, one of my psychology professors told us that there were two types of college students: The “means to and end” kids that solely sought after the diploma at the end. These are the doctors and the engineers. They knew that in order to get from point A to point B, they needed the degree. And then there is the students who were there for the process. They were not focused on the end goal, but on the education experience at hand.

    In a way, that is how I feel about blogging. You have some people who hit the ground running with the goal of monetizing their site, and then there are some of us that are just enjoying the ride, each day at a time.

    You didn’t think you were going to get away without me writing a billion word comment, did you? After all, if there is one thing I am known for, it’s having an opinion and not being afraid to voice it.

    Last year, I started the Beer Blogger Interview series — and for two reasons: 1. I wanted to support my fellow bloggers and give them the 10 seconds of fame that I personally thought they deserve and 2. answer the same questions you are asking: why are you a beer blogger? What are your goals? And so on and so forth…

    My goal? Well, right now I don’t have an ultimate goal. I am, however, enjoying the ride. You see, two years ago I gave up any semblance of a normal life to travel and write about beer. And you know what? I’m having the TIME of my LIFE.

    Most people only see the glorified lifestyle that I portray to have on the Internet. Constantly traveling, meeting all sorts of exciting people, getting hands on experience in breweries, rockstar-esque parties, beer, beer and more beer. What they don’t see is the sacrifices I have made to do those things. I’ve spent almost every single penny from my savings. I’ve lived from couch to couch. I’ve lived in a house that should have been excavated. All my earthly possessions can fit into a Dodge Neon. I own nothing, I have no real place that I call home … but you know what I do have? I have a memory bank full of some amazing experience. I have tasted some of the best beers in the country with some of the best brewers in the world. I have the most amazing support community — both in real life and on the Internet. I have been connected with amazing people all over the world, people that I would never have connected with if it wasn’t for my website.

    So for just one moment, stop and really think about why YOU write. Is it because you love a product, an industry, the people so much that you would be willing to give up everything you own in order to full emerge yourself into the culture of craft beer. Do you love craft beer so much that you don’t care about the repercussions that might follow if you wage a war on corporate beer?

    My site is my soapbox. It is a place where I can sing praises of craft beer, shout insults against corporate beer, rally up my fellow beer evangelists, and spread the message. Am I a writer? Hells yes. Do I have a journalism degree? No. But I do have two college degrees, both of which required extensive writing. So I’d like to think that I’m fairly qualified to string words together and make sentences. But even if I didn’t have that, I’d still write.

    I am not a brewer. I don’t work for a brewery (unfortunately). I cannot make an impact on the industry from that side. But you know what I do have? A voice. A strong and forceful voice, at that. I was never the popular kid in school. I was the kid that my coaches and teachers and principals could barely tolerate, but they did. You know why? Because I was an educated rebel. I fought with passion, but most importantly I was always a rebel with a cause. And you know what my cause is? Craft beer.

    And so I close on this note:

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

    • Hello Ashley-

      I’m not sure I’m the first professional beer writer to talk about the purpose of blogging, just another one. And I hope (most) people aren’t taking my questions, which as I noted were generally related to the online work of other professional writers, as some level of condemnation akin to those offered by folks such as Mr. Parker, whose work I do follow.

      You raise several interesting questions, which I will not pretend to answer here, including the value the brewing industry sees in beer blogs. I’m not sure I have a ready answer to that. I can say that I’ve never had a conversation about marketing with a craft brewer where they suggested paying attention to beer bloggers was an integral part of their strategy. I think some breweries do better than others but they’re still not quite sure why they interact with bloggers and what sort of returns they are truly seeing from that enterprise. I have seen many larger breweries use (and I feel that’s likely the right word) beer bloggers to build word-of-mouth/keyboard publicity for their brands or breweries. It’s sort of the same way with all sorts of consumer products, from music to mommy blogs. It’s worrisome from my perspective, not because I view bloggers as some sort of professional threat, but because that sort of co-option is an ethical mind field that most non-journalists don’t truly comprehend. But that is another topic for another round of pints.

