North American Guild of Beer Writers Membership Drive

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For the last few years, I’ve been pestering some of my colleagues that we needed to revive the long dormant Beer Writers Guild that folded a decade or so ago. Happily, people less lazy than me then took up the cause and led the charge, especially Lucy Saunders, who did much of the heavy lifting. Little by little, we’ve gotten the band back together, and have been quietly rebuilding a trade group for those of us trying to make a living writing about beer. Just by word of mouth, we’ve rounded up forty members and are hoping to increase that. Dues for the new North American Guild of Beer Writers are $45 a year for a full membership, $25 for an associate membership and we also have $100 industry memberships for “those employed by breweries, allied industries or agencies, interested in supporting the Guild and outreach to beer writers.” Full details on membership can be found on the “Join Us” page. Here’s the basic information:

We are beer writers.

Sometimes we act as evangelists, advocates and celebrators. Other times we are antagonists, agitators and truth-seekers. We are authors, writers, publicists, bloggers and columnists. We tirelessly cover the brewing industry — and those who appreciate beer — across North America.

Many of us are self-employed or do this as a side “gig” in addition to our “real jobs.” Some of us are employed by breweries, beer distributors, beer stores and restaurants. Still others are publishers and event organizers, while some work for newspapers, websites, magazines and other media outlets.

We are an all-volunteer group dedicated to elevating the level of our craft as we cover the art of brewing.

We are beer writers. We strive to promote better beer.

Won’t you please join us in bringing better beer writing to North America?

We are inspired by learning from shared experiences, and believe that an annual writers’ competition will foster awareness and appreciation of beer and brewing in North America.

If you’re trying to make a living writing about beer, or even doing it as a side gig, please consider joining us at the NAGBW. Things are just getting started, but plans are afoot to have regional get-togethers, meetings at prominent national events, like GABF and the Craft Brewers Conference, and a competition for excellence in beer writing.

Join us to share in beer education, travel, guided tastings, conferences and more. We organize an annual writers contest to encourage public appreciation of beer and brewing. In addition, we organize events to increase members’ knowledge of beer and brewing, and to sharpen their writing, reporting, design and broadcast skills. The group also supports professional standards among its members and other members of the media.

We’re looking for people who take the craft of writing seriously, and who specialize in beer, and want to learn how to be a better writer, how to get more work and also have some fun with colleagues. I’m pretty sure our get-togethers will have better beer than the average trade guild.

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Beer In Art Reboot

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Once upon a time — okay, a couple of years ago — each Sunday I posted a work of art featuring beer or some aspect of brewing in my Beer in Art series. Sunday got increasingly busy with the family and it was taking a long time to research each artwork, so I quietly migrated the project to a Tumblr blog, also named Beer in Art. It’s been going strong ever since, and every day, not weekly, I post a new work of beer-themed art. The trade-off is that there isn’t as much information about each piece, but the advantage is more art, seven times as much to be exact. There’s nearly two year’s worth of daily art already there in the archives, stretching back to February 2011, when I made the switch.

For example, today’s work is by Robin Casey, a California artist, and is appropriately titled “Ring in the New Year … with Beer!” The art runs the gambit from old, traditional works to modern, abstract takes, along with artistic advertising and illustration, clever doodles and t-shirt art, amateur and professional works, from all over the globe, using paint, sculpture and a digital paintbrush; really anything that uses beer or beer’s ingredients as, or in, a work of art. Check it out every day, around Noon, for a new Beer in Art masterpiece.

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Next Session Begins Quest For My Precious

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For our 66th Session, our host, Craig Gravina, who writes Drink Drank. His topic takes us to the shire, to the land of the Hobbits, and into the dark cave where Gollum lost his precious ring: the One Ring to Rule Them All. Here’s how to start your own quest:

We all have our favorite brews — even if you say you don’t; deep, deep down we all do. From IPAs to Pilsners, Steam Beers to Steinbiers, something out there floats your boat. What if we look that to another level? What if you were to design the perfect brew—a Tolkienesque One Beer to Rule Them All. The perfect beer for you, personally. Would it be hoppy and dark or strong and light? Is it augmented with exotic ingredients or traditionally crafted? Would your One Beer be a historic recreation or something never before dreamt of? The sky is the limit on this one. If you need to travel back in time to brew at Belgian farm during the 1870s, go right ahead — just say hi to Doc Brown and the Delorean for me. Maybe you’ll need to mount a expedition to the treacherous Amazonian rain forest to bring back some chicha, to spike your brew with; or perhaps, you’ll just dust off that old Brown Ale homebrew recipe, tweak it a bit, and call it an evening.

