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Are Bloggers Destroying Beer Writing?

I had a bit of a caffeine-fueled run in with Marty Nachel yesterday, and it led me to a new realization about the state of beer writing in the age of the Internet.

It started with a comment he left on my “Five Beer Stereotypes” post that struck me as odd:

We typically don’t get this particular brand of negativity around here, so it sent up a red flag.

As with all comments we get, I answered this one, but I hit up Google before I typed my response to see if I could find anyone covering the subject of beer stereotypes the way I did in the post.  Maybe he was right – maybe it was a worn out topic that was fresh only to me.  A cursory search revealed nothing, so I decided to defend myself, but in a friendly manner (mostly). 

I couldn’t help that last sentence, reviewing his comment the way he had reviewed my post, but I wanted to see what would happen if I pushed back a bit.  I sometimes have a nose for this stuff.

And there it was: “I’ve been in the biz since 1987; pardon me for being blase about old news.” So I’m some kind of derivative johnny-come-lately, standing on the shoulders of men like Marty without even knowing it?  Fair enough (he’s probably more right than not about this, I have no idea), but that didn’t stop me for pointing out that Marty was coming off as a little out of touch. I felt bad about being snotty in hindsight, as you can see by my soft-peddling follow up:

Our exchange continued from there on a downhill trajectory.

This little kerfuffle led me to Google around a bit to learn more about Marty, trying to figure out where he was coming from (and totally dismissing the idea that he might simply think I’m a thin-skinned hack).

It turns out Marty Nachel has been introducing folks to the wonders of craft beer for over 25 years, first as a writer of books and articles for beer magazines, and now as an instructor of beer appreciation classes and sensory training sessions.  He literally wrote the book on Homebrewing for Dummies, (perfect for yours truly), and you can even send him your homebrew and he’ll evaluate it for you using his BJCP-annointed palate. He’s been a judge at the GABF for 20+ years and sat at Jim Koch’s elbow as a judge at this year’s Sam Adams LongShot homebrewers competition.  If beer writing were the Mafia, Marty is a made man.  He’s also by all accounts (and after yesterday, I sought out accounts) a really good guy.

While searching, I found some comments Marty had left on other blogs, including this excerpt from a one left on Andy Crouch’s beerscribe.com, in response to a post about how “citizen beer bloggers” are mostly a bunch of vapid fanboys who add little critical perspective to the world of beer.  Marty’s comment really made me think about the impact bloggers are having on the world of beer writing:

In this day and age, where anyone with a computer and internet access can be “beer writer”, how does one get him/herself heard above the din of the crowd? Print publications –those that still exist– seem to prefer contributors that are hungry enough to undercut seasoned writers.

If incentives such as awards and monetary remuneration aren’t there, then what? I’d love to say that I write for the pure joy of it, but…

I had never really thought about how the glut of beer writing by a legion of attention-hungry bloggers might be killing the market for seasoned writers like Marty.  I’ve seen it happen in sports writing and entertainment coverage, so it makes sense that the world of beer writing would also feel the stinging tides of the Internet age.

But the question is this: Is beer writing better or worse for having so many “beer writer” folks pecking away at keyboards, yearning to be heard?

On the one hand, you have guys like Marty, who have a deep resource of craft beer knowledge and experience to share, but find it difficult to make a living doing so. Their wheelhouse has been crowdsourced out to a bunch of un- or under-qualified craft beer cheerleaders who work for free (or close to it).  Some long-time beer writers like Lew Bryson, Jack Curtain and Jay Brooks seem to have made the transition to this new age, but how many knowledgeable voices will be lost to a financial model that squeezes them out of the business?  It’s a real issue that Marty brings up.

On the other hand, you have beer bloggers, a noisy bunch for sure, but not without a passion for craft beer and a thirst for sharing what they know. These boys and girls have helped to fuel the growth of the craft beer industry – just look at these charts side by side, one documenting Internet usage and the other the rise in craft beer sales.  See a correlation?:

So beer bloggers are clearly good for sales, but are we good for writing?

Overall, I’m going to say “yes” here, because we’ve expanded the conversation.  Some of it might be a little inane (like my “Five Beer Stereotypes I Wish Would Disappear” that started this mess), but posts like these give beer geeks like us the opportunity to share our perspectives, experiences and opinions in ways that are meaningful, at least to us.

