Tag: blogs

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Getting paid.

This is off-topic for beer, cider etc but I thought it went here rather than on my seldom used other blog – it really goes out to other bloggers and people who enjoy writing about beer – and people who are interested in doing business with them/us.

Discussions on writers getting paid for their work seem to be coming to a head in the media at the moment. A couple of weeks ago Philip Hensher raised the subject when he was branded ‘ungracious’ for daring to ask for payment for something he was asked to write. A couple of days later, I was shocked to read about a science writer being called a whore when she politely declined to write a piece for free. (Which raises another subject – I doubt the same language would have been used if she were a man.)

Last night on Twitter, Boak & Bailey and Zak Avery were discussing an email that has done the rounds that essentially asks bloggers to give consultancy services for free for a big beer brand – so we’re not even talking the old language of ‘exposure’ here, they simply want to gather expert opinion without paying for it.

I have an alarm that goes off about this kind of stuff now. It starts clanging when people ask if they can ‘pick my brains’ about something. If I’m lucky, they offer to buy me a pint in return for information which, if I’m any good, could eventually lead to a major profit opportunity for the company asking.

It’s not a cut and dried issue. We live in an age where content is increasingly expected for free, where a generation simply doesn’t see why they should pay musicians or filmmakers for their work. Our society increasingly assumes that economic value is the only form of value worth talking about, yet paradoxically, creators of cultural or artistic value are expected to go, “No, you’re fine, I do it for the love, I don’t care about money, that’s for squares, man.”

Writing is now my full-time profession. I worked two jobs for years to build up my skill and reputation to a point where I can just about scrape a living from writing. It’s a much less lucrative job than the last one, but I love what I do, and that makes me very lucky, I know.

But I still have to make a living. Some weeks I’m ferociously busy, travelling around the country, doing events, writing stuff, and I get to the end of the week and realise I’ve done nothing for which I can raise an invoice. The bills and mortgage still need to be paid, and I am currently the main breadwinner in our household. I know some professional writers who can make as little as £200 a month, some months. During such dry patches, you’d be better off on the dole.

What we do must have some worth, some value, otherwise people wouldn’t ask us to do stuff for them.

Of course, bloggers write for free every time they blog, and this somehow creates the expectation that we’ll do the same for someone else’s website or publication or brand. We’ll do it for love, or for that seductive but non-nutritious drug, ‘exposure’. This expectation that we’ll write for you for free because we’ll write for ourselves for free has unsavoury parallels with those seedy blokes who see a girl ‘put out’ for one of their friends and therefore think that she’s ‘easy’ and will oblige them in the same way. Maybe the girl was into your friend and she’s not into you. And anyway, at all times, it’s her decision.

Different bloggers have different motivations. For professional journalists (no superiority implied there, I just mean people who make their living from writing) a blog can be a shop window that gets you more paid work, a place to put ideas that don’t fit anywhere else or that publications won’t buy, or a place to try out different stuff stylistically, to be more personal, more experimental. Citizen bloggers with other jobs who do this for a hobby have their own reasons. But just because any of us write for free sometimes, that shouldn’t come with an expectation that we’ll be happy to do it any time for anyone.

So here’s what I reckon: collectively we need to alter the establishing perception that it’s OK to expect a writer/blogger to do something for free. It’s OK to ask. But in most cases, I’d like to think that writers and bloggers will politely decline. And that this demurral will be accepted with good grace. This needs to become – or remain – the accepted norm.

Occasionally there might be a cause or an opportunity where after giving it some thought the writer might say, ‘You know what? I’m really interested by this. I’ll happily do it for free because it’s something I believe in/am excited about/might allow me to get to meet Vanessa Feltz/Eamonn Holmes.’ (I did a bit of telly once where I got to be interviewed by Peter Purves! Dreams can come true in the strangest ways.)

But if, as in the examples quoted at the top of this piece, you are offended by a polite refusal (and our end of the deal should be that refusals are always polite) then screw you. Especially if you are asking in a role for which you are being paid handsomely yourself.

If a publication/organisation is asking a writer/blogger to do something from which they expect to make a profit, the writer/blogger deserves a cut. I can’t believe that even needs saying.