I’d suspect that most of you out there probably have a good understanding about the brewing process — but if you don’t, no sweat, just wing it. This exercise isn’t about making sure you’ve checked all the right boxes for the BJCP or some homebrew competition. This Session is all about imagining the possibilities — no matter how ridiculous! Feel free to create a recipe, right down to the aplha acid in your hops or conjure up a review just like you’d do for any other beer. However you want to come at this, it’s your ultimate beer, your One Beer to Rule Them All!

One small caveat, however, you do need to name your concoction — no imaginary super beer would be complete without some glorified moniker to seal the proverbial deal!

So that’s your quest, to write about your precious, to find your one ring to rule them all — and try to do so without going bat shit crazy.

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So start obsessing, talking with a hiss and hanging around in dank, dark caves. That may be what you need to come up with your own perfect beer. But be sure to resurface into the light and leave the cave by Friday August 3 to let us know what you found. I just hope it’s not a green beer!

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Go It Alone For The Next Session

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For our 65th Session, our host, Nate Southwood writes about more than just beer at his Booze, Beats & Bites. In addition to music and food, his triple crown includes beer, of course, and the topic he’s chosen is “So Lonely,” meaning going to the pub to have a beer alone. Here’s how he describes what he means:

Speaking of fun, going to the pub with a bunch of mates is great… you have a few beers and a laugh, generally a fun time and all.

I love going to the pub with mates but sometimes I go to a pub alone and I enjoy it.

Other people say I’m weird for this as there seems to be a stigma attached to being in the pub alone — alcoholism.

There are many reasons why I go to the pub alone.

  • Sometimes I just want to spend some quality time alone that isn’t at home.
  • Sometimes I’m walking home and fancy a pit-stop.
  • Sometimes my mates are all busy with their girlfriends/wives/children and I want a pint.
  • Sometimes I just fancy going to the pub and observing the bizarre people around me.
  • Sometimes I want to sit down and write blogs on my tableaux while having a pint.
  • Sometimes I just want to play angry birds while having a pint.
  • Sometimes I just want to prop myself at the bar and discuss beer with the bartender.
  • Sometimes I want to explore pubs that I’ve never been to before but my mates don’t want to.
  • Sometimes I’m just a miserable bastard and don’t want to socialise but want a nice pint.

The way I see it is that I love beer and pubs and I don’t see why I should only go to the pub when I’m with other people.

Am I weird for going to the pub alone?

How do you feel about going to the pub alone? Do you feel it’s necessary to be around friends to spend time in a pub?

So that’s “So Lonely.” It’s funny that given the obvious connection to the Police song So Lonely, both Stan and I both instead thought of George Thorogood’s I Drink Alone and its quintessential philosophy “You know when I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself.”

So that sounds like an interesting, albeit lonely, task. Besides, given that it’s two days after July 4, you’ll probably be craving some “alone time.” Just remember not to drunk type your blog post on July 6 when you share your isolated drinking experiences.

Next Session Pales In Comparison

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For our 64th Session, our host, Carla Companion — a.k.a. The Beer Babe — who these days is writing at Beer Utopia, among others. She’s posted her Session announcement at both The Beer Babe and Beer Utopia, and it looks like you can leave a comment with your Session contribution on either page. Her topic, Pale in Comparison, is a return to our roots with a focus on a particular style of beer: Pale Ale. Here’s how she explains her plan:

What is the one beer style usually makes up the first position in the sample flight, but yet is usually the one that we never get really excited about? The Pale Ale.

While this style serves as the foundation to its big-hoppy-brother the India Pale Ale, lately “Pale Ale” has become a throwaway term. I hear bartenders and servers using it to describe everything from Pilsners to unfiltered wheat beers (I wish I was kidding).

Whether American (typically a bit hoppier) or English (a little more malty), these brews can be complex, interesting and tasty, and are all too often fast-forwarded through in a tasting or left as the “eh, guess I’ll have a pale ale” decision.

