Beer Writing

Is the Beer Nut Nuts?

I’ve generally avoided the whole dust-up involving beer writer George Lenker of the Springfield Republican (who, like a half-dozen or more folks goes by the moniker, The Beer Nut) and his recent Part I of II rants on beer writers. I read the first one and didn’t think much of it either way (great, he doesn’t like beer bloggers. Who does?). Now I’ve read the second one, at the behest of a reader’s suggestion, and I actually have no idea what he’s talking about. It reads a bit, not to be too grim, like a journalistic suicide note or a flame-out rant someone makes on an Internet bulletin board before signing off forever. With such a nice platform as a weekly beer column, especially in such a vibrant place as Western and Central Massachusetts, it remains more than a curiosity why he (and his editors, which George notes that he has) would let either part of this rant run. Maybe this only runs online, in which case that would make a tad more sense, but not much. In any event, chalk this up to a vanity exercise and a wasted opportunity (or two) to connect with people about beer.

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22 thoughts on “Is the Beer Nut Nuts?

  1. I can see why this guy is mad. He gets paid (at least for the moment) for writing about beer and other people are now doing it for free, wrecking his great gig. He is getting a bit of a raw deal. He worked his way up over the years to be a columnist and now with the power of the Web, anyone can be him. They can and they are.

    Ranting about changing times does pretty much nothing to stop them from changing.

  2. First George Lenker, and then Andy Crouch

    “great, he doesn’t like beer bloggers. Who does?”

    Geez, what have I done to offend you guys? I mean, after all, in my spare time, I help promote craft beers, beer festivals, and other events as well as writing about craft breweries and placing to drink craft beer. I help turn on family, friends as well as complete strangers to an industry that gets you paid. No, it isn’t professional, and my knowledge is limited. But you don’t have to pay me a dime for this. For now, you are welcome.

    It looks like George Lenker has made himself exhibit A for the need to have lots of opinions out there. And since you don’t seem to like me much either, I’ll probably just turn my attention and my wallet to professional writers with different attitudes than yours.

  3. Hi Derrick and welcome-

    That aside was meant as a joke or at least a touch of irony considering that I also blog about beer. Just keep doing what you’re doing (and perhaps have a beer to relax)…



    P.S. Your website appears to be down so I’ll take your word that you blog…

  4. Not that you need a good blog-keeping seal of approval, Andy, but I saw that wink. Could it be that because we are lawyers that we are used to deflecting the critical ironic joke.

    [Hey… maybe I should start issuing good blog-keeping seals of approval. After all, there’s no certification like self-certification.]

  5. That column kinda raise my ire last week, but I can’t say that I raged about it quite as much Alan did.

    I blogged about it, because who doesn’t love a grand sense of irony?

    I agree – this second part is … bizarre. Weird advice (that he should really follow), and Kierkegaard? Awesome.

    You can only assume that he has a specific amateur in mind. In a way, you kinda wish he was pointing fingers, it would almost make more sense.

  6. Lenker writes a column (supposedly) on beer for a consumer publication. Who in his target audience cares about the state of the beer-writing trade?

    If I were his editor and he submitted a column (let alone two) on that topic, I’d tell him to go home and try again.

    Who is the poorer beer journalist: an amateur blogger or a supposed pro who writes two columns having nothing to do with beer?

    Lenker fears that the amateurs’ screeds will turn people off to craft beer. I wonder how many readers might be turned off to beer when they look to his column for information and instead find his opinions on bloggers and such.

  7. Everyone needs to learn to read more closely: The columns ended with, “Keep writing.”

    However, aside from that misreading noted above, the columns had the intended effect, which was to start a conversation. But I had no idea people were so sensitive. But again, even Andy misread it and I know he’s smart. But a good rereading will show that all I did was ask for restraint. AND tell people to “keep writing.” I guess everyone missed that. (As well as missing the irony of how I was actually doing–i.e., being somewhat, but not a lot, incendiary–what Iwa scautioning against. I guess subtlety is a lost art.)

    By the way, my readers are largely newbies to craft beer.

  8. Hey George, welcome, and hope all is well with you.

    From the response, I think everyone seems to have missed your intended point so perhaps a little further explanation might benefit all of us. I’m still not particularly clear after a few re-readings. In any event, the topic seems one that is pretty much insider baseball, of interest to only a niche of a niche. And as you note, with newbie craft beer readers, a two-part series on this obscure topic likely didn’t make much sense to them.