As bloggers, we give content away to our readers. That is a choice we make. It is not the same as giving content away free to brand owners/brewers, agencies, beer judging competitions, and other publications or websites. Especially if they are going to profit from it. The expectation that we will do so has to stop.

For more on this issue, you could do a lot worse than read this manifesto by Barney Hoskyns, and this piece in the New York Times (thanks to James Grinter for the link.)

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“How many beer bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb?”

“Take my head brewer.  No, seriously, please, take him.”

That was the question I asked on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.  
Some people thought I was angry, that I’d been pushed over the edge by one too many pedants at GBBF last week.  Not at all.  I was hacking away at the garden, feeling a bit bored and a little mischievous, and thought it might be a bit of harmless fun – remember that?
I think it’s safe to say the replies address the whole spectrum of beer blogging.  Some are very similar and I’ve grouped those together.  Some are funnier than others, though this may depend on who you are, so I’ve featured the whole lot below – about half are my own, half other people’s.  I’ve structured some as conversations because they work better that way.
So, how many beer bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb?
“That’s not the question. The question is, what is the true definition of a lightbulb?”
“12 – One to change it & 11 to sit around talking about how much they preferred to old one!”
“4 – 1 to rate it on http://ratebulb.com . 1 to video it. 1 to retweet it. 1 to Google an electrician.”
“Don’t we all just sit in the dark?”
“None. They just stumble around in the dark and end up
peeing in the airing cupboard.”
“We don’t change the lightbulb, we just sit in the dark
arguing about cask vs keg.”
“It depends. If the lightbulb’s in the cellar and there’s
no beer, then one and all.”
“Why oh why do so many people persist in repeating the
unfounded myth that the lightbulb needs to change?”
“A dozen take turns at it whilst pronouncing the old bulb
‘boring’ & the new one ‘awesome’. But nothing actually gets changed.”
“None – as you’re not going to actually find a blogger who
can do the thing they want to moan about.”
“They go on at great length about the importance of an
‘authentic’ light bulb but somehow nobody gets round to it.”
“It all depends who made the lightbulb. If it was mass-produced it was probably shit at giving out light anyway.”
 “I prefer these
local, artisanally produced lightbulbs instead of those cheap macroluminiscent
excuses for illumination.”
“Is it an artisan produced bulb, or mass produced yellow
fizz of light?”
“But how is the electricity made ? I’ll sit in the dark if
it’s not wind power.”
-> “I’m a CAMRA member. I won’t
conform to this new ‘energy saving’ rubbish.”
“One to form a bunch of committees. Then another 140,000 to
sit around reminiscing about the old days before electricity.”
-> “Tallow, it’s the future.”
“I actually preferred the Mk2 lightbulb, which they made for
6 months before they were closed by Mazda.”
“To be real thing, the gas should be vented before turning
on the bulb, although obviously it won’t last as long, about 3ms.”
“I change my lightbulbs every two minutes. That way I know
they aren’t sell-outs.”
“No matter how many try, they’ll never do it as well as
Michael Jackson did.” 
“Why did the proverbial lightbulb die in the first place?”
“Those Americans are doing things with lightbulbs that we
Brits can’t even begin to imagine.”
“Your old lightbulb was shit. The lightbulb revolution
starts here.”
“I think you’ll find that there is no direct proof the
lightbulb was ever invented.”
“That has nowhere near enough wattage to be classed as a lightbulb.”
-> “It’s not the quality of the
light, but the provenance of the inert gas within the bulb.”
“WTF? Lightbulbs!? Why aren’t you guys talking about halogen
striplights?! FFS”
-> “I cannot BELIEVE you people are
still talking about ‘strip’ lights. The correct term is TRACKLIGHTS. JESUS.”
-> “I just bought some AWESOME
tracklights!!!! Over a hundred units of brightness. Awesome!!!”
-> “I think you’ll find they’re
called lumens, not units of brightness.”

“I’m keeping the old lightbulb in, to see how it ages.”

Thangyouverymuch, I’m here all week, etc…

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Wikio Wine and Beer Blog Rankings for October 2010

There hasn’t been much movement of late in the blog rankings.  I blogged a few months ago that it seemed to have gone a little stale.