Are we taking food off of a writer like Marty’s table?  Yes, unfortunately. But I think we’re also growing the pot.  As bloggers and tweeters and facebookers (?) push the popularity of craft beer to new heights, there should be more opportunities for everyone, even if they’re different ones than before. Will the increased attention given to homebrewing help grow public interest in making beer at home?  Probably (I certainly hope so).  Will some of those people buy Marty’s book? I’m sure some will. Will those book sales replace the income Marty would see if bloggers like us left the beer writing to the professionals? I doubt it, but what can we do?

The Internet has given people the opportunity to read and write what they like, without gatekeepers or the need for aggregators beyond a search engine or a blogroll or a social network.  The inmates are now running the asylum and there’s no going back. Over time, things will sort out, some voices will rise and others will fall – we’re all subject to the whims of this new reality.  It’s largely beyond our control, except that we can approach craft beer with reverence and love and each try to shepherd it the best we can.

I hope the future provides well for bonafide beer writers like Marty Nachel – they are a vital part of the craft beer conversation, the keepers of the flame.  But I’m also happy that there are so many men and women excited enough about craft beer to fire up their computers on a regular basis and fan that flame.  The world of craft beer needs both to continue to thrive, and hopefully every boat will find enough water to stay afloat.

Now, did Marty’s original comment had anything to do with all of this? I doubt it – he probably did indeed write about how Spuds McKenzie and Alex from Strohs were taking attention away from what’s important about beer back in 1988.  But regardless, his comment led me to expand my perspective on the topic, and for that I thank him.

All that said, I’m sure this isn’t anything that thousands of craft beer drinkers weren’t on to decades before I wrote about it.  🙂

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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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80 Comments on “Are Bloggers Destroying Beer Writing?”

  1. johnking82
    August 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Marty should write for this blog, maybe things would make more sense.

    • August 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

      Amen to that.

      Beer and Whiskey Brothers and Marty. I think I can make that logo work…

  2. johnking82
    August 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Would that make Don portray Biff and you George McFly?

    • August 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

      Don is clearly Einstein and I’m Goldie Wilson (obviously).

  3. August 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    The old guard is always annoyed/pissed off by/scared of/nervous about/unsure of the newfangled bloggers with no experience coming in and ruining their lively hood. It’s the same story no matter the discipline. Like you said with sports and entertainment, and it’s just like newspaper comic strip makers being pissed at webcomic creators.

    Bottom line: adapt or die. That’s really all there is to it. Complaining about bloggers isn’t going to do the old guard any good. If their family’s table has less food it’s not your fault (or any other blogger’s) its theirs because they haven’t been able to find a way to adapt to new technologies and innovations.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

      Still, it sucks to see your niche evaporate. I can understand that.

  4. August 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Is there any real point to Blogging / Tweeting / Facebooking / Instagramming about beer, whisky, or anything else? Who knows! All I know is that this has (a) legitimized my drinking (Limpd’s immortal words), (b) taken me out of my comfort zone and made me try new and interesting things, and (c) enabled me to interact with a lot of very kind and enthusiastic people with similar interests (Yes. Even you Jim! 😉 ). Blogging is what I do for fun and I don’t regret a minute of it.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

      I feel the same way – it’s made the whole journey much more fun.

  5. August 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    I started blogging about beer because of all the boring, shitty writing and shit photography most beer bloggers are fond of posting.

    • August 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      So, yes, bloggers are aggressively destroying the written word.

      • August 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

        Twas ever thus.

      • August 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

        I’m sure that’s how the scribes felt when some asshat figured out how to mass produce pencils…

        • August 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

          If bloggers would take a little pride in their, you know, writing, things might be different. Editing helps, though many don’t take what they’re doing seriously enough to do that. It’s almost a mentality of “it’s the internet, so it doesn’t really matter.” Strunk and White would shit themselves in the internet age. Most bloggers just publish word vomit on a regular basis.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

      You’re welcome. 🙂

      • August 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

        Most.

