On the day that I wrote my first blog post…
I was reading the words of encouragement from a non-beer industry friend. I wondered whether I could replicate the intrigue and knowledge of those I had been reading since I joined the cyber beer space. I decided to add a voice – a personal voice – without comprehension of how serious it was taken.
And we had an exciting range of beers to talk about and exciting developments. The industry was more enclosed. My follower count was less than thirty, but then my favourite breweries had less than 200. They could interact. They interacted as themselves; as small one-two person bands do.
And the choices were slightly more limited. You shopped at one of three or four online stores. I knew of only one specialist independent retailer. The bars weren’t numerous. Anything imported under six months old was considered luxuriously fresh.
And an old head shared my first post with kind words. And others took notice, with inspiration or constructive criticism. Some were curious of newcomers and disagreements or times we shared different opinions were done so respectfully.
And I still sat in one of my favourite locals, with a pint of cask beer, feeling slightly distant from it, on the day that I wrote my first blog post.
The world became slightly bigger. The posts garnered a little more recognition; some with as many as two retweets and three comments. Other bloggers that started at similar times became peers. We didn’t meet but we knew each other through the internet and supported each other.
And little festivals began to spring up. I went with friends from years previous. I’d sometimes point out faces that I recognised from Twitter but never interacted.
And some of those older heads were pissed off with me, though it was only a sign that I was becoming more confident in myself. Passions were flaring from many sides though rarely breaking out into full on shit storms, just shit drizzle.
And the number of breweries increased but all were still given a chance to prove themselves and a degree of support. Every new starter, no matter what their tact, was approached with excitement and intrigue.
Still I spent most of my days sat in one of my favourite locals, with a pint of cask beer, thinking how good it was to be as passionate about something as much as I was on the day that I wrote my first blog post.
Beer blew and all the balling starts. There were a lot of bloggers, but they were joined with YouTubers and Podcasters.
And your favourite Twitter personalities and homebrew specialists started to make realities of their dreams. The new breweries were owned by names and faces that you were familiar with, bringing together a community of real support and genuine anticipation.
And your favourite online retailer had competition. And you no longer needed to travel thirty miles for that great bottle shop because it was less than ten miles away.
And there were marketers slightly more involved in the industry as they moved further towards design and packaging and use of social media. And some of those people involved were also familiar names.
And there were newer names to interact with. I even met a few of them in person. Beer peers became real friends. But through it all I still read every word from those bloggers that inspired me to write, knowing their perspective was very important.
And the beers were suddenly a little fresher, which became part of the conversation. But we were still allowed to enjoy what we wanted, when we wanted, how we wanted. If you wanted IPA, bock, lambic, rauch, whatever, you were able to drink it and breweries promoted every style equally; still brewing what they wanted. A few more beer focused bars opened and I’d visit them every weekend but still come home to one of my favourite locals, where I would sit with a pint of cask, just like the day that I wrote my first blog post.
Your favourite bloggers got jobs within the industry. Some were in marketing. Some were in sales. Some were in brewing. Some were professional writers. You were happy for all of them. Beer people in beer positions. Still writing that good shit but working in jobs that made them happy.
And your favourite breweries started to be bought out. We tried to see the positives but we felt slightly uneasy about it. Still, it is only beer. There were so many new breweries that it was hard to keep track. I tried to give each new brewery a chance every time I saw one but soon it became a case of drinking nothing but new stuff.
And some of those new starters arrived with enormous budgets and ideas. They weren’t always welcome.
And there was now a new beer festival a month. There were now three hundred online subscription services. That local bottle shop had moved another seven miles closer to your house. The previous retailers were forgotten.
And the respected longer serving beer personalities became increasingly curmudgeonly. And those with less beer drinking experience than Lil Tay started to talk as if they knew much, much better.
And the trends became ludicrous; involving iceman pours and floaters. People mocked. Temporarily.
And my “follower” count ticked over my “following” for the first time. People were still too kind and complimentary. But there were a couple of coat-tail clingers grabbing hold of everybody who hadn’t been a part of any conversations who, overnight, were profiling every brewery they could daily.