Your mission — if you choose to accept it — is to seek out and taste two different pale ales. Tell us what makes them special, what makes them forgettable, what makes them the same or what makes them different.

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So that sounds like a fun task. She’s right about Pale Ales getting overlooked these days. It used to be one of the most popular styles. In the early days of the microbrewery, everybody had a pale ale. So stay out the sun — and keep your complexion pale — and
be here June 1 to tell us about your pale drinking experiences.

Session #63: The Beer Moment

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Our 63rd Session is hosted by Pete Brown from the UK, and as his Session falls on Star Wars Day (May 4, “May the Fourth,” “May the fourth be with you”) he’s decided on a similarly cheeky topic: The Beer Moment. Read his entire stream of consciousness or the abridged version below.

I write to try to encourage other people to share the simple joy of beer as much as I do, to switch on people who drink beer but don’t particularly care about it that much, to suggest to them that there’s so much more they might enjoy. No one says you have to do it this way, and no one ever made me the spokesperson for beer. It’s just how I decided to write, in the same way others decided to write in an opinionated way about what they love, and what they hate.

So in that spirit, my choice of topic — with 62 topics already covered — is this: simply, the Beer Moment.

What is it?

Well, what is it to you? What does that phrase evoke for you?

That’s the most important thing here. Switch off and float downstream, what comes to mind? Don’t analyse it — what are the feelings, the emotions?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently, because I’ve been talking about it to various people who are working hard to try to improve the image of beer in the UK. Because whether we articulate it or not, whether we drink vile, sunstruck Corona or barrel aged imperial stout brewed with weasel shit, it’s about the moment far more than the liquid itself. The only people who disagree with me on this are people I wouldn’t want to share a beer with.

The moment — for me — is relaxation, reward, release, relief and refreshment. It’s a moment to savour, a moment of mateship, potential, fulfilment, anticipation, satisfaction, and sheer bliss.

It’s different from the moment you drink wine or spirits — it’s more egalitarian, more sociable. It’s not just about the flavour, nor the alcohol. It’s about the centuries of tradition and ritual, the counterpoint to an increasingly stressful life, and the commonality, the fact that it means the same thing to so many.

At least — I think it does. What does it mean to you?

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I was especially taken by Pete’s instructions, where he paraphrased the opening line of the Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows (one of my favorite lesser-known Beatles songs), which in full is “Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream.” The phrase itself is from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and that sounds like an excellent place to start; relaxed and floating, mind free of distractions — beer in hand.

The “beer moment” is for me the essence of what makes beer one of my life’s passions, distilled — or perhaps more correctly fermented — down to its core ingredients. In many ways, as Don Younger famously quipped, “It’s not about the beer, it’s about the beer.” And as inscrutable as that may sound, I believe Don was on to something. While beer is, of course, the liquid glue that binds us all together, it’s the opportunities and potential that sharing that beer creates that is the essence of the beery moment for me. Beer is the great facilitator. I makes so many other things possible, most of them entirely positive. If that’s starting to sound too zen or new agey, don’t despair. Let me put it another way.

My job often requires me to drink beer alone, which is far from my favorite thing to do. It’s perhaps the worst way to have a beer, even though it’s sometimes necessary. Alone, beer is stripped of all its intangibles, its raison d’etre. You can evaluate the constituent parts, its construction, even how they come together as a finished beer. In other words, on a technical basis. And that’s how you should begin, but there must be a discussion waiting at the end of that process. I just finished judging the World Beer Cup in San Diego this week, and even in this august setting, after silently scoring the beer and making notes, a lively discussion follows each flight. That’s as it should be, whether in a professional judging setting or the local pub. It’s the sharing of the beer that makes the moment.

The number of ways, places and settings in which beer can be shared is limitless. It has adapted itself to virtually all societies, civilizations and communities since, almost quite literally, the beginning of time. It has been an integral part of countless ritual moments, both solemn and casual; a part of people’s lives from birth to death, used to celebrate both moments and many more in between. Of all of the moments in our lives — something on the order of 39,420,000 minutes for the average person — those that involve sharing a beer, those “beer moments,” are infinitely more enjoyable, more memorable and will be the ones that we remember on our deathbed. In a sense, with a few notable exceptions, the beer moments are the ones that truly matter most.

