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Archive | July, 2009

The end of beer writing as we know it?

In commenting on the demise of the British-based magazine Beers of the World writer Adrian Tierney-Jones has written such a lovely headline that I have to find an excuse to repeat it: “Beers Of The World finito: the end of beerwriting as we know it?”

If you live in the U.S. you likely never read this magazine, which could be found occasionally at the random Barnes & Noble. I think I last saw it in Prague last November because Evan Rail brought a few copies along when we met for dinner.

Just two things before I get back to “long form” writing (“Brewing With Wheat” and today I’m writing about the epic battles between bakers and brewers for control of wheat production — OK, it’s not really that sexy):

– Adrian concludes that magazines devoted to beer have no future in the U.K. and that “makes me think that maybe this is the end of beer-writing as we have known it since the 1970s. We are all beer bloggers now.”

– Therefore it seems like a good time to point to a post from Alice Feiring, a wonderful writer who happens to specialize in wine.

He wrote, “As I’ve been saying for a while now: blogs didn’t kill journalism. blogs killed writing. The art of writing is now essentially fully devalued. It’s a hobby.”

Think of it before you jump all over us. The popularity of the blog has reduced writing to a 500-word postage stamp norm, and usually given away for free. For free. Free, the industry standard. While a digest of words can be a fun exercise in craft, the indulgence the 2000- to 5000 word article was nirvana.

and (edited for length) . . .

Oh, to once again be paid to fret and angst over the specific word and nuance. To work with an editor, to banter back and forth and develop and like a dancer stretch for that point on the stage with utter conviction.

I long for the days when there was craft, there was grammar and there was poetry . . .

And so bloggers who have jobs that pay the bills other than writing, please take no offense. No offense is meant. But this is a lament, from those of us who have bet our lives on the written word, for those of us who have no fall back plan (actually, journalism is my fall back for fiction) whether the subject is art, music, politics, literature or wine, our lives are changing. No one goes into writing to make pots of dough.

At a time when American beer commands more respect than it has in its history there are, thankfully, a growing number of publications focused on beer. And we’ve got cleverly written blogs rich with beer citizen journalism.

Sure the grammar could get better (and we won’t even start on the poetry . . .) But I’d like to think we’re at the beginning of beer writing as we will know it, and I’m not even sure what form that might take.


‘We changed the way the world looks at beer’

The words of Fred Eckhardt.

“And it isn’t ever going to be the same . . . I’m glad of that.”

Jay Shevek has posted a new trailer for “Beer Pioneers” at Facebook.

It’s wonderful. Make sure to watch to the end.

To read more about the upcoming documentary:

The video (same as above) on Facebook.
– The Beer Pioneers fan page on Facebook.
– The Beer Pioneers website (outside of Facebook).


Highly rated beers and boring beers

With a rather provocatively headline, “Rate Beer vs. Beer Advocate: The ratings war!,” Top Fermented takes a lengthy look at how the top-rated beers at Rate Beer and Beer Advocate compare.

Is there anything to conclude other than “it’s an interesting look at the tastes of the user base at both sites?” You decide.

If you have the new All About Beer magazine (“Brewing in Wine Country” is the top story”) in hand the story about the super raters at Rate Beer and Beer Advocate makes interesting supplementary reading.

And for perspective check out Ron Pattinson’s post about boring beer (it’s short).

Now I’m back to writing about wheat beer, fortunately not boring to me.


When rare ceases to be rare

The assistant managing editor in charge of being cranky at the last newspaper where I worked used to have a note posted on a bulletin board in his office: “All boldface is no boldface.”

For instance, consider just one entry today at Four more rare beers, including one (Brooklyn Sorachi Ace) brewed with now-rare hops. Good breweries all; undoubtedly good beers. And even if we never taste these beers good things may result — when I was at Stone Brewing a few months ago brewmaster Mitch Steele and I talked about how much he learns during one of these collaborative projects.

But I can’t help but remember that quote attributed to Goethe (though I suspect it was made up). At some point being rare ceases to be rare.

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