        • August 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

          Hopefully we’re not lumped in there. 🙂

  6. August 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Other than you may be seeing a cause and effect relationship between blogging and beer sales that is not necessarily so, I agree with you. Well said, young whippersnapper.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      I’d be curious to see some hard data on the correlation between the growth of each, but I ain’t gonna do it! Joys of being a blogger!!

  7. August 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Jim, Don… I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog posts… You write and let the internet decide if you are worth reading/following… you guys have more interaction than most blogs I’ve read (and not just in the beer industry)… so I’d say you have improved the industry…

    Keep up the good work!…

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      I think we would’ve stopped long ago if it weren’t for the community that sprang up here.

      So it’s all YOUR fault!! 🙂

  8. August 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    This was an interesting read. All I know is, I hope you guys continue writing and blogging because it’s entertaining to me.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Thanks, Johnny. We’ve slowed down, but can’t stop.

  9. beerbecue
    August 24, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    I’m in it to get chicks.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

      Hate to trll you this, but all the chicks read welding and off-roading blogs. 😦

  10. beerbecue
    August 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Seriously though, beer is egalitarian. We’re not a bunch of wine lovers waiting for
    proclamations from the annointed few perched atop the mountain of wisdom.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      Dang it. I knew I was doing something wrong. [Climbs down from atop a mountain….Well, at least I can drink a beer while I do]

      • August 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

        Because good beer comes in
        CANS – suck it, vino!!

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

      I’m sure the wine bloggers are in the process of knocking them off their perches if they haven’t already.

      • beerbecue
        August 24, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

        I really just wanted to use the word egalitarian and get a shot in at wine drinkers.

  11. August 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    Guys, I suspect that many of your regulars, like myself, enjoy drinking beer more than reading about it. Thus you may be the only (or one of a few) place(s) they go to learn about what’s new in the world of beer. For a dilettante like myself, your posts present the subject at just about the right level of detail. W/ the occasional exception of GPO, I for one don’t read other beer blogs and (lucky you), this is the only one on which I comment. And I certainly don’t go out and buy specialty magazines about beer and brewing. So, if the subject matter is stale to Marty and the other pros, that’s okay, you still got us.

    One last thought, the success of your Blog is at least as much about you, who you are, how you interact with each other as it is about alcoholic comestibles. So keep the faith bros, keep the faith.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

      Thanks Massugu, both for your kind words and for commenting here. Sounds corny, but it means a lot that what we do resonates enough for you to waste your time with us! 🙂

      • August 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

        Going back to a previous conversation, beer is a social lubricant. Its always more enjoyable when shared. The atmosphere of this Blog, at least to my mind, has always been reminiscent of a friendly neighborhood pub where one goes to meet friends, share a beer and engage in conversation. I have not a scintilla of doubt that were I to actually meet either of you in a bar, we would immediately sit down as compadres to share a brew and a sea story or two. That is the hallmark of your Blog, a bunch of friends getting together over a beer. Yes we may have our differences but we all share a love of good beer. I’ll never get that experience from a magazine article–sorry Marty.

        • Don
          August 24, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

          You’d be surprised Wayne. Jim’s really a jerk in real life, and I’m socially awkward. 😉

        • August 25, 2012 at 9:05 am #

          Hey Don, we all have warts–you’ve seen a few of mine right here on the Blog. I still think of you both as friends and would love to share a pint or two with either or both of you.

        • August 25, 2012 at 11:24 am #

          +1

  12. Diss Content
    August 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    I guess I’ll have to take a break from the tribal ass rape of the First Amendment long enough to ponder the criticism of a citizen, in a free society, voicing his opinion on…… craft beer. Really? There’s too much dialog on craft beer and it’s of low quality?

    Well thanks so much Mr. ‘I’ve been in the biz since ’87 and therefore have a superior opinion on all things under the awesome umbrella subject of micro brews’ guy. Gee whiz, I guess since I’ve been around the stuff since ’79 that makes me higher on the pecking order, thus making Nachel a willing recipient of some cyber scent marking, while submitting to some form of dry humping typically practiced by similar pack animals, with equal intellect.

