Apparently, there have been mutterings at the latest meeting of the Beer Writer's Guild. Why is there no national, newsagent-distributed magazine about beer, they have been asking? Well, I can see quite a few reasons. But I think I can explain the main one here.
Any widely available magazine lives and dies on its advertising sales. While the beer geek would be interested in long articles about say, the history of Meux's Brewery or an interview with the bloke behind Kernel, it would not help Shepherd Neame shift more bottles of Spitfire. Mags tailor their content to attract advertisers, which is why a beer periodical would do tasting notes and puff pieces on breweries. And would the blogging, tweeting, IPA sipping beer hipster crowd buy that for long? Would anybody?
Case in point : there's a motor sport mag called, well, MotorSport and they do a large section on road car reviews despite the majority of it's readers being somewhat uninterested in the handling characteristics of the latest Audi A8. The advertisers love it, apparently, as they can tie it in with their product much better than they could an article about how many cars Vittorio Brambilla wrecked in the mid-70s.
There is actually a Whisky Magazine on sale, but the advertising model holds here too. 99% of whiskies are produced by big companies or their subsiduaries. It's not really a crowded marketplace, and there is plenty of ad-spend to go round. Anyway, whisky is positioned as a "luxury" rather than everyday product, so the stuff in Whisky Mag tends to be aspirational rather than informative. Advertisers love "aspirational".
The rumour at the moment is that Future Publishing will be doing a beer mag soon. Well, I've not bought any of their esteemed publications since they cancelled Cult TV 15 years ago. But I did buy their computer mags for nearly a decade. Apparently, some poor souls even believed their numerical ratings were based on the actual quality of the product...