That’s at least in part why I’m also so obsessed with holidays. They provide yet more reasons to celebrate, and celebration almost always means sharing a beer. Though in truth I believe even no reason at all is a perfectly fine reason to share a beer with a friend, and indeed two friends coming together is in and of itself reason enough, I’ve always enjoyed finding new reasons to celebrate life. And why not, I’ve only got — fingers crossed — a few decades left as a beer drinker, and there is much to celebrate, many more beers to share with friends and family. I want as many of the moments left to me as possible to be “beer moments.”

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I love this very appropriate artwork that a Lagunitas fan sent into them, and which they posted on their Facebook page.

Session #62: What Drives Beer Bloggers

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Our 62nd Session is hosted by Angelo De Ieso from Portland’s Brewpublic and he’s asking the musical question: What Drives Beer Bloggers?. Personally, I use a car, but I have a feeling that’s not what he’s talking about. You read can his complete announcement, or in a nutshell, here’s what he’s driving at:

The title question really gets to the heart of the matter: “What Drives Beer Bloggers?” Why do people decide to start a blog? One thing seems true of most blogs: they are easy to start. All you need is a a computer and a rudimentary understanding of the Internet to initiate your meanderings. The difficulty resides in keeping up with content and reaching an audience. What draws folks to your site? And, what makes you think people want to read what you write?

Your mission as a craft beverage blogger reading this post, should you choose to accept it, is to compose a post on the topic of “What Drives Beer Bloggers.” There are no rigid guidelines about how to write about this topic but we’d certainly love to hear about the history behind your blog, your purpose in creating it, its evolution, and/or what your goals in keeping it going.

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Today’s tale begins in a world before blogging, circa 2001 B.B., September 10 to be exact. Well … sort of, but it’s more dramatic this way. While the world changed for everybody on September 11, 2001, the night before it changed for just me, or at least for both me and my wife. Around 10:00 p.m. that night, after many agonizing hours, she gave birth to our son Porter. I spent the night in our hospital room with her, and very early the next morning a nurse came in and told us. “Turn on the television, something’s going on in New York.” We switched it on just in time to see the second tower being hit by an airplane. “What sort of world had we just brought our son into,” I wondered.

I had recently left my job as the beer buyer for Beverages & more and had joined the staff of the Celebrator Beer News. It had always been our agreement that I would take care of the kids, while my wife pursued her career, but Tom Dalldorf had made me an offer that was hard to refuse. After Sarah’s maternity leave, he magnanimously agreed to let me bring my son to work every day, in effect creating a nursery at the Celebrator offices, then located in San Leandro. He had no idea what he was getting himself into, but that’s a story for another day.

For the most part, it worked out pretty well, but there was a problem. By the time Porter was one, he wasn’t talking. We told his pediatrician we were concerned, but she told us that every child develops at his or her own pace, and not to worry. At eighteen months, the story was unchanged, and it repeated itself when he turned two. Words were coming, but at a much slower pace than his peers, and we even were starting to think he might be deaf, as you could clap your hands loudly behind his head and get no reaction whatsoever. He was tested, but it was inconclusive. By three, he knew maybe 100 or so words, but rarely strung two of them together. We visited speech therapists and other professionals at the Okland Children’s Hospital but little progress was being made. What does this have to do with beer blogging? Hang on, it’s coming.

My sister-in-law, who’s a research librarian, came upon something we hadn’t considered. She noticed some other symptoms we had not focused on that could indicate Porter might be on the continumum of Autism Spectrum Disorders. We had him tested, both by a doctor and the local school district, and both came back with that he was exhibiting autism-like characteristics. He was assigned to a special preschool and we started reading everything we could about autism, trying to make sense of it. There was an odd sense of relief insofar as knowing what it might be was a lot better than knowing nothing and being left wondering what was wrong for the previous two years. One thing was clear, Porter would need a lot more of our attention. The decision was obvious. I left my full-time job at the Celebrator to stay home with Porter, to shuttle him to his preschool, to physical therapy appointments, to play therapists, to host tutors in our house; in short to do everything we could to help him.