Well, be careful what you wish for:

Wikio.co.uk  – November Wine and Beer Ranking

1 Boggle About Beer (+39)
2 Pencil & Spoon (=)
3 Brew Dog Blog (=)
4 Pete Brown’s Blog (-3)
5 Zythophile (+5)
6 Tandleman’s Beer Blog (+1)
7 Beer Reviews (+1)
8 The Pub Curmudgeon (-4)
9 Called to the bar (=)
10 Master Brewer at Adnams (+34)
11 Are You Tasting the Pith? (-5)
12 Woolpack Dave’s beer and stuff blog (-7)
13 The Beer Nut (=)
14 Rabid About Beer (+15)
15 Thornbridge Brewers’ Blog (-1)
16 Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog (-5)
17 Bibendum Wine (+37)
18 The Wine Conversation (+15)
19 Spittoon (-4)
20 Brew Wales (-8)

Wine and Beer

Ranking made by Wikio.co.uk

Congratulations, Boggle!  Up from number 40 to the top of the pile!  A very busy month from me does nothing to stop me sliding to my lowest ever position after nearly a year on top, and there’s all sorts of moving and shaking going on throughout the chart.  Sadly, Cooking Lager’s campaign to install Zak at the top of the chart also seems to have backfired, with Mr Avery slipping five places.

Call me arrogant if you like, but I did check with Wikio, they’ve been through the data very carefully and have confirmed that the rankings are correct.

Time to maybe check out some blogs you don’t normally read!

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Wikio Rankings for June 2010

Yes, it’s that time of the month again, that time when people get grouchy and irritable and are prone to sudden mood swings, when something inconsequential gets blown up into an object of genuine anger…  no I’m not talking about pre-menstrual tension, I’m talking about the Wikio blog rankings!

1 Pete Brown’s Blog (=)
2 Pencil & Spoon (=)
3 The Pub Curmudgeon (+3)
4 Called to the bar (+6)
5 Brew Dog Blog (-1)
6 Tandleman’s Beer Blog (+1)
7 The Beer Nut (-4)
8 Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog (-3)
9 Woolpack Dave’s beer and stuff blog (=)
10 Spittoon (+1)
11 Zythophile (+1)
12 Beer Reviews (+1)
13 The Bitten Bullet (-5)
14 Rabid About Beer (+12)
15 Reluctant Scooper (-1)
16 Real Brewing at the Sharp End (+2)
17 Travels With Beer (=)
18 `It’s just the beer talking` ? Jeff Pickthall’s Blog (-3)
19 Brew Wales (=)
20 Taking the beard out of beer! (+1)

