Friday 6 November 2009

Beer Blogging is Cool

A few of my posts have discussed twitter recently, but it’s important. And it’s becoming increasingly important all the time. Beer Swap is a prime example: that started as a blog project but rapidly, through the power of twitter, turned into a social media project (the hashtag of #beerswap seemed to pique interest from all over the world with many people asking what it’s about and how they can be involved). This also highlighted something else: the number of people who write regular tweets about beer and the number of people who actually write blogs about beer.

I’ve only been writing Pencil&Spoon for a year, but in that time the number of other beer blogs has increased massively, especially in the last few months. And there’s a new trend now, which is interesting: beer bloggers are getting younger. Have you noticed that? Hop around the blogosphere and see how many beer bloggers are in their 20s. Brewers are getting younger too and they are having an influence (the New Wave cometh). Combined, these are changing beer in Britain, keeping the traditions of old but invigorating with US boldness.

In blogging terms, I think twitter has a lot to do with it. Everyone knows the sociability of the beer scene and there really is nothing like it – our love for good beer inextricably links us and is the match to start our friendship. Take that sociability, take the curiosity to know what others are drinking, take the fun and drunken tweets, the honest and real-life stuff, the 140-character conversations and soon it’s like sitting in a virtual pub with mates (blogging is the same, just with unlimited letters to do it). What twitter has done is highlight those who are really interested in good beer and opened the community; it’s made it inclusive, it’s shown that there are a lot of people out here who want to drink good beer. And thanks to a few twits and bloggers I think it’s shown that writing about the stuff you drink in the pub, or the bottles you open while watching TV, is pretty good fun.

It boils down to this: Beer blogging is cool. And real ale is cool, too. It’s no longer solely the realm of the old, bearded guy; it’s slowly crept into a young man’s thirsty territory. Beer can’t survive and grow on the old guard alone (although it’s very important, and let’s not forget, age is a state of mind as much as it is a number); it needs new blood, new invigoration and new passion to take it to new places. BrewDog have helped (although this post links in well with the debate sparked from James’ recent interview with FullPint) as have other young brewers, and interest in interesting beer is increasing all the time. British beer is more than murky best bitter and its future ascension rests in the brewing hands of those who make it and those tapping fingers of those who use technology to write about it. With every blog written, every tweet sent and with every new and different brew that hits the pub we are promoting (marketing and physically) British beer.

Is the virtual pub becoming as important as the physical pub?


  1. Yep, Beer Blogging is definitely cool, for definitions of 'cool' that have everything to do with passionate community-based advocacy of a niche interest and nothing whatsoever to do with mass-market consumerism and rampant homogeneity. And long may it be so.

    I think the physical pub still has one important advantage over the virtual, though: the actual physical experience of enjoying good beer and good conversation in good company will always trump any amount of virtual comment-swapping, as enjoyable as the latter is. At least until we all hook up to some sort of virtual environment (iPub, anyone?) and can sup a pint in semi-real time with our fellow beer bloggers, eh?

  2. Darren, I completely agree. There's no beating the real interaction in a real pub with a few real ales - that's what makes drinking so much fun!

    Drinking alone at home with a few bottles makes the virtual pub more appealing.

    And iPub, eh? I like this...!

  3. Really great post Mark and something I've been thinking about for a while now.

    The baby boomers may have something to do with it, moving on from session lager to something with more taste and becoming brewers. There is definitely a change in the air. I've looked at my 'online scrapbook' and noticed I first blogged about it in 2006, but it's only through twitter that I have really felt the push to chat about beer online and follow other virtual beerheads!

    You might want to check out Twitter Taste Live, It's something I enjoyed in January - the one I did was wine, but they do beer as well. Brilliant concept of all tasting the same product and commenting on it live on twitter!

    My experience of Twitter Taste Live


  4. I completely agree! I've only been beer blogging since July (although August was really my first 'proper' month) and I've already had a ton of visits (500 unique visits in October).

    I've made twitter friends with a number of people so that I now have a 'beer bargain reporter' up in the North East (cheers @chilliupnorth!) as well as some receiving some free beer (thanks @adnams - that Broadside was good!).

    All from just a few blog posts and tweets! May the online pub experience continue...