    Best and indeed keep writing.


  9. “…aside from that misreading noted above…”

    I don’t think it is a matter of misreading. Your columns confused a lot of well read people with plenty of experience in the area. We do not need to learn to read more closely so much as you need to work on structuring your arguments if you are going to enter into this sort of discussion.

    That being said, I do not think I “raged” so much as used your column as an illustration of what others have been suggesting as well – especially since the demise of Beer of the World magazine. Questioning beer blogging these days is a bit odd to me as beer blogging is so 2005.

    We do agree on the main point: keep writing. But for me if that means asking tough questions or expressing the frustrations of a consumer, well, you will have strong feelings. And why not – this is pop culture. Would you tell Yanks and Red Sox fans not to feel so passionate this weekend? Hardly.

  10. Well Alan if you disagree with George’s mild comments here, you’ll really appreciate his thoughts on the quality of your reading skills (and those of pretty much anyone who disagrees with his scatter-shot columns) continuing over at the Here for the Beer site (through a very interesting tie-in with Facebook that I’ll have to look into).


  11. The discussion over on Tim and Amy’s blog is ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous.

    I wish I could understand what the man is writing so that I could be truly enlightened.

  12. I suspect that writing about craft beers and breweries in mainstream publications does little to influence the uninitiated into sampling craft beers as much as it simply entertains the regular readership and reinforce opinions already established. I can’t think of anyone I know that decided to give up their Miller lite for a Dogfishhead for example because of an article in the paper. Good writing is what’s being sold here not beer. So I have to take issue with the implication that the writer is helping or harming the craft brew industy.

  13. The consumer press definitely can influence nonbelievers. I suspect that readers of a beer column might primarily be enthusiasts, but a feature could certainly draw the attention of many of the non-converted.

    I don’t think a newspaper article is going to persuade the Miller Lite drinker to instantly change, but I’m sure that repeated exposure to beer articles will cause many to become curious. Couple that with perhaps a beer-enthusiast friend or a friendly beer retailer, and that person might give it a try.

    Using myself as an example, I read a newspaper article about homebrewing after it was legalized in 1979. That article caused me to take up the hobby.

  14. Thanks for all the feedback. I welcome all of it, excpet when it misrepresents what I wrote.

    For the record, at least a dozen or more people, over the years, have told me my column has got them to try craft beer. Not all liked what they tried, granted, but they DID try.

    Just FYI.

    Oh and Kiekegaard would say:

    “Take away paradox from the thinker and you have a professor.”


    “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”


  15. The Kierkegaard angle may be the most unintentionally funny part of this whole ridiculousness. As one emailer noted to me, “I think he really has added “what would Kierkegaard say” into the beer blogging lexicon.” Because nothing says accessible like a string of 19th Century Danish philosopher quotes…

    For the record, I still, countless posts later, have no idea what George’s original point was in either column. For the best I guess…



  16. As long as other bloggers are promoting craft beer/home brewing, then it’s all good to me. As far as I see it, we are all on the same side. A brother hood of beer bloggers of all varieties 🙂

  17. I think BeerNut #37 misses a huge point that not all beer writing is or should be intended to sway swill drinkers to craft or to hold beer geek newbies hands. There is a much wider audience than just newbies who may be turned off by opinion writing. As a long time beer geek, I prefer to read beer writers who aren’t afraid to speak their mind or give their honest opinions (hence, why I was introduced to this article through Andy’s blog instead of Beer Nut #37’s blog…err, electonic version of a newspaper article – as if there’s a difference.)

    I have much more respect to those who put their views out there rather than taking the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all approach” or try to sugar coat and downplay anything negative. To me it is dishonest and is not doing the industry any favors by hiding poorly made beer or industry practices that are detrimental to craft beer.

    I mean how many articles do we need that just reviews beer, or says how wonderful McNiell’s is doing because he has a new packaging brewhouse? How long does it take for someone to realize that the shallow end of the pool is warm because the kiddies are all peeing it? At some point paid beer writers have to get the balls to jump off the high dive – the opinion bloggers are just those who have no fear of commercial backlash since they don’t need to make a living off being nice to industry players. The more diversity, the better, I think.

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