Ranking by Wikio

Nice to see a few movers and shakers in there.  Glyn at the Rake has been devoting a lot of time to his blog when, as a newlywed, you’d think he had better things to do.  And Adrian Tierney Jones’ lyrical West Country musings deservedly enter the top five for the first time.  Also, it’s worth noting that there are now only two wine bogs in this top twenty of ‘beer and/or wine’ blogs.  
Last time I posted the results – at the beginning of May – I suggested that beer blogging had become boring, introspective.  Too many tasting notes, and too many in-jokes for other bloggers.  It’s a difficult path to resist, because other bloggers tend to comment more often than readers who don’t blog, but I think we ignore a general readership at our peril.
A couple of people have asked “Well, how did we do?”
I thought about this for a while and the question made me a bit uncomfortable.  To answer it in a way that discusses individual blogs would be to make myself some kind of self-appointed judge of what’s good and bad in the blogging world, and I don’t think I should do that.  We’re all entitled to a personal opinion and I’ll offer some general thoughts that are just that – purely my opinion, to be agreed or disagreed with.  
If you do want me to judge your work, there is an opportunity to do that: custom dictates that the winner of the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Beer Writer of the Year chairs the judging panel for the following year, and this year that responsibility falls to me.  There is a category for Best Communication Online, celebrating the best beer writing, and/or the best use of V-Blogs, social networking sites, etc.  In its first year Zak Avery won the award and went on to win the overall Beer Writer of the Year title on the back of his excellent blog, and I was runner up.  Last year Mark Dredge won, with Dave Bailey coming second.  It’s definitely worth entering.  But I think you should enter your work and ask for it to be judged before I start making any comments on what’s good and what’s bad.
So with regard to my challenge to the blogging world two months ago, just a couple of general thoughts.  Lots of bloggers didn’t seem entirely happy with me for laying down the challenge in the first place.  Sorry about that – no one had any right to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your blog.  
What I did remain firm on though was that if the reason you’re blogging is to attract as many readers as you can, with a view to improving as a writer and perhaps making the transition into paid-for writing, then you have an obligation to constantly try to improve – we all do, no matter what level we’re at.  And I took my own challenge, realising that I too had been starting to toss off quick posts that were really for the entertainment of the people listed above.  I’ve gone back to writing more thoughtfully, never assuming that people are ‘in’ with the world I’m writing about.  I hope I’ve succeeded in making it more interesting for the kind of people who never leave comments.
For the rest of you, I think many people did rise to the challenge.  You may not have liked it, it may have been “Yeah? I’ll show you writing, who do you think you are?” rather than “Hmm, good point, Pete”, but many people did something different.  It caused a lot of introspective articles about why people blog, why they write about beer, and most of those were great to read – not too navel-gazing at all, but thoughtful and articulate and above all, passionate.
Beyond that, I felt the range of writing increased, people did try to do different stuff, take a few risks, and think about what they were writing.  
All I’m saying is I’ve enjoyed reading beer blogs much more.
But a few people said “Why are we now writing about blogging when we should be writing about beer?” and I think that’s an excellent point, and a good argument for finishing this post right now.

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Wikio Mea Culpa

Here are the REVISED Wikio rankings for April.

Tricky situation, because every month they offer a blogger an exclusive, before they go live.  There’s a narrow window to get this exclusive up before the rankings go live.  So even though it looked dodgy, I had to go with it – but it turns out it was wrong.  So here are the right ones:

1 Pete Brown’s Blog (=)
2 Pencil & Spoon (=)
3 Brew Dog Blog (=)
4 The Pub Curmudgeon (+2)
5 The Beer Nut (=)
6 Tandleman’s Beer Blog (-2)
7 Woolpack Dave’s beer and stuff blog (=)
8 Spittoon (+4)
9 `It’s just the beer talking` ? Jeff Pickthall’s Blog (+1)
10 The Bitten Bullet (-1)
11 Beer Reviews (+6)
12 Zythophile (+3)
13 Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog (-5)
14 Called to the bar (-3)
15 Reluctant Scooper (+4)
16 Real Ale Reviews (=)
17 Brew Wales (-3)
18 The Wine Conversation (-5)
19 Travels With Beer (+1)
20 Taking the beard out of beer! (+9)

Ranking by Wikio

A couple of thoughts and observations:

The fact that I post these rankings more than anyone else doesn’t mean I attach more importance to them than anyone else.  Wikio asked me to co-ordinate this for them and I agreed, not having any reason to refuse.  I view it as a bit of harmless fun.  You’re entitled to disagree.  But every month I ask if anyone else would like to have the exclusive ands trail it on your blog – it’s an extra spike in hits if nothing else.  Hardly anyone ever volunteers.  It would be great if more people would like to share it around.

Secondly, I still stand by my challenge about making beer blogging more interesting.  Some people agree, but it’s upset some other people.

I hate upsetting people.  I hate spats and fights.  I have enough of them so believe me, I do know how much I hate them.  I write something I feel has to be written, and then when it all kicks off my stomach starts churning, I lose my appetite, and it’s hanging like a cloud at the back of my head, infecting everything I do, until it dies down.

My blogging challenge coincided with the decision of Impy Malting to return to the beer blogging world after a long absence (Hurrah!  Impy’s blogging again!).  Reading her return post (I recommend you do)  – which was largely about why we blog – helped me clarify what was behind my ‘blogging’s getting boring post’ better than I expressed it initially, so I want to expand on that here.

It comes down to why we blog.  I started blogging for the same reason I do all my writing – to turn on new people to beer and educate casual drinkers on delights they may not be aware of, and to try and help build a career as a full-time writer.  Both these reasons require a larger, general readership if I’m going to succeed. I also have to accept that I was established as a beer writer before I started blogging.

