Time once again to tackle the Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday: a monthly opportunity for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their unique perspective on the same topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts The Session, chooses a topic, and creates a round-up that lists all of the participants.
What role do beer writers play in the culture and growth of craft beer? Are we advocates, critics, or storytellers? What stories are not getting told and what ones would you like to never hear about again? What’s your beer media diet? i.e. what publications/blogs/sites do you read to learn about industry? Are all beer journalists subhumans? Is beer journalism a tepid affair and/or a moribund endeavor? And if so, what can be done about it?
This has been hard. I’ve started writing several different responses to this. I had a half baked mess of rant, strawman and navel-gazing. Everyone loves that shit right?
However, to answer the actual questions posed, I read a lot of others’ beer writing. Each week, I distil the dozens of feeds I follow down into Monday Reading, a collection of what I think are the most worthwhile reads of the last week – sometimes with my own commentary thrown in, sometimes not – and a handful of people seem to get something out of it. I select the more thought-provoking pieces, leaning toward the analytical and cynical, but sometimes people write about things that are just downright cool.
This week’s edition was less about us and more about some top notch writing from around the world. Check it out. If you like it, you can come back each Monday and see what else the beer world is thinking about. Next week’s is looking just as good.
It wasn’t really my intention to use The Session to plug part of the blog, so I thought I would write a short snippet about something that’s been on my mind and is tangentially related to the topic at hand:
In defence of beer reviews
As a cornerstone of the beer blogosphere, I’m sure writing about actual beers – rather than the culture around beer – and giving an opinion of them is how many get their start writing about beer. Writing beer reviews is how we got started too.
Every now and again I come across a blogger who dismisses the beer review as a concept. Usually, it’s accompanied with a literary eye roll, maybe a sneer or a yawn with the plea that people write something different.
I feel that not everything that gets written about beer is aimed at you, a person so into beer that you’re reading The Session. From our stats, if it’s not a majority, it’s a very large minority of people who end up on this blog do so through search engines (admittedly, sometimes they’re looking for whores or mollycoddling). To prove a point, here’s our top twenty posts/pages by hits as of a few days ago:
The ones highlighted in yellow are reviews, which means that people are looking for information about these beers and we’ve been able to provide it, assuming the absence of “what the crap is this?” style comments means that we’re successfully filling the niche.
Sure, I don’t read other people’s reviews much myself and some reviews might be questionable because they were freebies. As in real journalism, I feel disclosure is essential. Queen City Drinks are a great example about how it should be done.
However, the fact that someone is bored by them doesn’t mean that they don’t have value. The pool of people with a passing interest in a beer is much larger than the small bubble of beer nerds that make up the online blogosphere. I say keep at it, fellow beer reviewers, let’s document every beer in a thoughtful and constructive way.