Despite having no regrets and believing firmly it was the right decision, it was not exactly intellectually stimulating or fulfilling. I craved adult conversation. I craved people just to talk with, but even at the playground, the other mothers tended to band together and fathers were routinely shunned. It was like having all stimuli removed, as if you were living in a social vacuum. I read a lot; at least a book, often two, a week. I started writing more. I completed a NaNoWriMo, writing a 50,00-word novel in 30 days. I surfed the internet … a lot. And then I discovered blogging. When Porter was first diagnosed as autistic, I was fielding calls and e-mails from across the country, with friends and family wanting to know how he was doing, what was going on, what they could do to help. Which was great, but I found myself answering the same questions, giving the same speeches, etc. over and over again. There had to be an easier way. There was. I launched the Brookston Family Blog in October of 2004 in order to let people read about how Porter was doing and even so they could see pictures of him, too. My intent, which is still there on the sidebar, was simple. “Our hope is that this blog will help us deal with all the issues we’ll be facing and keep our friends and family informed as well.”

I discovered that I really loved blogging. Not only was it the perfect vehicle to document what was happening in our lives, but I just loved the challenge of writing something every single day. It was, in a sense, liberating, cathartic and also fun. I started writing about anything and everything that was important to me, as well, and that included beer, of course. The upshot was that Porter responded slowly at first, but then began making terrific progress, and his language skills improved dramatically. Eight years later, Porter is in fourth grade, and got a perfect score on 7 out of 10 of his most recent state aptitude tests (and was in the 90+ percentile of the other 3). Most people who meet him never guess that he’s anything but a typical 10-year old. He’s smart, funny, kind and passionate about life. We notice things; little things. He has trouble making friends, though he gets along with most people. But there’s still some social awkwardness. He’s obsessive. That’s something he’ll probably always have to deal with, but we know friends whose children are not faring as well, and we feel fortunate that’s he’s come so far.

When I left the Celebrator, Tom invited me to continue on as the director of the blind panel tastings. It was only once every two months, and it was a way to keep my toe in the beer world. I also continued to attend beer events whenever I could, and began blogging about those as well. As Porter continued to make such great progress, I started thinking about getting back to work in some fashion. I was itching for it, and thought perhaps I could start taking on some freelance work while continuing to stay at home with not just Porter, but also our daughter Alice, who was born in in July of 2004. I started doing a regular column in the Ale Street News. I did a few features for All ABout Beer and the newly launched Beer Advocate magazine, among others. It seemed to work; that I could balance my family and continue to write from home. My wife and I discussed it and concluded that I would make a go of writing from home and in January of 2006, I separated the beer posts from my family blog and launched the Brookston Beer Bulletin. I set out with three goals in mind, though those quickly became five. The original three were track, share and support, followed shortly thereafter by report and monitor the industry as a whole.

Things rarely work out as expected, and this is no exception. I think I expected to quietly use the Bulletin to follow stories that I’d then pitch as stories to print media, fleshing them out in draft form, and commenting on them as I went along. Then, as now, there were no rules about how to blog. I wrote about what I was interested in and, if I was alone in that, so be it. I had no grand illusions about trying to build an audience. It wasn’t that I didn’t want people to read what I wrote, but I never felt the need to try to figure what the people wanted and give it to them. As far I knew, I had no people so better to please myself and hope for the best.

But blogging became its own reward, and indirectly led to lots of other paying work. And at least some people apparently were interested in what I wrote. At many beer events and conferences, people would stop me and tell me how much they enjoyed the Bulletin, which was — and still is — immensely gratifying. I’ve never had any sort of grand plan, or strategy. I’ve just tried to be myself and write from my heart about what struck me as interesting, or important, or worthwhile, or whatever. If nothing else, blogs are personal. I think that’s a part of their essence. They’re not like a newspaper, or a magazine article. They’re closer to the essay form than reporting, even though in many cases journalism is taking place. You have to be honest and authentic or people will see right through you. I try to write in the same voice I might use if I was having a friendly conversation with someone sitting next to me on the couch, sharing a beer. As a result, sometimes I say too much, or reveal personal details; what some might consider an “overshare.” C’est la vie. That’s just me being me.

I remember a conversation I had in 2006 at the Craft Brewers Conference, which was in Seattle that year, with Stan Hieronymus, where he lamented the fact that at that time there were so few beer blogs, especially compared to wine and even food blogs, which even then were quite numerous. Mine was only a few months old at that point, and there weren’t many of us. Fewer still from six years ago are around today, too. But boy how that’s changed in the intervening years. Beer blogs now number close to 1,500 worldwide, and that’s not including blogs written by breweries, bars, distributors and other related industry businesses.

