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TEN YEARS OF BLOGGING Q&A

 


 

 

This year makes it ten years that I've been writing about beer in blog form. In celebration I thought I'd borrow from Boak & Bailey's 15 year anniversary format and answer some questions from my Twitter followers. Thank you to everybody that took the time to even bother putting questions forward and sorry to anybody who doesn't enjoy excessive use of quotation marks.   

 

Ten years - so how have things changed in Beer in that time? 

I thought I'd start with the expected opener. 

I'm sitting looking at the walls of my "local" as I write this. This became my after work regular haunt about ten years ago. I think the walls are a different colour. 

That resonates in some ways. Beer life outside of the city centres doesn't change all that much. I feel no different about the world of beer when I am sat within the pub than I did in 2012. In the busy hubs and on social media the impression is that it is always changing or evolving. But I'm currently enjoying a pint of sparkled cask pale ale and that was true back in 2012. Nothing is new outside the bubble, even if the names and pump clips are.

The service in the pub has changed though.

 

What does “craft” mean to you? 

I've read this as "in terms of definition" rather than on a deep, personal level. 

I don't mind the word "craft" to make a distinction between different types of beer and breweries. The lines are blurred though because no satisfactory definition exists, but I don't really think we need to get bogged down in one. Do I consider Adnams "craft?" No. Do I think they make delicious beer that is the height of "the craft?" Yes. Do I use "craft" to make a distinction between Adnams and a brewery such as Track Brewing Co? Yes, but not in a way that is meant to be derogatory to either. 

It is difficult to describe, and some people need the guidelines and definition to aid them. I don’t. Let’s not worry about it too much.  

 

Given the experience of the pandemic have you thought differently about drinking at home vs the pub? 

I actually struggled with the transition because I was so used to drinking at home. For a period last year I would go to the pub and then carry on drinking at home, so that I could have the best of both worlds. It wasn't good. 

This year I’ve favoured the pub and been able to draw the line a little better. In fact the levels of my beer stash at home became unreasonable because I was never drinking there. 

I’ve had more at home now because a puppy means that I'm out less. But yes, I am now at a point of mostly drinking out rather than in as a preference. 

 

If craft beer was banned and you had to become the Beer Barron like Homer on that one Simpsons episode What styles of beer would you make to appease the masses? Baring in mind you’d have limited resources

You've specified craft beer and limited ingredients... so "regular" beer is still going? It sounds like pre-2005 Britain to be fair, so if my ingredients were fairly limited I would brew a single 'C' hopped pale ale to bring the bitter back. Bring your tankards 'round to my bathtub, team! 

 

If Luton get promotion this year over Huddersfield, will this hurt more than Magic Rock being sold to Lion? (Note these questions were asked a couple of months ago, before recent developments.) 

I've no objection to Luton. Their recent rise has been good for football. However, I do hope Forest absolutely tank in the Premier League. A team I respected 12 months ago but who have shown to have a horrible online fan base. Them doing well wouldn’t hurt me but it would hurt football.  

 


 

 

How difficult was it for you to make the decision to start writing about your own experiences of the relationship between mental health and beer? 

Good question. I never intended this blog to become like Live Journal but writing about those parts of me saved my life. The post that it was most key for me to write was this in 2015 but I wrote most of it in 2014, never finding the strength to hit publish. So, in terms of difficulty levels, it has been tough at times. But critical. There’s a lot more to be said and I’m pleased to see many other posts, on various sites and in various publications, cropping up. 

 

I've kept these questions anonymous but Paul Donald can have his own quick fire round, since he asked so many. "Questions questions fill my head" 

 1. 10 years into beer blogging, what have you learned from blogging?

The written word can still resonate with many.

2. What’s you favourite thing about beer blogging? 

I'm not a great communicator or confident in front of people. I admire people that do a lot of panel discussions, public speaking, video media or even TikToks. I can't do that. Blogging gave me a voice that I wouldn't otherwise have. 