    Much like the craft beers in my life, I appreciate and celebrate….. VARIETY. Yep and that includes some other things like TV programs, automobiles and something foreign to the likes of a self proclaimed beer expert….. beautiful women. Yet I don’t feel any need to subjugate such an accomplished beer expert, with such crippling insecurities, about the intellectual stimulation I enjoy reading the prose of Jim and Don.

    There’s boundless room in cyberspace for the antics, wisdom and humor of Jim and Don, and I’m glad I blundered upon this electronic dais of craft beer. The MORE the merrier. The ‘young’ crowd (I say this as an old dude) ARE among the greatest contributors to this combination of science, craft and art; who have collectively followed one grand slam with another. Keep up the disjointed collaboration with good humor and a common goal of making a superior product. Let the fiefdoms of the industry continue to decay and ultimately crumble under their own weight of hubris and self importance. Posers.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      It’s certainly natural selection at work.

    • August 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      And, bring back the podcast–please. I, for one, miss hearing you guys talk about beer.

      • August 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

        We keep talking about talking about beer again, but so far, it’s only talk (about talking, in the future).

      • August 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

        We keep talking about talking again, but so far, it’s just talk.

      • John
        August 24, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

        PODCAST! PODCAST!

  13. August 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Crusty protectionism doesn’t get us anywhere. Beer is wonderful in part because of its varied nature. No two beers are ever the same. No two beer bloggers are the same. This benefits everyone. If nothing else, somebody may find conflicting information and research the topic further. Heaven forbid. Internet writing also promotes conversation in a way that classic print can’t. Cheers to being a new age beer writer.

    • August 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      I feel the same. What we do here and what print writers do (or did when magazines we booming) are two very different things. I think both have lots of merit and keep things moving forward.

  14. August 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I think a major difference between a beer blogger and a beer writer is original reporting. Not just commenting on articles or controversies or writing reviews of beers or recaps of festival, but actually getting out there, interviewing people, digging up data, and writing a story about it. There’s also the difference of advocacy vs. objectivity (which many beer writers often cross).

    That being said, I think there’s a place for beer bloggers to start discussions, cover their local beer scene, and introduce people to new beers or ideas. And plenty of beer blogs are starting to include original reporting, interviews, and news-like stories. (So I guess they’re beer writers now? This is getting confusing.)

    Beer writers have nothing to worry about as long as they’re not lazy–as long as they continue to get out there, find stories or angles that aren’t being told, and write half-decently about it.

    • August 24, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

      Yeah, I’ve learned about sourcing, etc., from the other writing I do. It’s alot harder to actually do reporting than to just pop off about stuff (unfortunately!).

  15. August 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    What I got out of Marty’s initial comment was: Remember, even if this is the first time (or maybe not) a topic has been discussed in a blog, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been discussed before at length.

    But it’s a discussion worth revisiting, in my opinion.

    I do find it odd that he called you out on it directly, rather than make a general comment to all who were posting.

    Bloggers on any subject are just the new reality of society, and impact traditional medias much the same as MS Word and Paint has my own profession. I was pretty irate 20 years ago when amateurs tried designing their own stationary and brochures, but it all settles out eventually. Some of those amateurs went on to be good designers, while the untalented ones fell by the wayside.

    What Jim and Don (and everyone else who creates discussion worthy material) are doing actually goes beyond what any traditional media source could, creating a forum that was inconceivable decades ago (at least in it’s timeliness).

    • August 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      I can’t imagine that everything we’ve written here hasn’t been covered elsewhere. It’s certainly fresh and original to us, which is what counts in my book.

      I guess if I had said, chek out this new idea that’s only ever been discussed here, it’d be grounds to elicit such a response, but this was more like asking someone who is already upset a simple question and having them bite your head off. Weird, but whatever. As he said somewhere in the thread, it’s a public blog, so buck up, little blooger!

      • August 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

        I agree, although what’s a blooger? 😉

        • August 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

          It’s when we pull something out of nose instead of our ass…

  16. Brendan
    August 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    My niche is green issues related to drinks overall, but it winds up being 70% beer and 30% liquor because the wine geex are too good for me.

    Eh, whatever, I’m just in it for the bux 🙂

    • August 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

      I don’t write about wine because I really don’t like it. Weird that I can be so into beer and NEVER think about wine.