But different people start blogging for different reasons.  The wonder of blogging is that you can simply write what you like and publish it in seconds.  Some people might do it just to see the satisfaction of “I made this”.  Other people do it as a form of therapy.  Some do it just for themselves, and some do it for a specific group of people – friends or colleagues or family – with absolutely no care at all what anyone else might think.

No one has any right to tell these people what they should or shouldn’t be doing with their blogs.

So then we come on to the beer blogging community.  Impy talks about how she decided to blog about beer for her own reasons, and when she started doing it she found this community of beer bloggers (that’s you guys) and was delighted to be welcomed in by them.  It opened up a whole new dimension of chat, opinion sharing, ideas and friendship.  I’ve found exactly the same – and more.  I do the occasional bit of consultancy with brewers, and the first thing I tell them in marketing is that beer brands can now be built on line, that the blogging community represents a new medium, a new audience, through which beers can be made famous.  Ask Brew Dog.  Ask Crown Brewer Stu.



The thing about beer blogging is that, even though we may be read by a wider audience, the people who comment on our blogs tend to be other beer bloggers.  This tends to dictate the directions of the conversations we have, the subjects we cover.  We start to write specifically for other beer bloggers.  And ultimately that means the conversation becomes a closed loop, ultimately excluding someone who isn’t a member, or at least offering them no invitation to join in.

I include myself in this, more than anyone – shit, look how often I post the Wikio rankings – as Beer Nut pointed out, on that evidence I’m worse than anyone.  But I am my own harshest critic.  Well, apart from Roger Protz.  And my agent.  And the Beer Widow.  OK, I’m my fourth harshest critic.

My challenge to beer bloggers is a challenge to myself.  When I rewrote Man Walks into a Pub this winter I realised how far I’ve strayed from the original reasons I began writing about beer, and I want to get back to that place.

But it’s also a challenge to anyone who feels like sharing it.

If you blog about beer and you’re perfectly happy having a closed-loop chat with other beer bloggers, sharing in-jokes and comparing your latest discoveries – and I’m not making a value judgement there, it’s your right to do so – I have no right to tell you to do something differently.  So I unreservedly apologise if I’ve offended or come across as too bossy.

But if you’re blogging because, like me, you want to (a) continually improve as a writer and/or (b) be read by more people, my challenge still stands.

You never know – other beer bloggers might find it refreshing too.

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Wikio Rankings for April 2010 – and a call to action

Yes, it’s time once again to start arguing about what constitutes ‘influential’, ask each other what algorithms are, show off if you do know what algorithms are, and wonder aloud why anyone is reading Stonch’s blog months after he stopped posting – last month’s Wikio rankings are in, and they go live tomorrow.

And just look at this table.  It might look a bit familiar.  Now look at it again, paying particular attention to the movers and shakers – or lack of them:

1 Pete Brown’s Blog (=)
2 Pencil & Spoon (=)
3 Brew Dog Blog (=)
4 Tandleman’s Beer Blog (=)
5 The Beer Nut (=)
6 The Pub Curmudgeon (=)
7 Woolpack Dave’s beer and stuff blog (=)
8 Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog (=)
9 The Bitten Bullet (=)
10 `It’s just the beer talking` ? Jeff Pickthall’s Blog (=)
11 Called to the bar (=)
12 Spittoon (=)
13 The Wine Conversation (=)
14 Brew Wales (=)
15 Zythophile (=)
16 Real Ale Reviews (=)
17 Beer Reviews (=)
18 Jamie goode’s wine blog (=)
19 Reluctant Scooper (=)
20 Travels With Beer (=)

Ranking by Wikio

How weird is that?  Every single one of the top twenty blogs in the same spot it was in last month.

Let’s deal with the most obvious and popular suggestion first – it means something has gone wrong inside the big algorithm machine.

Well, I double-checked this with Wikio before I posted and they assure me it’s correct.  Certainly unusual, but definitely correct.

If it really is correct, it means that no beer or wine blog is any more or less influential than it was a month ago.

And the problem is, I can sort of believe that.

