Today is the 42nd birthday of Jason Petros, who is part of The Brewing Network, and co-host on the Session, host of Dr. Homebrew, plus he inexplicably has a podcast about Disneyland called EarzUp Podcast. He really likes the happiest place on earth. He even has a side business, covears, selling colorful covers for your mouse ears. Oh, and he’s the social media director for the Brewing Network, not to mention an avid homebrewer, of course. Join me in wishing Jason a very happy birthday.
This month’s Session was notably our second-to-last, and I chose the appropriately forward-looking theme, The Future of Beer Blogging. With only around six submissions, I think we’ve proved the point that interest in The Session has been waning and that it is time to, in the words of the Disney ice queen character, Elsa, “let it go.” Here’s what the most loyal and ardent beer bloggers still playing along to the bitter end had to say about the future of beer blogging:
Appellation Beer Blog – Long Live Beer Blogging: In his post, Stan, who created The Session, is ever hopeful and while he believes The Session is ready to be put out to pasture, he’s confident that beer blogging itself is not dead, but just one of many tools in the writer’s toolbox of ways to reach an audience. Like any technology, it’s continually evolving and happily a “diversity in beer storytelling” will go on. Hear, hear!
The Beerverse – Goodbye, Session. Hello, Something Else??: Dean has been writing about beer now about five years and is a true blogger in Alan’s sense of the word, meaning he’s blogging for blogging’s sake. (Full disclosure, Dean was a student of mine when I taught my beer class at Sonoma State University, although I’d met him before that.) While he never did host (although he came close a couple of times), he did participate and even reached out about what he could do to keep it going. He’s come up with a plan to do something similar through a bi-weekly newsletter he publishes, so give his post a read and see if that’s something you could get behind.
Boak & Bailey – The Penultimate Session: B&B understandably winced a little at my navel-gazing topic, but decided to play along anyway since the “news that the Session is expiring” made it a reasonable enough moment to weigh in. As with the majority of opinions expressed, Boak & Bailey also agree that blogging itself is not in decline, and continue to “find plenty of great posts that we think are worth sharing, and those pieces seem more adventurous, stylish, erudite and varied than much of what was around a decade ago.” They also remark that “the feeling of global community has diminished,” replaced “by many active, more locally-focused sub-communities: the pub crawlers, the historians, the tasting note gang, the podcasters, the social issues crew, the jostling pros and semi-pros, the pisstakers, and so on.” In a nutshell, it’s evolved, and evolving. They conclude with this hopefulness. “[O]n balance, we see the future of blogging as being much like its past – sometimes supportive, sometimes bad-tempered, over-emotional, churning like primordial soup as blogs are born in fits of tipsy enthusiasm and die of ennui – but also more fractured, more varied, and less cosy.”
The Brew Site – The Future of Beer Blogging: Jon Abernathy, who’s been a host multiple times, continues Stan’s line of reasoning, more forcefully perhaps, that beer blogging isn’t going anywhere. A point which I actually agree with, but which I just stated less elegantly, opening the door for him to rightly school me (us) about how ubiquitous the blogging platform is, it’s just that it’s morphed into many different, sometimes unrecognizable, forms. And while in part I was referring to the traditional standalone blog of one person writing from their perspective, I take his meaning and “get his point.” As he concludes, “Beer blogging continues on.” And so it goes.
A Good Beer Blog – The King Is Dead! Long Live The King!!: Alan also points out that “beer blogging is one type of writing in a broad range of formats,” but believes “[i]t’s the only one that provides for long form creative writing on anything that strikes the author’s fancy, without concern for pay or editorial intrusion.” And I agree with him that that aspect was certainly one of its hallmarks and likewise agree that “there is a place for such things.” The simple idea of us all taking up a discussion of a single topic was, simply, genius, and has been a highlight of the last decade. Like Alan, I hope we can find something to replace it that truly gets a lot us wordy types energized and excited.