  17. August 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    He does have a point. There are more interesting angles out there than just listing stereotypes that we’ve all talked about. But you have a point to in that not every article has to be targeted to the initiated, there can be some more accessible content. Just as there are more challenging and more accessible beers. To be positive I think you could just look at it as a challenge to be more creative: to elevate your writing and story ideas. And it should also be a nice reminder that just because you’re behind a computer screen doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to be an asshole to those you disagree with, because you might regret it (that goes for both sides).

    • August 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

      I don’t know that what I wrote was the lowest hanging fruit in the jungle, W.B., but I appreciate what you’re saying. I won’t write something unless I’m inspired to do so, and usually it’s an idea that interest me that I haven’t seen done before that gets me going.

      Except in the case of this post, which ironically has very clearly been covered by Andy Crouch over at beerscribe.com.

  18. August 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Regarding the original comment: “You’re not wrong, but you’re not on to anything that thousands of craft beer drinkers weren’t on to decades before you wrote about it.”

    It may be true that “thousands of craft beer drinkers” knew this before, but as long as those stereotypes remain a part of our popular culture it is incumbent on those same “thousands of craft beer drinkers” to point out that those stereotypes are bullshit.

    Regarding the glut of beer bloggers: some are good, some are bad. There have always been “hacks” (as I understand it, though I can’t find a source now, the term originally referred to reporters who transcribed wire reports rather than going out and finding original stories aka “real journalism”) I’ll read the ones that are interesting/informative to me regardless of the media. Fact of the matter is, all the “professional writing” I’ve found in published articles is drab, boring and just seems to distract form the point of the article rather than re-enforce it.

    I’d also note that bloggers seem to reveal their regional perspective which is interesting to me; much as we love to talk about the “American Craft Beer Industry” it’s not as homogeneous as all that.

    • August 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

      I agree that the regional spin of blogs is cool, and it’s neat how some folks embrace it and make it the focus of their work.

      And I think that there are drab writers in every subject you can think of, but I have no idea who they are because I run away from their work with checking the byline!

  19. Diss Content
    August 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    OK, so what’s in the opus magnum tome, inexplicably named ‘Homebrewing for DUMMIES’, that hasn’t been written about before and much, much better? How to brew beer at home? Ales? Lagers? I think the list of what hasn’t been written about would be hard pressed to consume the paper reserved for a fortune cookie.

    Between the Phoenicians and the Central Lowland Scots, there’s around five thousand years worth of grain bills and recipes which have been chiseled into pyramids and scribed onto papyrus. What ‘new’ information is offered in the above mentioned document? I would surmise…..none. Not one single original thought, just a collection of before practiced and written about brewing techniques. Hack.

    Perhaps he should focus his efforts on a different type of fermentation for his next book. I might suggest wine as a good subject with a title of ‘Sour Grapes for AUTHORS’. I’m feeling some magic here.

  20. August 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    I am writing a book called Beer Drinking for Geniuses. I don’t consider myself a beer writer. I consider myself a beer drinker that writes. Like most, my palate is not world class. But if I like a beer I will tell you about. If I don’t like it, I’ll tell you. I will also tell you about my scrotum. I’m the 3rd best writer on the Tri-State Internet. And the worst photographer.

    The dude from comments above is the Ansel Adams of beer photos. Seriously. Everyone else might as well just draw pictures of pint glasses on bar napkins.

    • August 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      I look forward to your future scrotum missive – those can get hairy!

      Zing!! 🙂

      • August 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

        I spoke of scrote in a past post. Oddly enough it was about hair loss. But the testy talk will probably continue into the future. Or maybe you were looking for a post about future scrotums? Like in the year 3000. I’ll ponder on that.

        • August 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

          Yes, genetically engineered to double as a yo-yo type weapon.

        • August 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

          Ewwwww! Weaponized genitalia? Has that been discussed before? We might be onto something fresh here. Probably not though. If only we were bloggers in the 70’s…

        • August 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

          How low can your bolo go?

        • August 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

          🙂

  21. Stan Hieronymus
    August 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    For the record, Marty also wrote “Beer for Dummies.” That’s a book for the more general population. As you know, the Dummies books are a pretty good franchise. And the book must be doing pretty well since Wiley recently published a revised edition. He might disagree – the top of this is so far away, I’m too lazy to check – but this is a much better time to be paid for writing about beer than it was 20 years ago.