      Certainly some interesting discussions to be had at the conference.

      Best,

      Andy

    • I fucking love the Beer Wench!

  23. Okay. Not done, yet.

    Another thing to ask yourself is, what value does the brewing industry see in beer blogs? If you were a craft brewer, would you rather have only one pretentious “famous” professional beer writer writing about your beer — MAYBE once a year? Or would you rather have 100′s of beer bloggers talking about you all over the Internet? And if you bring in Twitter and Facebook, the viral grassroots marketing is monumental.

    Beer bloggers are not trying to compete with the professional beer writers. Do you think homebrewers are brewing beer to compete with breweries? No, that is just silly. Naturally, some beer bloggers and homebrewers aspire to be professionals in the industry. But they have to start somewhere, right?

    Beer blogs are a great tool for aspiring writers to practice, hone their skills, and develop a portfolio. And the best part about the Internet is that it is a great platform for experimenting with righting styles, topics, etc. You throw stuff out there, and see what sticks. And then you keep running with what sticks.

    And you know what? There are some very talented writers out there, some even more talented than those so called “pros”…

    • Well put!!! I for one just blogged to throw out my reviews and thoughts on the industry. I am no professional but just love craft beer and I have no idea if I have any “readers” but I don’t care that much. I do it because I enjoy it and its fun.

    • Steve Parkes

      Whoa there Beer Wench…… next you’ll be claiming that some home brewers make better beer than professionals :-)

  24. If a person is passionate, why silence them or frown upon their enthusiasm and dedication to a subject like craft beer?

    While beer bloggers may never expect (thought secretly hope) to be the next amazingly known, awesomely followed beer writer, they are – at the end of the day – one person with a passion for craft beer who has chosen to vocalize, share and promote the craft beer industry in the only way she or he knows how to do: and that’s through words, photos, and stories.

    There is no harm in that. Let people express themselves. Let them follow their passions and write with fervor.

    We support Beer Bloggers.
    In fact, we created a special medal just for them at RedPint.com:
    http://www.redpint.com/achievements/24-beer-blogger

    Awareness and innovation do not happen when people are silent and inexpressive. Beer Bloggers have this inspiring passion for craft beer that should be celebrated. A dedication to writing and sharing their personal experiences – and letting us tag along – is something we should embrace, not criticize. And at the same time, there’s always going to be a place among the group for scribes (teachers and mentors, if you will) who – shall we say – have a certain pizazz and know-how that other writers rightfully aspire to.

    Cheers,
    RedPint

  25. Nice article. But who else is gonna promote the local New Orleans craft beer scene? ;)

    Cheers!

    The Beer Buddha

  26. People write beer blogs because they’re excited about beer and want to share- I don’t think everyone is out for cash.

    I could sum this piece up as being a narcissistic cry for attention, or I could say the same for it- passion for beer and the beer industry, and a desire to share. What’s wrong with that?

  27. It’s about passion. If you have it then you find platforms and outlets to share it, connect it with others and engage a community around something you love. If that’s what you’re interested in, then blogging is an amazing platform for it.

    It’s a sad day when someone only wants to share their passion with others if they’re getting paid to do so.

    • Hi Seth and others who have made a similar point:

      The level of passion to be shared is a finite commodity and will be spread around no matter the forum. When it comes to writing online for a professional writer, there isn’t much return on investment (in financial or readership terms) so I might better spend my time trying to cultivate new markets or write more books. And no one ever said that beer writing was a well-paying profession so there’s plenty of passion fueling all related endeavors.

      Best,

      Andy

  28. No need to drag the argument out, but I have to say I think it is patently false to say there is no ROI for a professional writer to blog. In fact, I thought that was an argument that had been put to rest years ago.

    How do you explain Wine Library TV\’s Gary Vaynerchuck hitting the NYT Best Sellers list? Or Seth Godin successfully releasing books with a $0 marketing budget? They give away amazing content for free, they foster relationships and build a community around a niche interest, and in turn people gladly buy their books and pay to see them speak.