  5. Good comments Mark. I've been involved in various small ways in the 'ale scene' for years, and have a lot of enthusiasm, and I love meeting strangers and talking about beer at festivals, pubs, breweries - you're right there's a common bond that makes it easy to strike up a conversation and get to know people. And I've had a niggling feeling for years that I should be doing more - specifically, writing about it. Time and inertia have always conspired against me, but with Twitter (which I guess I've only really been using for about a month or two) I've found I can connect with people and say a bit about beer now and again, and it's been great to almost immediately get involved in a Twitter/Beer project - #beerswap - so there is some practical effect to this virtual linking-up. I still feel a definite niggle that I want to do more, say more - it's finding an inlet to do that, that I'm struggling with at the minute. I don't think I could launch my own blog until I've honed down more what I want to say and how to put it across - but I'm hoping I could perhaps write the odd guest ale review or something here and there, to get me started - perhaps Beerswap will give me that kick up the butt to do something. Then I can unleash my opinions and beery thoughts, and maybe that niggling feeling will go away!

  6. I have this feeling that one of these days I will have to go the twitter route. However, the fact that I abhor text speak and things like that means I will have to get very creative with what I actually say (I guess that is one way to say I am a long winded berk at the best of times, obviously, given my last sentence!).

  7. Rewriting tweets so that they fit in the 140 characters is actually damn good editing practice! I've never had to resort to text speak yet.

    Good point about a new generation; I think this definitely has an effect but you're spot on about age being a state of mind. People who were punks in the 1970s are in or approaching their 50s now. I suspect they haven't changed that much. It's good beer against boring beer, not old against young – and it always has been.

  8. Beer Blogging is not cool. It's about as cool as warm vinegar in the Sahara. The arts, now that's cool.

  9. Only problem I have with the amount of blogs is getting the time to read 'em, let alone catching up on writng!

    As a practitioner of the arts, I think it's all cool :P

    (didn't say exactly which arts now...)

  10. Good post:echoing various thoughts that I've been mulling over. Quality and passion are the things, and many of the newer brewers seem to have both. I haven't caught up with Brewdog yet, but fear they may be more style rather than substance.
    You can't beat the interaction and conviviality of a real pub, but blogging, and replying to blogs goes some of the way.

  11. Twitter does seem to have the effect of reducing the amount of commenting on blogs, which is a shame I think.

    However, twitter increases the sociability of bloggers, so that can't be bad.

    Beer is cool and it's great to see so many younger cool people blogging and twittering about beer. It gives me hope that there is a great future for beer.

  12. Richard, we should try and arrange a Beer Twitter Taste Live sometime. Maybe we could get beermerchants involved, everyone buys a (subsidised price?) box of a few different beers and we all agree on a day and time and drink them together? That's be very cool!

    Baron, getting free beer is one of the perks! It seems a few tweeting breweries are sending stuff out too - it's good.

    Tania, do it! Bite the bullet and start blogging!! Beerswap can get you started and you've already got a ready-made set of readers! And starting to write it will ultimately lead you in to writing what you want to say. It took me a few months before I found 'my voice' in the beer blogs.

    Al, I see you've jumped into twitter since commenting - welcome along! And you don't need txt spk, you can write like normal, just say it in less words!

    Barm, I agree. Age means nothing, it's the product and the mentality.

    Wurst, the arts are very cool.

    Barry, I know what you mean! There's a lot of reading to do every day, hence why it's taken me two days to reply to the comments!

    Wittenden, welcome. There is a greatd conviviality to blogs and tweets and they a good way of socialising with people who live all over the world. RE: Brewdog. Some is style but mostly their substance lives up to it. Most of their beers are excellent, I've spoken about nearly all of them on this blog, too.

    Dave, less comments is a shame because that's where the interesting conversations take place, but different conversations can take place in tweets. I do hope this is all a good sign for beer, either that or the pubs will all close and everyone will just buy and drink all their beer online!!!

  13. As someone who only really enjoys blogging as a form of self-publicity, I'm saddened by its degeneration into some sort of new-age conversation between geeks. Previously the beer blog scene in the UK was just a load of people reading my website and admiring me for being such a great writer. Now I'm spat upon! ;-)

  14. Jeff, I didn't realise you still wrote a blog?! ;)

  15. The iPub - that's an idea that could indeed run (I like the way it combines i for internet and I for me ...)

    There's also an interesting debate on "why I beerblog" - yes, ego's involved ("I" again) but personally I do it in very large part to get information out about beer and its past and present that Ican't get into the public domain any other way.