Go It Alone For The Next Session

session-the
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

session-the
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.

schlafly-pale-ale

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

stopwatch1
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?

session_logo_all_text_200

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.”

Lagunitas-R2D2
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

brookston
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.

session_logo_all_text_200

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

session-the
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.

Hand with Reflecting Sphere

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.

guinness-mirror

Make Lew Bryson’s Christmas A Happy One!

lew-bryson
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.

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

The Next Session: The Most Interesting Topic In The World

session-the
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.

Jay_Interesting
Mario having a little fun with Photoshop.

eBuzzing (Formerly Wikio) Beer Blog Rankings For December 2011

eBuzzing
The December 2011 standings may have been updated for December, though since there’s no North American presence or website, it’s hard to be sure. For those of you who still have a widget on your blog’s homepage, you may have noticed that the name has changed from Wikio to eBuzzing. As the so-called “consultant,” they told me that would coming back in September. My contact at Wikio also told me his employment contract was ending and he was unsure as to whether it would be renewed. In case it wasn’t, he also copied me on another person there who would be my contact in the event his contract wasn’t renewed. I’ve written e-mails to both of them since September and thus far have received no replies from anyone at eBuzzing.

If you have a widget and clicked on the link, you may also have noticed that it goes nowhere, to a “404 Error Not Found” page. Several people have written me, wondering what’s going on, and sadly, I’ve been unable to shed any light on the situation. They’re not exactly showing that the North American market is very important to them or their business. Gerard Walen, from RoadTrips4Beer, posted on their UK blog and got the following reply:

For the moment US rankings have not been incorporated into the site. We will notify you once the US rankings are once more included at the same high quality as our European rankings.

And to his follow-up, half-joking, question, they said:

For the moment we are focusing on European countries, but will be looking to include more filters for more countries in the future.

So apparently there are no North American rankings or website for now, and they thought it fairly unimportant to let anybody know, or even post that information on the new eBuzzing website. They don’t necessarily owe us an explanation, but it sure would have been nice if they’d let someone know or at least let that information be readily available for anyone who might have been interested in finding out what happened instead of just shutting down their North American operations.

Though curiously, the widgets that are still out there have changed, as if they’ve been updated for December. Every one of them except Jeff from Beervana has plummeted, dropping quite a bit, though a few that weren’t in the Top 20 last month now are. I only know this through the completely unscientific method of having visited every blog on the Top 20 list for the last six months to see if they have a widget and, if so, what their ranking is now, and comparing that to November.

UPDATE: Thanks to Bill Night from It’s Pub Night who figured out how to check any URL using the code from the widget. (Thanks Bill.) Based on that, I was able to sort out the Top 16, and several more using all the beer blogs that made the list over the last six months. Obviously, numbers 17-20 include some blogs that hadn’t made the list before. There are also others below 20 that haven’t been on the list lately, but I can’t really go through the complete list of beer blogs to fill in the missing ones. (Note: If you know your December ranking and it isn’t listed here, please drop me a note and I’ll add you.)

social-labs

eBuzzing December 2011 Beer Blog Rankings (Maybe)

1 Beervana (=)
2 Seen Through a Glass (Not in Top 20 in November)
3 Brewpublic (=)
4 A Good Beer Blog (=)
5 The New School (+1)
6 Appellation Beer Blog (-1)
7 It’s Pub Night (+1)
8 Brookston Beer Bulletin (-6)
9 Oakshire Brewing (+5)
10 The Brew Site (+9)
11 BetterBeerBlog (+2)
12 Beeronomics (Below Top 20 Last Month)
13 The Stone Blog (Not in Top 20 in November)
14 Drink With The Wench (-7)
15 Washington Beer Blog (-6)
16 The Not So Professional Beer Blog (Below Top 20 Last Month)
21 The Brew Lounge (Below Top 20 Last Month)
23 Hoosier Beer Geek (-12)
24 KC Beer Blog (-9)
26 The Daily Pull (Below Top 20 Last Month)
28 Seattle Beer News (-16)
31 Beer PHXation (-11)
33 The Pour Curator (Below Top 20 Last Month)
35 Beer In Baltimore (Below Top 20 Last Month)
36 San Diego Beer Blog (-20)
37 I Love Beer (Below Top 20 Last Month)
39 Road Trips for Beer (-22)
40 Beer-Stained Letter (Below Top 20 Last Month)
44 The Potable Curmudgeon (?)
49 Brewer’s Log (Blog) (?)
52 Yours For Good Fermentables (-39)
53 Top Fermented (-43)
58 Craft Austin (?)
65 Beer 47 (Below Top 20 Last Month)
67 Brewed For Thought (?)
68 Beer at 6512 (?)
69 Musings Over a Pint (?)
Session Beer Project (Below Top 20 Last Month)

This, of course, may be the last month for these rankings. I always stressed that this was just a bit of fun and that we shouldn’t take it too seriously. But I have to say that the way they’ve handled the transition from Wikio to eBuzzing has left a bad taste in my mouth. I certainly understand that changes have to be made when companies merge, but keeping the people who might want to know in the dark is never the right way to go about it, at least in my opinion. Especially when you consider that the merger was first announced two years ago, in December 2009. C’est la vie. It was fun while it lasted.

Happy Thanksgiving From The Brookston Beer Bulletin

turkey
I just finished my family’s Thanksgiving feast, enjoyed with a 2000 magnum of Our Special Ale from Anchor Brewing that I found nestled in the back of one of our refrigerators. Boy am I stuffed. Before the tryptophan kicks in and I’m found drooling on the sofa, I wanted to take a moment to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving-pilgrims-beer

I’m incredibly thankful that people come here to read what I write, see what I share and drink what I drink. Thank you from the bottom of my pint glass.
Turkey-beer
Happy Thanksgiving!

ThanksgivingGrowlerWebBanner10
And I love the mash-up Chicago’s Piece Brewery did with this Thanksgiving scene and their growlers.

Muppets’ Beer-Drinking Habits

muppets
I got a nice tweet from Gerard Walen of Road Trips For Beer, who’s obviously been paying attention enough to know how much of a Muppets fan I am. He had a chance to see an advance screening of the new Muppet film that opens Thanksgiving and he assures me that Porter and I “will love the movie.” Of that, I have little doubt. I’ve turned my whole family into Muppet fans by showing them all of the television shows and movies since they were little. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid, and have never really stopped loving their bad pun, groaner brand of humor ever since. But after seeing the film, Walen took it a step farther in a post: ‘The Muppets’ Movie Makes Me Wonder: What Beer Would They Drink? He’s come up with some pretty funny, inspired choices for the main characters. Makes me even more thirsty to see the movie later this week.

muppets-poster