    Can you really watch the below linked video of Vaynerchuk explaining the \”Thank You\” economy and say you that he is wrong? Or that the beer industry is so vastly different than the wine industry, or any other industry for that matter?
    http://garyvaynerchuk.com/post/226157962

    Disclaimer: Clearly nothing personal, just hitting on some marketing fundamentals that I am very passionate about.

    • Hey Seth, without question, Gary V. has been a tremendous success but I imagine we can agree that he is an extreme outlier when it comes to blogging/vblogging. I’m not saying that no writer has ever experienced a ROI for blogging but that it is a very rare case. And I haven’t seen any such examples in the world of beer. Can you?

      Best,

      Andy

      • I would certainly agree that the likes of Gary and Godin are in a league of their own when it comes to ROI and payback. There certainly is a HUGE difference when it comes to the reality of what most other bloggers do.

        And you’re right, no one has really done it in the world of beer, but maybe that just means the time is right for someone to get it done? :)

        Good discussion!

  29. Andy,

    I must admit that, from a marketing perspective, what you have done today is absolutely brilliant. For someone who publishes only once or twice a month, writing a post that attacks the beer blogging community on the eve of the beer bloggers conference and then linking to some of the major websites … SHEER GENIUS. You had to of known that you would get a lot of attention and a lot of people rallying around this post. Something tells me that you knew what you were doing in writing this particular post at this particular time.

    Just thought that this needed to be said.

    XOXO,

    The Brilliantly Branded Beer Wench

    PS: Totally don’t hate you, but I do love a good fight :)

    • And on that note, my continuous promoting of your article actually helps further promote my brand, in a weird roundabout way. So… thanks, darling.

    • Hey Ashley-

      Would love to say that I put that much thought into the marketing side of it (but again, what am I really getting in return, besides some increased traffic for a day), but it just turns out I was home sick from work and hadn’t done much all day. I certainly knew some folks would see the article and it’s only when I saw the first #bbc10 hashtag that I realized it would likely grow bigger. Good discussions all around and best of luck with the conference.

      Best,

      Andy

  30. I don’t need 5000 words to defend what we do. It was only a matter of time until an actual pro got pissed off about bloggers – and potentially justifiably. We aren’t (for the most part) actual journalists and we don’t subscribe to their rules, either. Would we water down beer journalism? I don’t know.

    Most of us just love beer. Thats it. Myself – I drink it, I make it and love traveling to find and experience it. If I can give people (readers) a snippet of my what I experienced and it effects their interest in that experience – great. Shortcut to beer.

    A lot of bloggers have ads. Sure, they do. Beer readers peruse their site and so bloggers can provide a platform for brewers/bottle shops/bars/events to get noticed. If bloggers take payment for that service, its to sustain itself. Believe it or not, there is a cost to doing it (for most people).

    One point I agree with – being influenced. Many bloggers are guilty of receiving free products and giving them an A+. We don’t do it. We have never asked for one product and every beer reviewed was bought with our hard earned cash. That part needs fixed. Shakespeare said “No legacy is so rich as honesty.”

  31. I’m only reading blogging here referred to as a written medium – video and audio blogging is arguably as popular, if not more so. What of its impact?

  32. What constitutes a blog, and I mean specifically? I’ve been told that I have a website vs. a blog due to its ridged database driven format. Not sure BeerNews.org can really be considered a blog! No more so than any other news service, anyway? Does the Alstrom brothers leaving a post on Beer Advocate count as blogging? They certainly have clout and were educating people and shaping the craft beer industry before anyone even knew what a blog was?

    Also, you don’t become profitable by involving middle men – read: Google and Amazon ads.

    Good debate.

  33. Interesting arguments on both sides. I look forward to discussing this further in Boulder, over a cold beer of course!

  34. From one of Andy’s comments above, “I have seen many larger breweries use (and I feel that’s likely the right word) beer bloggers to build word-of-mouth/keyboard publicity for their brands or breweries. It’s sort of the same way with all sorts of consumer products, from music to mommy blogs. It’s worrisome from my perspective, not because I view bloggers as some sort of professional threat, but because that sort of co-option is an ethical mind field that most non-journalists don’t truly comprehend.”

