Posts tagged ‘beer blogging’

January 3, 2013

So long, 2012

Well here we are, at the start of a new year, and for me that also (roughly) marks the start of my second year of this blog. A perfect opportunity perhaps, to take a look back on the past year, and forward to the next.

I actually started this blog on Dec 23rd 2011 with a little pre-Christmas warm up, but blogging proper began in January first with a look at local pubs, and then I asked the question that led to my most popular post (based on number of views, anyway) of the whole year – where is the Birmingham Tap? So, almost a year later, do we have the answer? Well, things have certainly started to change. December saw the long-awaited opening of the new Brewdog bar in Birmingham, which was quite ironic timing for me – two weeks before it opened a change of job caused me to be London-based almost every day and travelling a route that avoids Birmingham, rather then being in London for just part of the week and travelling through New St to get home even on those days. Of course, one of the inspirations for that post was what is perhaps my truest “local” – the Euston Tap, so there’s still a silver lining…

But is Brewdog Birmingham the answer? Well, no, and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful by that. Brewdog bars are great, and when I have the chance I’ll be a regular visitor, but they still lack for me the full breadth that places like Euston and Sheffield Taps or the Craft chain provide. So Brewdog is a start, but only that. Fortunately there is more to come! Further new bars are expected to open in the area later this year that should be the perfect compliment to the Brewdog offering and finally bring the breadth of choice that Birmingham hopefully deserves. It has even been hinted at that the operators of the Euston and Sheffield (and other) Taps have been looking for premises. Whether or not there is a “Birmingham Tap”, there should soon be a great range of beer on offer that finally puts Birmingham on a par with other cities.

As I’ve gone through this first year of writing, I’ve perhaps inevitably been trying my hand, and searching our both a style and a purpose in what I write about. Subject matter has included observations on drinking and the bar scene in Birmingham especially, my own brewing endeavours, beer festivals, and various other subjects as they came up. Naturally I hoped that I could look back at the popularity of various posts and determine what worked best for me in order to focus in the future. Well, that didn’t work. My second most popular post was of a completely different subject to the Birmingham Tap – the Saison brewday that recently took place – while in third place was a review of the inaugural Twissup in Birmingham. Three completely different posts on completely different subjects. I guess I’ll have to find other ways of deciding what to focus on in my blogging for the coming year, or just keep up the random approach I’ve had so far…

Going back to that Twissup post, this was a big event in the past year. It brought together a number of bloggers and tweeters in the region, and as a result I’ve got a number of new friends, more than just acquaintances. Saison a’Trois wouldn’t have happened without that initial meeting, and hopefully 2013 will see further developments that can be traced back to that first meeting. Since then, over the Christmas break, the second Birmingham Twissup attracted an even bigger crowd and I’m sure the next one won’t be far away. Twissup wasn’t the only event I attended in the year, and the European Beer Bloggers Convention was another great opportunity to meet more fellow bloggers, drink some great beers, and learn a bit more about this blogging lark.

The autumn saw one of the real highlights of the year drinking-wise with IndyManBeerCon somewhat redefining the beer festival. Is it too soon to be eagerly anticipating this year’s event which will no doubt be bigger and better? Something to aspire to in the Midlands perhaps? We’ll have to see what can be done…

On the home front, brewing progress has finally picked up following a slightly difficult time as new and larger equipment was put together (a task that is far from complete although now advanced enough to be reaping benefits). An exciting possibility of a commercial opportunity arose part way through the year, although all is quiet on that at the moment. It is still potentially on the cards though, and in the meantime I’m focusing on getting the beers I make right, and keeping an eye out for the right opportunities if they should come up.

So that’s the highlights for me. But what of the year to come? Well I have a few plans and ideas. Firstly on the blogging side of things I know I have to get writing more regularly. It has been tricky this year – work often eats up all the available time and the new job gives no respite from that. Although I’ve averaged about two posts every three weeks there have been some big gaps, and even if I don’t write a greater number of posts I’d like to keep more of a steady momentum. I’ve got to keep up with reading other people’s blogs too – there’s been so much good stuff lately and I know I’m missing more than I’m getting to see.

This year the brewing is going to step up a gear too. I think I’m starting to hit my stride now – I just need to get all those irritating little jobs around the place done to make each brewday go that much easier, and now I’ve made the dual steps to fully temperature-controlled fermentation and liquid yeasts I’ll be expanded the beer repertoire accordingly. I’d like to take the opportunity, if opportunities can be found, to get some hands on experience of a commercial brewday (all offers gratefully considered!), but the real challenge I’ve set myself is to get a recipe made commercially, somehow (again all offers considered!) – both of those should give some fantastic experience as well as valuable blogging material!

It’ll be tough to deliver on the challenges I’ve set myself, but it should be fun trying. Hopefully at least some of you will drop by to keep an eye on progress, and thanks for reading during this past year. Here’s to a fabulous 2013!

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December 7, 2012

Session #70: Don’t Believe the Hype

Session_Logo

This month’s Session, hosted by Mr David J, touches on a theme of disappointment – when a much-anticipated beer fails to live up to its hype.  In this modern age of all-pervasive social media it is easier than ever to whip up a frenzy of excitement over just about anything you want, and beer is no exception.  But should we listen?