And I became a little disillusioned but could always go back to one of my favourite locals, to drink a pint of cask, just like I did the day that I wrote my first blog post.
There were only two or three styles of beer left in the entire UK beer industry and the only way to be successful was to brew them. Every brewery considered worth a grain of salt brewed trendy styles whilst the marketers thrust it into your face.
And those styles and promotions were helped along by names and faces that I’d previously adored. The machine had employed those desperate for a press release or a hot take. I started to feel respect loosening. Mutually.
And the beers were now so fresh that canning dates were everything. And canning itself was everything because bottles had been forgotten. And the style of the beer in the can was now more important than the quality.
And the experienced heads lost respect for me, even though I knew we were more alike in our attitudes to beer and pubs than they understood. Opinions that transcended beer became enough to build barriers. Beer social media was an eternal shit storm.
And there were now enough young (in terms of experience) drinkers running Facebook forums and Instagram posts that their influence was more valuable than your knowledge. “Those who shout loudest” became the industry’s unspoken motto.
And the best bloggers had settled down and had children, putting the websites to sleep. Some of the sites that had inspired me were gone. Some of the friends I had made along the way had gone quiet on me, just because we shared different political or social views, even though that is never a problem for me. I shared pints of cask beer, in one of my favourite locals, with friends with very different opinions to me all the time, just like I did on the day that I wrote my first blog post.
The bloggers became YouTubers, the Youtubers became podcasters, the podcasters became marketers, the marketers were the bloggers who are now brewers that have a side distribution company that employs three Instagram influencers and places spies within online Facebook groups.
And the size of your measure was chosen for you.
And the size of your purchasing measure was increased so that it could be more expensive. And the marketers successfully convinced everybody that big bottles were shit but huge cans were incredible. And people bought it.
And the marketing team convinced everybody that beer over a week old was crap. But it could soon be replaced by next week’s release that needed to be consumed equally as quick. And people bought it.
And the styles people drank were only those en vogue. The marketers convinced the people that they didn’t want the beers they thought. Barleywine drinkers were successfully duped into believing lager was the greatest style in the world. Specific beer drinkers suddenly wanted dry, tasteless IPA. And people bought it.
And the marketing team ensured that brewers never had to enter social media again, that those days of interaction were long gone.
And the marketing team also worked for a distribution company and ran the social media for a big city centre brewery and also worked on the blog for another whilst running the Twitter accounts for the other down the road, or at least giving those responsibilities to a friend in the industry who had kissed enough coat-tails to earn a position – apparently – running the same sort of influence for the same amount of people. And they also ran a podcast that was full of adverts that ripped off the ideas of bloggers that worked for free and came up with their fucking content years before but would now look stupid for putting fingers to keys again in case somebody related to the marketing podcasting YouTubing writing editorial guild should complain.
And so, much like many industries, your opinions, decisions and tastes were decided for you from all sides by people all working under the same roof.
And going into a shop and purchasing beer was not enough, even though you now owned it and could do what you wanted. If you bought eggs direct from a farmer they never turned around and said “Don’t use these to bake a cake or make burgers or even think about scrambling them – this is how they should be consumed…. “
But beer people were happy to dictate to you how beverages that you had paid money for and owned should be used. You couldn’t have fun. You couldn’t put it in the wrong glass. You couldn’t age it for an inappropriate time. You couldn’t skull it from the can. You couldn’t share it with friends.
And don’t even think about ageing that Unhuman Cannonball for a brilliant afternoon shared with wonderful people.
You could, however, now Iceman pour it because a five figure follower Instagram account was too good marketing to miss out on.
And not a single person working in the industry had sipped a beer before 2009.
And every blog that started around the time of mine was now defunct.
And the only people that were left were those more experienced drinkers who were shaking their heads, like parents who had watched their children go through a rebellious teenage phase, knowing that they would mature someday.
And, whilst the world ate itself, and I no longer knew who to consider friend or foe, I scribbled all this down, whilst sat in one of my favourite locals, drinking a pint of cask beer, just like the day that I wrote my first blog post.