    “Ethical minefield.”

    Hmm, ok. So let’s say, hypothetically, that I’m a Houston beer drinker that reads beer blogs and, in one of my favorite local blogs, a blogger reports that there is an upcoming beer event at the Flying Saucer in which some Saint Arnold beers are to be featured on tap. Is this the kind of “word-of-mouth/keyboard publicity” that worries you? Maybe you are worried that brewers pay/influence blogger reviews? If the latter, I assure you that the debates around superficial influences of ratings have been there for years on two of the largest beer websites, RateBeer, and your employer, Beer Advocate.

    In fact, in September, Beer Advocate collected $45/ticket for an educational panel hosted by you (and I’m guessing Todd & Jason were around) featuring brewers from Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Odell Brewing Company. Todd and Jason run a website in which each of those breweries have several beers with a cumulative score of “Excellent” or higher and they have personally rated at least one beer from each of those breweries “Very good.” They continue to review beers that are shipped to them for their magazine. I do not see a disclosure next to the reviews as to which beers were paid for (if any) or which ones were received for free.

    So are you suggesting that I should be more worried about the conflicts of interest present with the beer blogger from Houston or those present with the largest beer site on the internet, (again) a.k.a. your employer?

    And would it suit your employer, a.k.a. your pocket, that beer blogs didn’t exist and everyone was going to your employer for news and information?

    Why did you write this, Andy?

    Ethical minefield, indeed.

    I’m just glad that, as a journalist, you have the brainpower to comprehend it because, apparently, us non-journalists do not.

    It goes without saying but there are ethics at play throughout the industry from the time a brewer chooses a supplier for his/her malts to the time a bar chooses which brewer gets a tap handle to the time that you or someone else sits down to write a review and publishes it on the internet.

    I do worry about things sometimes. Beer blogger ethics and conflicts of interest just aren’t that high on the list.

    Cheers,
    Adam

    (And, for the record, I’m sure that you and the BA guys are stand-up people and are not crooks, it was just easy to use your affiliation as an example here)

    • Hey Adam and thanks for your comment.

      At its core, I think daylight in all interactions between the press (however defined) and the subjects of their coverage goes a long way towards promoting positive ethics. As to your Houston example, I have no problem with reporting events or beer releases. If the blogger attends on a free pass, I, as a reader, would appreciate knowing that. If the beer was sent for free, I’d like to know that as well but really, the occasional bottle of beer is not really the area of my concern here. As an example, I received a couple of emails from a large beer company in the last two weeks asking whether I’d like to accept some very expensive item from them (worth more than $250 by their account) along with a new product they were releasing and of course they hoped I’d write about it. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to receive that email and I haven’t bothered to see who has written about it, but I imagine it’s out there. Things usually aren’t that blatant but sometimes they’re worse. In the world of wine, things are much much worse. I think it’s a good idea to address these things before they go much further. I’ve been the first to acknowledge these challenges and have tried to address them openly. As I said, daylight or sunshine helps quite a bit. I am a trained journalist, one who has had to take classes on this topic from the age of 18 forward. Others haven’t and that’s fine. The ethical issues often don’t seem to dawn on many bloggers (in and out of the beer realm) and I think a conference such as this would be a great place to discuss them, however briefly.

      As to the BeerAdvocate Mag situation, without going into internal discussions, I’ve suggested since day one that magazines and newspapers that review beers (of which there are close to a dozen), include an asterisk telling people when the beers have been submitted by the breweries. To my knowledge, no one does this. I don’t personally solicit beer on my website and I think enough breweries know this that I rarely receive beer in the mail. I also don’t do product reviews on my website or in magazines so I think that probably helps. As to the Denver event, it was set up by me, I selected the breweries and the beers involved (from beers profiled in my book), and paid expenses where necessary to do the event. As you know, the BeerAdvocate guys run several festivals every year in Boston. Since day one, unlike nearly every other festival in the country, they offer to pay for the beers they serve. The bill for the Belgian Beer Festival alone (happening this weekend) is just insane. So I think their track record is pretty good. With that said, I’d like the reviews to reflect what I said above. I think the concerns for beer bloggers and beer magazines alike apply equally.