After six, or even eight, years, I can’t imagine slowing down or not blogging every day. It’s become such a big part of me, and what I do. I assume that technologies will change and eventually blogging will give way to something else, perhaps something we can’t even yet imagine. But blogging has been such a useful tool that has enriched my life experience, that I can’t believe I won’t be doing it, or something like it, for the rest of my years. It’s almost like breathing. A writer needs to write, and I could just as easily keep a paper journal that I doodle in each day and never share with anyone. But it’s so much more fun mentally doodling for an actual audience, one that tells you when you’re on the right track and has no qualms about arguing with you when they think you’re not. It’s thrilling that so many people even care about some of the same things that I do, even if they don’t always agree 100%. In fact, I’d be worried if they did. I don’t really understand the appeal of “dittoheads.” I’d much rather have an audience that wants to discuss, analyze and debate, so long as they’re not hostile, of course. Healthy discourse is best, especially over a few beers. And in the end, that’s why we do it, or at least why I do it. Anything that leads to more beer has to be a good thing.

Next Session To Ponder Why We Do What We Do

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For our 62nd Session, our host, Angelo De Ieso from Portland’s Brewpublic, is shining a light inward to see if we can figure out why each one of us does what he or she does; why we do what we do; do be do be do. Or to be more specific, What Drives Beer Bloggers?

The title question really gets to the heart of the matter: “What Drives Beer Bloggers?” It is apparent that blogging in general serves the authors in a variety of means. First and foremost, it is important to look at what a blog really is. A portmanteau, or a blending of two words, “Web” and “log”, blogging is defined as “a Web site containing the writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites.” Sounds a tad narcissistic to some. In fact, the popular, often humorous collection of modern day colloquialisms and turns-of-phrase that offer a somewhat democratic glance into our culture known as UrbanDictionary.com has an interesting series of takes on the matter. Submitted definitions on the site are rated by readers and ranked according to popularity. Here, the most popular definition of “blog” is: “A meandering, blatantly uninteresting online diary that gives the author the illusion that people are interested in their stupid, pathetic life. Consists of such riveting entries as “homework sucks” and “I slept until noon today.” You can see what we mean.

So is narcissism really at the heart of what it means to be a blogger? Perhaps on some level it is. After all, one of the underlying reasons any of us construct our blogs is to be read. Still, is this to prop our own egos or to contribute to the general betterment and proliferation of that which we seek to project? With Brewpublic, we have always seen our blog as an opportunity to first and foremost serve as a platform to promote the culture of craft beer. You may have noticed the recent rise of craft beer culture in what many dub “the Craft Beer Revolution.” The fact that so many beer blogs have emerged in recent years is a testament to the advancements that quality and innovation have served in our society. Further it is a nod to the ever growing acknowledgement of the prominence of the Internet and social media. Wine bloggers were pioneers in the evangelistic efforts of craft beverage drinker, likely due to the preconceived notion that wine is a drink of social importance, whereas beer has continued to position itself as more than just a lowbrow tipple. As made evident by the staggering growth in craft brewing in our country (more than 1,700 breweries now in the United States), craft beer is beginning to garner the respect is has so long been neglected. In 2012, the third annual Beer Bloggers Conference will be held in Indianapolis (the first two were held in Boulder, CO and Portland, OR) and is another exemplification of this division’s growth. According to the conference’s blog, today there exists close to 900 citizen beer blogs in North America. From “A Beer A Day” to “Zythum-An Ale Analogy“, each blog poses a unique glimpse into craft beer and what it might implicate.

But why do people decide to start a blog (Okay, so not all “blogs” are personal. Many breweries have recognized the value of social media in modern society)? One thing seems true of most blogs: they are easy to start. All you need is a a computer and a rudimentary understanding of the Internet to initiate your meanderings. The difficulty resides in keeping up with content and reaching an audience. What draws folks to your site? And, what makes you think people want to read what you write?

Your mission as a craft beverage blogger reading this post, should you choose to accept it, is to compose a post on the topic of “What Drives Beer Bloggers.” There are no rigid guidelines about how to write about this topic but we’d certainly love to hear about the history behind your blog, your purpose in creating it, its evolution, and/or what your goals in keeping it going.