3. Is there a blog you have written but haven’t put out there for any reason?

Many. Often I jot down thoughts when I have them but can't find the time in my schedule to edit them into something coherent. And by the time that I do, I've lost interest in the subject that I was writing. I wrote a really great bit about New England IPAs about 18 months ago that now feels irrelevant, so I've let it pass.  

I've written at least three posts about the last 12 months in beer; the era referred to sometimes as Beer's #metoo moment. I'm just trying to reword things so I do not call a fair few of fellow beer communicators unsavoury words but my ongoing frustration at their silence isn't helping. I'll get there.

Heck, I even answered these questions about five weeks ago and have only just found the time to format it into a blog post. My efficiency levels are low but I do have a busy job and life commitments.

4. Is there a style of beer you just don’t get?

See below Kettle Sour comment but still No. Beer should always keep being creative. Although I had some dark beers in Hungary from a supermarket 10 years ago that were so treacley I did consider who the hell they were for. 

5. Why the name Wilbur

Ha! Because otherwise he'd be named something like Single Hopped Mosaic Pale. Or Jarl. 

6. Do you think beer blogging will still be a thing in 5 years?

Are books still a thing? 

When people write that Blogging is dead they are usually involved in marketing new technologies or trying to develop algorithms. As stated above, if the written word didn't exist then I would have had no way of sharing my issues and may have taken my own life. Why would people want to erase that?

Also, without blogging we'd have TikTok videos of Boak and Bailey reading extracts of a book from 1973 about the pubs of Peterborough in Victorian England. I'm sure they are very good orators, but I'd rather read the blog post thank you. 

7. Are you still reading this? 

You are yet to criticise smoked beer so yes. 

8. Is independence in beer important or is it all about the beer? 

I'm an anarchist. Acceptance of brewery buyouts is an acceptance of capitalism. I have to live in such a system at present. I wish I did not. 

9. What’s the best thing about beer? 

There are many things I enjoy but The Pub will always win for me. I'd be lost without it. Truly.

10. Thanks for writing your blog it’s always a great read! 

As a sufferer of many things, it is always great to hear this. 

Thanks Paul

 

 

What’s the one beer style you would consign to the depths of space? And why is it mild? 

Haha. My transition through beer began from a love of Guinness and Murphy's. When I played football for a pub team, the post match pint order was "Ten Carlings and one Guinness." The first cask beers I enjoyed were stouts and milds. Then I went a bit more amber. The last style from the bar that I found enjoyment in were the pale and bitter styles that I love now.

My point is that I loved mild when I was 18 and so believe that it has its place. What doesn't have a place are the bogus claims, from people who have never taken a sip, that it is a style they have long heralded. I applaud the people that don't like it sticking to those opinions, rather than people chasing something because of some flipping influencer. 

To answer the first part of the question - I really can find something to enjoy in every beer style. But one that I do struggle with is the quickly made, Lactobacillus, lazily-brewed Kettle Sours. Either make a proper beer in the sour spectrum or piss off. Okay, yeah, definitely Kettle Sours. 

 

 

Given Marley's passing, how hard has it been going back to bars/pubs/brewtaps for the first time without him? This is partly about your own memories but also the inevitable questions of 'Where's Marley?' from people who didn't know.

To reference the second part first, it was actually people coming up to me in the pub to offer condolences that was really difficult. You never really consider the impact your furry companions made on others until regulars that you don't really speak to start asking you about them. One guy, who had never previously seemed the type to share personal feelings, even broke down as he opened up to me about losing his own dogs. 

To name a specific location though, going back to Torrside was really difficult. It still is. Oh how he loved it. Okay, my face is getting hot. Next. 

 


 

 

 

Ten years in, what are you most fed up with in beer? (I've flipped from excited youngster to bitter cynic pretty hard over the last couple of years)

I started a cynic and have regressed so I'm fairly open. I feel quite positive about beer now (as a general experience - not to belittle the continued social issues that are being confronted daily in the hope we can affect change for everyone.)