      And I imagine you were joking when you said that it would help BA if the bloggers went away. As you know, they consist of two very different business models (assuming the latter has one) and if anything probably help each other out.

      Your point about ethics not being high on the list of things that concern you is evidence of the points I have been making. I think it is something we as an industry (professional writers) (bloggers) (what have you) should be concerned about. Your facile jab aside, it’s not about brainpower. It’s simply about taking a few moments to think about these issues. As you know with the FTC, it’s a big issue in the area of blogging and will continue to be so in the years to come.

      And in the interest of flashing some daylight on the situation, you’ve had some issues with the BA boys in the past, both personal and professional, just for the sake of disclosure. I’m not privy to it nor am I trying to debate and discuss it here. It’s just something that probably should be noted in light of the tone of your comment.

      Best,

      Andy

      • To shed more daylight on the issue you describe, in 2008, I started my blog which quickly became popular with Beer Advocate users. Dozens of users posted links to my articles to promote beer advocacy over there (I think there were 100-ish at one point) before it was flagged for “abuse.” Early this year, that notice was taken down and I think we’ve co-existed peacefully ever since. I support them (and you) as a paying magazine subscriber & wish them the best at their festival this weekend.

        As for disclosures, it’d be easy to drown ourselves in them as people who write about/review products and maybe it’s a necessary evil. Without a legal background, I’m obviously coming from a different angle on that one…

    • I have to chime in a small bit of input as a “beer marketer”

      At the brewery I work with, we built a massive chunk of their reputation via beer bloggers. All we did was offer to ship them beers and opened the floor for reviews. We got some great, some good, and some not so great at all.

      Bloggers don’t have a code of ethics that journalists do, true. But they’re also not to be bought, for any price. I’ve never once tried to convince a beer blogger to write anything but their honest opinion, and that they delivered. It wasn’t always positive, but we were able to learn a lot from their feedback. They represented the real market, the market of the folks that were going to go to the store and buy the beer on a regular basis. Not the staunch journalists I had plenty of turn-downs from for over a year when I tried to gain notoriety for the brewery.

      Point is, I’m not a beer blogger, but I chat with them constantly.
      They’re extremely nice; they’ve helped spread the word about beer events people might be interested, which might have never reached as wide of an audience had it not been for them. They write me back right away and are polite even when turning me down, unlike journalists who can be rude and, in some cases, pompous.

      They’ve formed an online community filled with positive camaraderie, one that has helped the brewery (and I have no doubt others) reach an audience everywhere from New York to Hawaii.

      And they did it all by being honest and sharing in the same passion that the professional writers have: drinking good beer.

      At the end of the day, what else matters?

  35. Todd Parker

    The blogger vs journalist argument will live on for a long time. I say the proof is in the pudding, I will read the blogs (and of course their books too, should they happen) that I think help me gauge what is happening in the beer world, sometimes that is helped by seeing what is happening outside of the ad dollars enriched journalism world (that sometimes can be tainted by money). Am I going to ditch my New Brewer, American Brewer, … for some guy who only drinks IPA’s, and hates lagers- Hell NO! I read what my time and patience allows. I do read a few blogs when I can, whether it is Pete Brown’s, J. Brooks, Llew Bryson, Stan Hieronomous, Ashley Routson’s, or yours- that is why I follow all of you either on Facebook or Twitter or both. I do read others here and there should the topic (and my limited time allow) interest me. I also try to keep up with what is happening locally, but that is always tough too.

    On the making a profit note, there aren’t accounting blogs, well there probably are, but nobody cares to read them. People like beer, and feel like writing about it for fun and/or pleasure, which does dilute the market making it harder to make a living. Remember this though, the same is true for those making the product that you all are writing about- everybody wants to be the guy making the beer, but few realize that those doing that job really are not making a great living.