It might just be me, but the beer blogging world seems to have stagnated of late. Are people getting bored?  Busier?  Is everyone too preoccupied with the election or something?

Because I confess that I’ve started to find beer blogs a bit… boring.  Obviously mine isn’t.  Mine’s really interesting.  And if you’re reading this wondering if I’m talking about you, then I’m not talking about your blog either, honest – whoever you are.

That last paragraph was tongue in cheek, by the way.

But collectively, our online beer conversation does seem to have settled into a complacent rut.  It’s not any one person, but taken as a whole we all seem to be writing about what awesome beers we’ve had recently, how extreme they are, how rare they are, how hoppy or how aged they are.  Beer blogs have become an online beer geek diary, a hi-tec glorified form of ticking.

I brewed this beer.  I bought this beer.  I drank this beer.  In this pub.

Too many conversations form decaying orbits around brewing technicalities or beer definitions.

Could it be that the lack of action in the rankings reflects a lack of action – or at least a lack of momentum – in the blogs themselves?

This is not me sitting at number one slagging everyone else off.  I include myself in everything I’m saying here.  And I hardly posted in April.  Lots of other people posted less frequently than they normally do.  I have my individual reasons and I’m sure you do too.  But have we run out of interesting stuff to write about beer? We analyse beers so closely, have we done it to death?

I don’t think so.

So why don’t we try to shake it all up in May?

The lazy way to do this would be to start a fight (*looks uncomfortably at today’s earlier post*) but there are other ways too.  Try to wind someone up if you must – try to wind me up if you want, so long as you’re constructing an intelligent argument and not simply hurling abuse.  But also think about writing something heretical.  Write something that scares you.  Write something very personal.  Write something you don’t think any other beer blogger would or could write.  Turn that last pub visit into more a story with characters and themes and twists and gags.  Write something you’re not sure you agree with but just write it anyway, post and be damned – you can always write another post tomorrow saying you’ve changed your mind.

Think I’m out of order for saying this?  Think I’m being patronising or unfair or superior, or missing the point of what beer bogs are all about?  Think I should have a word with myself before challenging anyone else?  Excellent! Post an argument on your blog explaining why!

Of course, tomorrow Wikio may well reveal that, having checked, there was something wrong in the big machine after all.  If so I apologise for offending anyone.  But I still think we should try and rearrange the beer blogging furniture a little bit.

After these last two posts, the only thing I need to do now for my next post is meet my own challenge in a way that’s not slagging anyone off.  I will do this, I promise. In the interests of balance, I’m going to write a really positive post related in some way to the awesome achievements CAMRA as a body have made over the last 39 years.  Just as soon as I can think of an original and interesting way to do that…

Just heard there may indeed be a problem with the algorithm monster!  I’ll publish updates on this as they come through, and a revised table if necessary, but whatever the outcome I still think my challenge stands. 😉

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Wikio Rankings for February

The algorithms are in, and the rankings have been compiled for beer and wine blog rankings for February 2010. Lot’s of jostling and ooh look, I’m back on top! Barry M’s bitten bullet is rising steadily, and the fact that Jeff has finished his blog is starting to make an impact as it slides down three.

If you’d like to be included in the rankings and currently aren’t – or if you would like to exclusively reveal the monthly rankings on your blog next month – please drop me a line…

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I remember when it were all fields round here

Wading through mud at the moment trying to finish off the rewrites for the new edition of Man Walks into a Pub, due out 4th June with a spanking new cover from the fella who did Hops & Glory. Making up the trilogy with the H&G paperback will be a newly covered Three Sheets, which isn’t changing apart from that cover, but it’s lovely to see them all together looking like a set – my beer trilogy. It makes me feel like a proper grown-up writer.