    Curiously – because of where you started – your post and the zillion comments that follow amount to a conversation that has been repeated often enough (for those of us who have been reading them) that it hardly seems we need another. Blogging vs. print, paid vs. free, short form vs. long form. But, as is obvious here, it is new for many.

    I think a bigger question starts from a premise Garrett Oliver put forth last year during a presentation at the Great American Beer Festival (supporting the “Oxford Companion to Beer”). He said that there is a great thirst (sorry for the pun) for beer knowledge out there and a need for writers to tell readers something new. Are beer writers, and in this case I’m referring to whatever form (print, blogs, probably even podcasts), filling that need? If not, how can they?

    • Kid Carboy Jr.
      August 28, 2012 at 12:02 am #

      I would think that if Garrett wanted to give people “something new,” a good place to start would have been accurate information in the Oxford Companion regarding things like the origin of IPA, a topic researched by an actual “beer historian” in Martyn Cornell.

      I am still annoyed by that stuff. It amazes me that there are somehow people who, just because Cornell is prickly, would rather repeat stories about boats and India rather than recognize, oh, I don’t know…research based on primary sources.

      • August 28, 2012 at 5:16 am #

        Kid – My question is how do you get more writing based on sometimes time-consuming research, and how does blogging fit into the equation?

        • Kid Carboy Jr.
          August 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

          I have no idea how you motivate more people to do work based on research, especially when someone who does just that in Cornell doesn’t even have his work consulted or recognized when the tell-all book is written. It doesn’t seem like there’s much incentive to do the kind of thing that he’s doing, when even the facts you uncover don’t end up making their way into the “general knowledge.”

  22. August 25, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    I think it’s rather silly to make this a black and white issue. Some bloggers take a lot of pride in doing research and writing something original, while others take shortcuts and repost content from other sources just to get page views. Guess what? “Legitimate” news outlets do the same thing.

    Sports blogging is another arena where you see this dynamic. I follow and comment on a number of Philadelphia Eagles blogs, where the authors have taken an extraordinary amount of time and effort to put together highly insightful posts about the tiniest details of my favorite team. The national media, like ESPN, or even the local beat writers, can’t compete with the product that guys like Tommy Lawlor, Jimmy Kempski and Brian Solomon post on a daily basis. Then, of course, you have “Bleacher Report,” which is godawful.

    You just need to find the blogs (or other news outlets) that you trust through reading lots of them and weeding out the crap.

  23. August 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    I’ve been a follower for probably about 2 years, but never an active poster. This post forced me to reply. The one thing that I absolutely love about beer (and coming from a huge wine family, that’s saying a lot), is the accessibility of it. I openly admit that I don’t know everything about beer, but I love writing about it. The beauty of it is that I write for me. I have a review blog, but I started it because I wanted to keep track of what beers I liked and which that I didn’t. I completely understand (and in fact, quite enjoy) that a beer that I fall in love with might be one that another blogger completely pans. And vice-versa. I think that the more people we have discussing craft beer, the larger the community gets. And honestly, what’s wrong with that? How awesome is it when you walk into a local bar and more and more craft beers are on tap and more people are talking about it, thus driving the market and the demand for craft beer. From a certain perspective, I can understand that perhaps certain people do it for the “page views.” On a personal level, I couldn’t give less of a crap. I do it for me and to further explore the beer world. In terms of the old guard stating that we’re “taking away from them,” I personally call bull. As with anything else, you on a personal level, determine what is quality and take that at a higher level than something you determine is “crap.” A lot of the beer blogs that I read, tend to be from the more inexperienced blogger because their responses are not only more pure, but less in tune to the beer world and thus less likely to like a beer just because it comes from a certain producer. I’m sorry for the rant, but it’s just my two cents. Please, continue what you guys are doing as it’s an absolutely pleasure to read.

  24. August 26, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    I would say attitudes like Marty’s are what keep people away from craft beer – that you have to be some genius beer nerd who has been around since beer was invented. This came exclusive club attitude is what also chases people away from wine too. The damn wine snobs make us what to say f-it and drink three buck chuck or light beers to spite the uppity nerds. Both should be enjoyed freely without fear of being judged. And hell, what’s wrong with blogging about it?