So start gazing into your crystal ball and see what’s staring back.

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Mirror, mirror, behind the bar. Who’s the fairest beer blogger of all? So let’s put on our self-reflecting caps and see if we can figure out our individual motivations without resorting to omphaloskepsis. Now’s your chance to get as personal as you want to this April 6, the first Friday in April.

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Make Lew Bryson’s Christmas A Happy One!

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Okay people, time to step up to the bar. A month ago, a new project was announced on Kickstarter starring my friend and colleague Lew Bryson. The project is being produced by Rudy Vegliante of Green Leaf Productions and the idea is to create a series of six half-hour television shows starring Lew. With 30 days to go, only 6% of the needed funds to make the show a reality have been raised. A mere 65 people have pledged $3,716 of the $60K needed. Frankly, that’s pathetic.

C’mon, beer people. I’ve pledged $300, and would have gone higher if I wasn’t trying to make a rather large purchase at the moment. Surely, there are more than 65 people who have benefitted from Lew Bryson’s reviews, laughter, rantings, writings, speaking engagements, etc. Just his being in the beer community makes it a better place. We’ve all seen what happens when non-beer people try to make a TV show about beer. At best it comes off half-baked, full of misinformation, half-truths and propaganda. At worst, it’s a disaster. I’ve personally been involved in trying to get several such projects off the ground. None have gotten very far. It’s tough. Most people outside our rarified community don’t quite get why we’re so passionate about it, and that shows in the finished products that have been made so far.

So here’s a chance for one of our own to be the voice of craft beer, celebrating it in a way we can probably all agree with. And with guaranteed laughter, guffaws and unbridled chuckles thrown in for good measure. Lew is the right big galoot for this job.

Lew has just over 2,500 twitter followers, I have a little over 4,000. Even assuming for some overlap, that’s got to be around 6,000. If each one of you pledged just $10, Lew would be home for Christmas, with all the funding he needs. It’s the price of about two pints, give or take. Surely that’s not too much to create a one-of-kind television show about craft beer, by craft beer, for craft beer. Think of it as giving back to the beer community that has enriched your life, in the spirit of the holidays. Give Lew Bryson a Malty Christmas and a Hoppy New Year.

You can get all the details from my previous post or, better still, directly from the Kickstarter project page for American Beer Blogger.

Okay, I’m climbing back down off my soapbox. Resume holiday merriment.

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Me and Lew at Berkeley’s Triple Rock last year.

The Next Session: The Most Interesting Topic In The World

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Our 59th Session is something of a departure, as the topic could just as properly be about beverages other than beer as beer itself. Our host, Mario Rubio from Brewed For Thought was looking to branch out of beer and explore our other liquid passions. Seizing upon a suggestion I made regarding the Dos Equis pitchman — a.k.a. The Most Interesting Man in the World — who’s fond of remarking “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do….,” Mario turned it on his head, and is asking beer bloggers to opine about the opposite, as in “I Almost Always Drink Beer, But When I Don’t….” But I’ll let him explain:

With the New Year looming and a month of Christmas and Holiday parties to enjoy there are plenty of opportunities to get into a different beverage besides beer, alcoholic or otherwise. It was with this in mind that I was reminded of a conversation I had one day with Jay Brooks. Looking for advice on how to squeeze some blood from this stone of beer blogging, Jay told me a lot of writers have to look outside of beer to help make a complete income. Upon bringing this up as a Session topic he even offered up a much better title than I would have thought up.

So as we are all incredibly interesting people, and almost always drink beer, let’s talk about what we drink when not drinking beer. Maybe your passion for coffee rivals that of craft beer, or it could be another alcoholic beverage such as scotch. My daughter being a root beer fan would appreciate her dad reviewing a few fizzy sodas. Maybe you have a drink that takes the edge off the beer, be it hair of the dog or a palate cleanser during the evening.

Beer cocktails, wines, ciders, meads, you name it as long as it’s not beer. Try to tie it in with craft beer in some way for extra credit. Be creative and I’ll see you guys in the new year.

So put down that beer and pick up a … well, you decide. See you here next year, on Epiphany — January 6, 2012 — where perhaps you’ll have your own epiphany.

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Mario having a little fun with Photoshop.