I had lunch yesterday with someone I knew from the beer world before I’d had a single word published, and it made me think how rapidly everything has changed – when we knew each other I was working full-time in an ad agency, Stella Artois was widely respected as a quality beer and in double digit growth, Progressive Beer Duty didn’t exist so, therefore, neither did the British craft brewing revolution. Cask ale was in terminal decline and seemingly drunk by no one under 50. CAMRA had half the membership it does now and the mere thought of them as an organisation and the terrible image they were giving beer at the time made me seethe with rage and frustration – as did the fact that not a single beer writer seemed to criticise them in print.
Google was new, and most of us accessed it via a dial-up modem. Around the time I finally finished my first manuscript of MWIAP, I was in a meeting with someone who had a laptop on his desk that wasn’t plugged into anything. Nevertheless, at one point he said “I’ll just print that” and pressed some buttons. Christ, I thought, he’s pretending to print something. Why would he do that?
It was only when he returned with the printed document that I realised I’d just seen wireless networking for the first time. This was 2002. 18 months before, I’d read a cyberpunk thriller centred around the (fictitious, impossible) idea.
Christ, I sound like an old fart. But this is my point – it only seems like five minutes ago really. I still think of myself most of the time as a new kid on the beer writing block. It’s disorientating when I get a brief glimpse of self-awareness that I might be one of the old guard.
Do I feel like an old fart?
Well, today I had a quick look at Twitter and my blog roll – I’m trying to ration myself while I get this bloody book finished – and in the middle of overhauling some very outdated text I was struck by the sheer scale of what’s happening in beer now, loving it and at the same time feeling slightly panicked by the fact that, as Beer Writer of the Year, I should be somehow attempting to keep on top of everything and have a comment on everything, and that is utterly impossible now.
So I’m surprised to find that I have no view one way or the other on the wisdom of Brew Dog’s latest venture: I’d like to taste a 41% IPA and think it’s a fresh departure for super-strong beers, but I still had to roll my eyes when it was announced. I think Sink the Bismarck is a shit and self-indulgent name for the beer, but at the same time I really struggle to work up any moral outrage at making fun of the Germans and referencing the war.
I fins myself applauding Cooking Lager’s lout ticking post, but have no new comment to make on the whole ticking issue.
And on the neoprohibition stuff, I’m delighted to see Phil Mellows continuing to bring some excellent new findings and developments to light, but have to curtail myself from spending another entire month digging into the issue.
There are so many people writing about these things now, and they’re all worthy of coverage. So I’m not complaining – I’m just a bit overwhelmed at how much the collision of craft beer passion and new media has generated and wondering – both from a beer worlds and a personal point of view – where do we go next?
In the short term – back to revising chapter ten – the one that slagged off CAMRA…

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Wikio rankings for January 2010

I’ve now agreed with Wikio to be their ‘beer blog monitor’. As such, I get sneak previews of the monthly rankings and keep a lookout for any blogs that should be featured and aren’t.

Whether you think this is a bunch of self-congratulatory mutual backslapping or a credible guide to who’s blog is best, I don’t know many people who can resist a list. I find it alarming when people actually get angry about its very existence – this suggests to me a severe deficit in stuff happening in life offline. At the end of the day, it’s a bit of fun. If you think it’s more than that, have a word with yourself, so here it is – the charts for January:

1 Pencil & Spoon (+1)
2 Pete Brown’s Blog (+1)
3 Brew Dog Blog (-2)
4 Woolpack Dave’s beer and stuff blog (=)
5 Tandleman’s Beer Blog (=)
6 The Pub Curmudgeon (=)
7 The Beer Nut (=)
8 Jeffo’s Beer Blog (=)
9 The Bitten Bullet (+5)
10 `It’s just the beer talking` ? Jeff Pickthall’s Blog (+11)
11 Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog (+7)
12 Spittoon (-3)
13 Jamie goode’s wine blog (=)
14 Real Ale Reviews (-4)
15 The Wine Conversation (-4)
16 Impy Malting (+3)
17 Brew Wales (-5)
18 Reluctant Scooper (-3)
19 Bibendum Wine (-3)
20 Zythophile (-3)

Ranking by Wikio

Not much movement at all really in the top spots, though I think Brew Dog James’ month on a trawler in the North Sea is a pretty good excuse for slipping down the blog rankings. But congrats to Young Dredge for his perseverance in getting to the top spot – he’s taken a medium and run with it, working incredibly hard. Also nice to see Boak & Bailey, Impy and Jeff moving up.

Anyway, if you have or know of a blog you think should be featured, or if you would like to host the preview of the rankings yourself any time in the next few months, please let me know!