Well, actually I think yes we should.  But, and this is the important bit for me, we should listen carefully.  There is, as they say, no smoke without fire.  But smoke can cloud your vision.  So, if there is a lot of hype about a beer, there is probably a good reason.  OK, it may be all marketing, but that should be pretty obvious if you pay attention to the actual sources.  On the other hand, lots of different people saying how fantastic a beer is should be a pretty good indication that there is some substance behind that.  Apply a bit of perspective though.  Despite all the hype, the odds are that this isn’t (or at least, isn’t to you) actually the best beer in the world.  If you set your expectations too high you’re bound to be disappointed.  Other people have different experiences against which they compare something, so it might be the best beer they’ve had, or their tastes might be different.

I guess what I’m saying is, by all means let others guide you to what might be good, but don’t take it to seriously and judge what you try on its own merits.

Don’t believe the hype, but don’t ignore it!

May 24, 2012

EBBC12 – the aftermath (part 4) – something to open at home

Whether you were there or not, you will no doubt be aware that the European Beer Bloggers Conference was a great opportunity not only to taste a wide range of beers (plus a couple of meals and some delicious cheese) but also to bring things away to enjoy later.  This is of course a great way of extending the pleasure of the event out for days, weeks or even months!  So, I thought, maybe I should open something and see what I think.

So I did.  It was an offering from one of the larger corporate sponsors, but was something I’d been looking forward to from the moment I found out it was going to be available at the event.  Once opened I was presented with a pale straw colour, seemingly in very good condition.  I was disappointed by a lack of hop aroma, but to be fair I expected none given its large brewery origins.  Certainly this was designed to appeal to the eye, and also to the pocket representing excellent value.  After a perfectly reasonable visual inspection I moved onto the flavour which is where this really let itself down.  It tasted papery and thin, clearly having too much content with oxygen in the packaging, and actually despite appearances was completely flat.

So, would I have another.  Yes, in fact if I was offered another I’d snap it up.  Despite the flavour problems I was completely won over and was very grateful for the opportunity to have this.  It is a fine cheque – now all I have to do is take it to the bank and pay it into my account…

Attending EBBC12 was a great opportunity for me, and the event was made more accessible through the generosity of the many sponsors, including the refund of registration fees that I and many other bloggers received through the Molson Coors scholarships for Citizen Beer Bloggers.  So a big personal thanks from me to all involved in supporting this event – sadly too many to list without risking inadvertently omitting someone – and all those who attended and made it such a fabulous few days.  See you all next year!

May 22, 2012

EBBC12 – the aftermath (part 2) – Post Futures

Over the course of the weekend just gone, someone made a comment about selling “beer futures” – pay now for a beer that hasn’t even been brewed, in the hope of profit later.  I can’t quite recollect who it was so apologies for not crediting it properly.  The comment came back to me just now as I was mulling over the events of EBBC12, when I thought about the Saturday morning sessions and in particular the one on how to make best use of Social Media. 

The slightly aggressive commercial approach to using social media wasn’t to everyone’s taste, and grated slightly against the ethos of blogging being a very personal thing, with everyone making it to be what they wanted it to be.  On the other hand, the reality is that if youdowant to develop your following as a blogger in a more disciplined way, you have to change your mindset to one of marketing yourself rather than just being yourself. 

That was when I was struck by the thought that in many ways blogging can be like developing a “post futures” market.  Followers are gained on the basis of past performance and reputation, maybe the odd tip-off in another blog.  What they get in return is the value of your future posts.  Fail to deliver and the market will turn away from you, but get it right and the demand only grows.

It still all depends on what your motivation actually is though – I’ve met lots of people this weekend who write simply because they are passionate about their subject, and while we all get a kick out of knowing that people read, and enjoy, what we write it isn’t necessarily important to them just how many people read it.  Others are far more interested in developing their writing and their popularity as a writer.  Whichever category you might be in, it seems to me that “post futures” are looking rosy at the moment.  I just wish I had enough time to read as many of the great blogs that are out there as I would really like, especially after discovering a whole host of great new writers this weekend!

May 22, 2012

EBBC12 – the aftermath (part 1)

If you don’t know by now that the European Beer Bloggers Conference was held in Leeds last weekend then you’ve probably either been asleep for a month, or have been comatose through enjoying your beer a bit more than is perhaps advisable! Put 100 or so bloggers into a room for a couple of days, let the beer flow freely and sit back as the words flow even more freely. There are countless blog posts that were generated over the course of the weekend, and still now (like this one) as part of the aftermath. A range of views, opinions, and writing styles all telling their own stories of the event.  Personally, I’m still trying to catch up with all that’s been written, collate my own thoughts, and get my own posts out there into the mix.

One of the first two panel sessions, on Friday afternoon, saw Adrian Tierney-Jones and Simon Jenkins debating some of the finer points of beer blogging. Length of posts was a big theme, and while there is no conclusive answer to what is right or wrong, I can appreciate the arguments in support of keeping posts short. It will be something I consider as I write up my thoughts on EBBC12, aiming for a few short summaries rather than one long one – hopefully they’ll be easier to read as a result, but also I’m hoping to find lots of short posts are easier to write than a few long ones.

That could be taken as my cue to wrap this one up, but I’ll go on just a little longer if I may.

For me, this session demonstrated right from the outset what diversity there is in beer blogging. Plenty of contrasting views at every turn, and good healthy debate. Different motivations for writing a blog, and so different approaches that need to be taken. The same goes for views on specific beers, and there’ll be more later on how that came out through the various tastings. Rarely was there a unanimous view around the room on anything, and if there had been then I think the discussions would have suffered as a result. However I think if there was to be a consensus on anything, it would be that EBBC12 was a great event, Leeds was a great city to hold it in, and EBBC13 should be well worth looking forward to!