  36. It is a bit scary that many of you seem to be unaware of the legality surrounding sample disclosures on blogs and websites.

    Last year, the Federal Trade Commission put out a press release announcing its “Final Guidelines Governing Endorsements, Testimonials”. Essentially, the document requires bloggers to disclose free samples when reviewing and rating them on their website, or they are subject to a $11,000 fine. My friend is a wine blogger and wine writer, and his analysis of the document can be found HERE.

    So yes, we are required to reveal free samples.

    This argument is definitely not new and I don’t think it will be laid to rest any time in the near future. My prediction is that the FTC will continue to regulate the blogosphere and that ultimately, there will be a code of ethics for blogs. But who knows, I could be wrong. And I kind of hope I am because I’m really into the relaxed freedom of speech I have on my site…

  37. I hereby disclose that I get unsolicited beer and gifts from brewers, and it turns out I can be bought surprisingly cheap. Case in point: Oddly, Cerveceria Cautemoc sent me a stuffed parakeet in a wooden cage last year for Christmas (no kidding) that I’ve named “Parakeet” and it keeps me company on my desk, and probably makes me write about Dos Equis more than I should, just by nature of its cold steely eyes always watching me. On the other hand, SABMiller sent me a Pilsner Urquel humidor and I never write about that brand. Anyway, here’s my blog post on my ethics challenges: http://beereditor.blogspot.com/2008/08/going-to-olympics-not.html

  38. Bud let me ride the Clydesdales so I am totally giving Bud Light a good review

  39. Uncle Jimbo

    Great article, as usual, Andy. You sum up my thoughts exactly. I have pondered starting my own beer blog, but have not done so for the reasons discussed — mostly I don’t find the time, and do not feel the need for a tiny audience. Instead I post my beer reviews on BeerAdvocate.com, and my musings on Twitter and Facebook (as well as a few other beer-oriented websites). I have a day job, and it pays much better than any beer industry job that I can imagine, so I stick with it.

    Cheers,
    Jimbo

  40. Andy, I think you’ve gotten a lot wrong here, but rather than add to this extremely long list of comments, I’ve just blogged about it. (That’s what bloggers do!)

    Cheers–

  41. Thinking about this more…an open thought and not something that Andy necessarily suggests here..

    If beer bloggers lack the fortitude to be critical and unbiased in their commentary, I’d put some of the blame on the beer ‘journalists’ that have come before us.

    Pick up a print edition of Brewing News or Ale Street News publication and you’ll find that it is rife with unnecessary praise of brewers. Example: this month, the beginning of a one paragraph blurb on what’s new at Pretty Things Beer starts out like this…

    “Dann and Martha Paquette of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project are constantly amazing us with their innovative and satisfying brews.” The paragraph goes on to talk about a couple new beer releases.

    As a reader and blogger that handles beer news, I don’t find that it adds value at all though I’m probably guilty at times as well (usually somewhat forced because I need to add a fluff sentence just to give my “blurbs” a little length). What I never do (I think/I hope) is add exclamation points through my blog posts as this beer journalist has.

    In fact, exclamation points are present on just about every page as I flip through this publication. Why would I expect anything different considering that it’s filled with advertisements from brewers, bars and other supporting beer companies?

    The conflicts of interest seem to permeate through beer print publications far more than the little known unpaid beer bloggers. After 2.5 years and nearly 3,000 blog posts, I’ve never been delivered an offer of money or beer to praise a brewer. I guess I’m still too small of a fish.

    Again, this gets away from the point of the post which was vague to me from the start but I guess I’m saying I agree with your comments…somewhat.

    Adam

    • Hey Adam-

      Today is a beer blog free day for me so very briefly, I agree with most of your points as I have said many times on this website (not going to bother digging up the links right now, anyone interested can find them). I’ve never been particularly kind to the so-called brewspapers.

      Best,

      Andy

  42. “…rife with unnecessary praise of brewers…”

    What a great and long needed phrase.

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