Yours For Good Fermentables – The beer blog is dead. Long live the beer blog.: Thomas provides a run down of how beer information online is changing by detailing the decision to shut down The Session and Jonathan Surrat reviving his old beer blog aggregator in a more modern form called ReadBeer. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or as Thomas puts it, “The beer blog is dead. Long live the beer blog. Or, at least, long live the beer journal, public or private, online or pen-and-paper.”
If you know of any Session posts I missed, or if I missed yours, please drop me a note at “Jay (.) Brooks (@) gmail (.) com.” Happy Holidays.
The final Session will be hosted by the man, the myth, the legend, Stan Hieronymus at his Appellation Beer Blog. His topic will be “One More for the Road” The date for the next Session will be a day which will live in infamy, December 7, 2018, although Stan will give everybody a few more days and won’t be posting his roundup until the 12th. It’s only one more, why not help us go out with a bang and participate in the final Session?
This is fun. The Belgian Brewers’ Association has released a set of 60 beer emojis, each one a different member beer in its proper proprietary and logo glass.
While not technically emojis (they’s not approved by the Unicode Consortium, and are really virtual stickers) they’re still pretty cool. They can be downloaded at Apple’s app store or Google Play. While the website and news stories mention 60 different ones, I count 118 emojis for iMessage and stickers for WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, unless I’m missing duplicates. Sadly, I don’t see one for Orval, which is a shame.
I’m not sure how useful they are, but it’s certainly a fun idea. Now if only I get them to work, but that’s another story.
Last year, the total economic impact of the beer brewing industry in the state of Maine was approaching the same scale as the lobster industry. Let that sink in for a second. Maine – which is arguably *best* known for lobsters – is shifting to an economy strongly supported by brewing.
Growing alongside of the boom of breweries are many small businesses that are supporting, or supported by the craft beer industry. Maine is now home to a malt processing facility, and several hop farms. There are multiple beer tourism-focused businesses that help connect visitors to the state’s best beer offerings. There are companies that create beer-related apparel for beer fans, some that have designed unique bottle openers and manufacture them in-state. Maine is also home to a company that manufactures and installs brewing equipment, and another whose sole mission is to clean the lines that serve up that beer to thirsty beer fans.
Yet, we rarely give these businesses a second thought. They are the second beer economy, often operating behind-the-scenes. I think we could give them a bit more credit for keeping things growing, sharing the products of our local breweries with more people, and sometimes even literally keeping the beer flowing.
For this month’s session, let’s talk about those businesses in the beer world that aren’t breweries. What are the roles that they can play? What opportunities still exist for new niche roles to be developed? What can local/state/regional governments do to encourage this kind of diversity of businesses around an industry?
I’m excited to hear your thoughts and stories.
So this June 3, start thinking like a dismal scientist and look at the economic indicators, the market forces and the new economic models. To participate in the June Session, leave the link to your post in a comment to the original announcement or tweet your link to her at the @beerbabe on or before Friday, June 3.
For our 110th Session, our host will be Sean Inman, who is on a Beer Search Party. For his topic, he’s chosen a tiny Twitterific topic, which he explains concisely, as befits the topic. Apparently Twitter is strongly considering lifting the 140-character maximum that has been its defining feature since it debuted in 2006, and replacing that with a limit of 10,000.
So, before the 140 letter limit is lost, how about us in the beer blogging realm take one last crack at “original” Twitter.
Some possible routes to take:
- write your own beer theory in multi-parts. Be it 1/15 or 1/20
- use Twitter for your own craft beer April Fool’s Day prank
- channel your inner web troll and go all negative on a topic
- debate or applaud the points made by Daniels in under 140 characters
- talk about brevity and how it affects writing about beer
You can do it on Twitter or on your own blog or both. Just no Instagram.
So this April Fool’s Day, say a lot with a little, or say a lot with a lot, just don’t stay silent. To participate in the April Session, leave the link to your post in a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, April 1.
