We’ve been going steady now nearly two years, and it’s probably time to start seriously considering taking our relationship to the next level. Unfortunately, I think you’ve changed and I think perhaps it’s time to “talk.”
When Stan at Appellation Beer first proposed The Session back in January of 2007, he started out with “Stouts,” writing:
There aren’t many rules. Simply pour yourself a stout (or stouts) and post on the topic March 2, looking ahead to St. Patrick’s Day or not and writing about any stout that isn’t Guinness, Murphy’s or Beamish (the Irish old guard – good beers but we’re writing about others). Should you worry about style? About getting the opinion of friends, about writing an official tasting note, about food? About the history of the beer or how its made? All optional.
In fact, the first three Session were particular beer styles. Five of the first ten were likewise beer styles as were four of the second ten we’ve done but none since we passed our teens and entered our twenties. So that means of 22 completed Sessions, only 9 (or about 40%) have been about beer but only 2 of the last ten (20%) have been about a particular kind of beer. And Session 23 will likewise be more of the same, though I want to be clear I don’t want to single anyone out for criticism. Most of the topics have been interesting on their own, I’m just starting to feel like we’re all trying to be too clever and veering away from our original purpose or vision.
As for me personally, it was my hope that with The Sessions, “a record will be created with much useful information about various topics on the subject of beer.” But lately it seems as if we’ve been spending more time talking about ourselves than the beer. Not that we’re not all incredibly interesting, but I’d like to suggest that we return to the subject that brought us together in the first place, our common interest: beer.
One of the strengths of doing something without a clear leader or overarching plan is that it allows for much creativity and individual writers’ personalities to shine through. That can also be a weakness, too, if we don’t keep our eyes on the prize. I don’t really know if there was an actual “goal” when we started or how many people will agree with me, but I’m going to throw this out there and see where the prevailing winds blow us.
So I’d like to suggest that beginning with February’s Session (our two year anniversary) and going forward, we all follow a few simple rules when choosing a topic for a Session. I’m also going to be so bold as to suggest that we do come up with a goal for The Sessions. While not strictly necessary, having a stated purpose I believe will make it easier to not stray in the future and keep us all focused on what we’re trying to accomplish with The Sessions. Here’s my first draft then. Feel free to join the discussion and offer your thoughts, criticisms (civilly, please) and suggestions.
Goals For “The Sessions”
- Encourage a lively discussion about beer.
- Educate people about some aspect of beer.
- Have fun.
Though not necessarily a goal, I think it’s important to remember that our audience isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) just one another, but people we’re hoping to draw into appreciating beer more fully and each topic more specifically. If each post is written in such a way that it causes the reader to seek out more information on the same topic and that extended story is there for the taking throughout the other Session posts, then that I would consider a successful Session. That is to say, anything that ignites the passions of a reader to read more on a particular subject should be the measure of success for this project, at least in my opinion.
But that’s it, simple and concise; encourage, educate and have fun.
Rules For Choosing A “Session” Topic or Theme
- Review past topics to avoid duplication.
- Closely review the last three Sessions to avoid choosing a topic too close to those recent ones.
- Restrict topic types, to the following per calendar year:
(if limit is reached, choose something different)
- Philosophical Topics (2 per annum)
- Memories & Nostalgic Topics (1 per annum)
- Beer & … (e.g., food, music; 1 per annum)
- Beer styles, type of beer, or beer-related (no limit)
- For Topic Types a, b & c above, they should never follow one another, that is they should always be bookended by a more beery theme.
- Consider the audience.
It is not my intention to stifle creativity in any way with trying to propose a few simple rules to follow. I’d like them to make each Session more meaningful. Hopefully, these rules should encourage all of us to simply think carefully about our topics when we try to come up with a theme. And my goal with trying to limit certain types of topics is merely to keep them diverse throughout the year and also maintain an interesting mix for anyone who happens by to see what the beer blogging community is up to. But the upshot is, I’d really like to see us talk about beer more often than not. If nothing else, that should be a goal in and of itself.
So that’s it, have at me. What do you all think? Goals? Topic Rules?