  25. August 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    As you said, this same dynamic has played out across the old media/new media divide – in politics where blogs gave rise to a new generation or reporters/pundits, in sports media where old guard publications are now replaced by Grantland, SB Nation or Bleacher report, and in just about every sector you can imagine.

    In all cased, one things seems true – there is an onus on people like Marty to adapt if they want to retain their authority (and paycheck). The space is much more meritocratic now, and readers prefer their content come in a variety of vehicles – from instagram pictures to tweets or blog posts like those you and Don write.

    My advice to Marty is update your practices to keep with the times instead of yelling at people to get off your lawn. If you’re writing and insights are as good as you claim, the audience will follow.

    • August 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      Yeah, to borrow a cliche, “The proof is in the pudding.”

  26. Brett
    August 27, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    I clicked over to Marty’s website, and when I saw the tagline “Are you a beer expert? Prove it.”, I felt all joy escaping my body. That’s like the complete antithesis of what makes the craft beer community enjoyable. Just because I can’t identify the exact strain of Brettanomyces yeast used in a brew, that means I’m not allowed to be a craft beer geek anymore? I can’t just get together with my friends and say “I like this”?

    Also, just because something has been written about by “experts” before has nothing to do with anything. If I wanted to start a blog where I review movies and my friends comment on it, should I get a snotty comment from Roger Ebert telling me I’m not the first person to think of doing that? What a ridiculous idea.

    This is the only beer blog I go to, and I have no interest in seeking out more “education”……..I’m educated by my taste buds every time I try a new beer.

    • Kid Carboy Jr.
      August 28, 2012 at 12:05 am #

      This is precisely how I feel.

      We are not “beer experts,” because we do not study the stuff. Therefore, our contribution to this field is one of opinion and our limited sensory perception. And that’s totally fine and valid.

      I’m not going to write about history, because I don’t know history. But just because I DON’T know the history (and wasn’t there to personally experience it), doesn’t mean I can’t make an observation about today’s beer culture. I’m part of that.

    • August 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

      Yeah, I’ve run into that mindset in other venues–it always ruins the experience for me. Thus, I’m not a big fan of “authorities” and “experts”.

  27. August 30, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    I’m newer to the beer blogging world myself. I struggled with the decision to start exactly because there are so many already out there. I’ve been in the beer business (non-writing) for over 11 years and wanted to expand my beer skill set. I’ve used my writing to think more critically about the beer I’m drinking. Mostly I started it for myself. Then I had a few people start following me and then more. They seemed to like my reviews and my educational pieces, so I got more excited about expanding beyond just writing for myself.

    Jim and Don’s blog has quickly become one of my favorites because of its broad content, fun community, and just plain great readability.

    I heartily agree that the quality of writing on the majority of blogs leaves a lot to be desired. I try to re-read my old posts and continually edit them so that they look and read as good as my newer content. If you’re going to do a craft, do it well and with pride.

    I’ll leave you with this last nugget. My favorite quote on the wall of my college English department read: “Thanks to the internet for disproving the old myth that a million monkeys pounding on a million keyboards will eventually reproduce the works of Shakespeare.”

    • August 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

      I started because Don asked me to and it sounded fun, but also because writing about beer makes drinking beer more fun because it adds some purpose to it besides tasting something delicious and getting a little dizzy. Knowing you’ll have to write about it forces you to meditate a bit on what you’re tasting, your thoughts about beer and explore new things (because you need new stuff to write about).

      I think I stuck with it because of the community here. I can only go a day or two without posting something before I start to miss the gang here, cheesy as that sounds. I also like the fact that Don and I have reconnected through this shared space, I just wish he’d sit his ass down in a chair more often and get back into the mix.

      He’s my burly muse!

      • August 30, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

        It’s easy to get distracted while living in Idaho. There’s so much to do…watch potatoes grow…..eat potatoes….carve potatoes…throw potatoes….

        I’m joking, Don. I lived in Caldwell, ID for 5 years. You can also watch onions grow!

        • August 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

          Anyone who rips on Don is OK in my book.

        • August 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

          +1

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