For our 108th Session, our host will be Jon Abernathy, who writes the Brewsite in Bend, Oregon. For his topic, he’s asking us to consider being Snowed In, which is in fact his topic. Jon goes on to explain what he means by that in his announcement for the February Session:
The theme is “Snowed In,” and I want it to be open-ended. It’s the first week of February—we are solidly in the grip of the winter, which means hunkering down from the cold and, depending on where you live, waiting for warmer days to thaw out the ice and snow. But perhaps it’s one of those winters, where the snow starts falling… and falling… and falling some more, and the next thing you know, schools are closed, there’s four or more feet of snow on the ground—and you are effectively snowed in and not going anywhere.
For those of you living in the southern climes who don’t have snow to worry about, perhaps it’s some other stormy situation keeping you indoors—hurricanes or tropical storms, for instance. You tell me—I live northerly!
So what’s next? That is what I want you to write about—as it pertains to beer, of course! Not sure where to start? Here are some suggestions to hopefully inspire some ideas:
- What style(s) of beer do you prefer for this cold weather? Open one up and write about it.
- Do you dip into the stash or cellar, and drink something special? Does the occasion warrant it? Why, or why not?
- When you know the weather’s coming, do you stock up on a favorite or go-to beer? What makes you pick this particular beer?
- Are you a homebrewer? Maybe this is the perfect time for a brew day—what would you brew? Have you brewed in the snow before?
- Alternatively, perhaps you have a hodge-podge of brewing ingredients lying around but nothing definitive—could you MacGyver up a homebrewed beer from only what you have on hand?
- Imagine you were snowed in at a cabin in the mountains for the winter. What one beer would you want with you, and why? (Think “desert island beer” but colder.)
- There’s plenty of time to catch up on reading; what beer book(s) would you read? If not a beer book, what would you be reading—and what beer would you pair with it?
I hope these can get you started, but feel free to write about whatever you like, as long as it has something to do with beer and being snowed in, on Friday, February 5.
So what does winter mean for your beer consumption. Does it go up or down. Does being stuck indoors effect it? And how does the weather change what you choose to drink? Lots of questions but since these beers won’t drink themselves and you won’t find any answers until you start drinking, I guess you know what to do. To participate in the February Session, leave the link to your post in a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, February 5.
For the 107th Session, our host will be Dan Conley, who writes the brewery blog for the Community Beer Works in Buffalo, New York. For his topic, he’s asking us to consider whether breweries are our friends, or not, by bluntly asking the question. “Are breweries your friends?” Dan goes on to explain what he’s looking for in his announcement for the January Session:
To be in business nowadays you pretty much have to have a social media presence. This is especially true in the beer world, where some breweries have basically built themselves on their personality. And yet, at the end of the day, we’re also selling you something.
I believe this is the first Session to be hosted by a brewery rather than beer blogger. [It’s not, but he’s correct that there haven’t been many. Ed.] How do you feel about that? Do you want your feeds clear of businesses, or do you like when a brewery engages with people? Can you think of anyone who does it particularly well, or poorly? As the person who does our social media, which I think is very good (although not quite good enough), I struggle with this problem. I’m on both sides, and rather than come to any sort of conclusion of my own I thought I would make all of you write about it.
So what do you think? Are breweries in the friend zone? Should they be? Should they stay at arm’s length from their customers? Or somewhere in between? To participate in the January Session, leave the link to your post in a comment to the original announcement or tag them on Twitter at @communitybeer with your post on or before Friday, January 1. And please note that the first Friday of the month of January is the very first day of the new year. Given the revelry of the night before, it may be easy to overlook so you may want to tackle it before popping the cork on 2015.
While I don’t think too much about what I post on Twitter, lots of companies do think about their Twitter frequency, content, timing, etc. How much is the right amount? How much is too much? Organizations should, and usually do, give this careful consideration. Last year, Track Social conducted a study to determine the sweet spot entitled Optimizing Twitter Engagement – Part 2: How Frequently to Tweet. They determined that 2-5 tweets per day is best to get a response from your followers. Less than that and they forget about you, more than that and they start to tune out. Looking at my own Twitterstream, I tend to tweet 4-6 times a day, usually no more than 10; though sometimes I tweet more when I’m traveling.