I'll use the podcast Men Beerhaving Badly as an example... 10 years ago I would have never listened to their podcast. I would have thought them naive, silly boys who don't know anything about beer and were not worth my time. Instead, I have enjoyed listening to their often uninformed (and I mean that in the nicest way) journey through beer and their joy and enthusiasm for it that many of us have lost. Just lovely people having a lovely time with beer. 

To once again answer the original question, I am absolutely fed up with the people that have financial interest in beer controlling the stakes and narrative. I'm fed up of seeing the same 20 breweries given articles and airtime. I'm fed up of seeing people who financially benefit from new hype, such as the rise in mild, controlling the narrative. People need to see through it. Read more free blogs (upside down head emoji.)

 

What’s your top tier snack to eat and pair with beer, and can you give examples for different beer styles? 

I'm actually not a big beer and food pairer in general. I'm a simple drinker who loves a pack of Bacon Fries with their pint. I will say that the only place I enjoy Cheese and Onion Crisps is in the pub, where they taste fantastic with beer. There must be something in that. 

In experiential terms, a pint of Boddingtons with Seabrooks Wasabi Crisps in the King Bill, Greenfield around 12 years ago was top tier. You can factor in your own pale ale. 

 

How important is a pub's choice of beers? Is there a point where a poor choice of beer/breweries will make a pub an unappealing place to visit?

There are two questions here that will probably earn their own blog post at some point. I have too much to say.

I will answer the second point briefly here   - yes. It has happened in my past where I have cut out my regular places, even for after work visits, due to reduction in quality. It will happen even more now with the increase in the price of beer.

My first "local" as a teen was a Thwaites house with limited options. But even that once offered 4 cask beers and some European styles on draught and the pub did a roaring trade. When new managers came in and reduced it to the barest of options many, including myself, moved on. It can happen to any establishment.

It is going to be difficult to play it smart for many pubs. If you have previously offered the best beers, but are now offering the cheapest and most average pish available to keep prices reasonable, you will see me walk. Far. And keep walking. Telling my friends along the way. Storm Brewing? Don't be ridiculous. Money is tight now and I will spend it elsewhere.

I have lots to say... another time. 

 

How has Beer Blogging changed in your opinion in 10 years? 

This probably felt like an innocent question but oh do I have thoughts again.

Interaction is probably the main thing here. The blog comments section used to be the main place for discussion, with a couple of Twitter responses to go in. Now the responses I receive are almost exclusively Twitter and Instagram based and can alter being post "quoting," direct comments or DMs. Some of my most read posts have zero comments on the site even though it felt like I spent weeks talking with people about them. Sometimes that surprises me but then many want to personally connect, rather than anonymously correcting me about the exact opening year of a pub in Glossop. 

The main switch was around 5 years ago when "clout" started to come in. I'll never forget receiving a message from a new blogger asking me "how I manged to get so many people reading my blog" and when I explained that it was just by writing about what I wanted and enjoyed, their response was "LOL- but seriously..." 

Then the "content" hunters started. I'm sure I saw somebody recently lament the fact that their first child had been born as it made creating "content" difficult. That doesn’t sound like a happy life balance. 

In reference to an earlier question: beer blogging will only diminish because nothing new will ever be created by people for the fun of it. Not when there is money to be made in other media. Audience reaching is now the end game. It isn't doing something for the fun of it. All hobbies need to be a side hustle. Those of us left though will keep on at it. For as long as my organs hold out.

 

Thank you to all that asked questions and thank you for all the interactions over the last 10 years. Life moves on, and my posts are not as frequent, but this is still where I am most at home. I may stretch into other media one day but this will never stop. 

 


 

 

 

 

Comments

Kirk said…
Thanks for a great read, always enjoy your posts (especially the ones that include a non league football outing) and insights into pubs and beer!

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