Lately, I’ve been noticing that I see an awful lot of tweets from the prohibitionists at Alcohol Justice, usually with a great deal of repetition. I started noticing that I keep seeing the same twitpic day after day, the same plea for money day after day and the same propaganda day after day. For example, recently I was annoyed by one of their tweets, and considered doing a post about it, but then changed my mind. But I noticed I saw it again, and then again, and then again today. It turns out they first tweeted the one below every single day since December 17, which was the first time, until today. That’s fourteen times in two weeks. Exactly the same every time, as below. They could change the wording, change it up, make it at least appear fresh, but nope, they just retweet it over and over again, as is.
What originally annoyed me is that clicking on the link takes you to a story, Watchdog Group Slams Alcohol “Social Responsibility” Campaigns. The “watchdog” doing the slamming is none other than Alcohol Justice. So in effect, every day they’re saying hey, look at this information about what a watchdog group is saying as if it’s from an objective, unbiased source. But what they’re really saying is: “hey check out this study by us that we got someone else to post without questioning anything.” It feels dishonest at best. There’s nothing about it that’s not slimy and self-referential, more of the circle jerk of prohibitionist propaganda. They could have tweeted that there’s a story about their own study or something to the effect that here’s an article by one of our own, or at least own the information. But that would be honest, something the watchdog holding big alcohol accountable has a hard time doing themselves.
But as this sank in, I also noticed I’ve been seeing lots of repetition. Beating a dead horse seems to be part of the S.O.P., a policy decision. As far as the amount of tweets, looking at the last ten days, Alcohol Justice tweeted 369 times, not including RT’s. That’s an average of almost 37 tweets per day. As of 2:30 p.m. PST, they’ve tweeted 70 times today! That would push the average to nearly forty tweets per day.
Beyond the insane number, it’s the repetition that’s so amazing. There appears to be a calculated policy of tweeting the exact same tweets every day for weeks on end. Just seeing the same graphics tweeted every day makes that point. Take a cursory glance down their twitterstream and you’ll see the same photo and language over and over and over again. The graphic for this tweet is a bottle of Absolut in a rainbow pattern and the text “Absolut Pride,” making me wonder if perhaps they’re also subtly trying to appeal to homophobics, too. Otherwise, what was the point of choosing that particular ad to use in a post about social responsibility? Personally, I like this colorful neon beer bottle sign better. But then, I generally prefer beer.
And then there’s donations, pleas for which are seemingly never-ending. During the month of December, so far, they’ve asked followers for money 57 times, or an average of almost twice a day.
The amount of redundancy in the average day’s Twitter feed by Alcohol Justice reminds me of an old Monty Python bit with a government agency called the “Department of Redundancy Department.” Can their nearly 16,000 followers really welcome that much repetition in the information they’re sending out on a daily basis? Or can it be possible they think so little of those followers that they believe that they need to keep telling them the same things over and again in the hopes that it sinks in eventually?
Today’s infographic is an interactive beer map of “the consumer followers of over 2500 beer and microbrewery Twitter accounts.” It was created by PeekAnalytics, who “is an enterprise-class social audience measurement platform that provides rich demographic insights to marketers allowing them to better identify and qualify social consumers. What Nielsen® does for television and radio audiences – PeekAnalytics does for social.”
The default map is the New York City area.
But you can “discover the most popular beer in over 15000 cities across the US, Canada, the UK, and Ireland” using their interactive map. Here, for example is California.
And here’s the greater Bay Area.
But check out your own city using PeekAnalytics Beer Map.
AdAge posted an interesting video today, it’s an interview with Anheuser-Busch InBev Vice President Digital Marketing for North America, Lucas Herscovici, where he discusses how ABI “measures its results in social media. It was taped prior to his presentation at the Ad Age Digital Conference, which took place yesterday in San Francisco.