Friday 4 April 2014

The Session #86 - Beer Journalism, or The Inward Debate

Heather Vandenengel of Beer Hobo posits the question :

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?
I will never be a "serious" journalist.  Basically, I lack both persistence and the ability to cultivate people, which are essential characteristics of the breed.  People often say to me "It's easy to take the piss."  Yes.  Yes it is.  And that is why I do it.

I've often remarked that Beer as a subject is taken to be far too important by a lot of people.  Indeed, it is Serious Business, as TV Tropes would no doubt say.  My guess is that the few who make their living from Beer Journalism have what is called 'previous' in such things, whether running focus groups to help flog washing powder or plotting the Socialist Revolution.

Beer Writing, and it's assorted debates and controversies are the proverbial storm in a teacup.  Read any blog on the subject.  You will see the same names commenting on the posts and linking to their own blogs on the subject, where the same names you saw on the original will be doing the same.  Magic wheel keep on turning round, round, round, round.

I'm not dissing this kind of thing.  It's fun to read about things that interest you and talk about them with the like-minded.  But does any of it really matter?  Occasionally, some brewery or it's workers will get the shaft, some pub will close, some drinker will be served a murky pint at the local Spoons.  But as far as the regular drinker and the industry that serves him/her, nobody writing about it really matters.  Shit happens, and will continue to do so.

I like to keep informed.  I read the Morning Advertiser's website, plus the blogs listed to the left of here.  And like reading proper news sites, I find much of the information I read risible or faintly ridiculous.  Is there anything more ridiculous than a person who takes themselves seriously?  If people such as Martin Dickie, Ted Tuppen or Tim Martin didn't exist, you would have to invent them.  Well, I would, anyway.

All-in-all, this a poorly thought out and somewhat facetious plea for less seriousness in the Beer Writing World.  I guess to some people Beer is Important because it's so Trivial.  But it doesn't have to be that way.

Anyway, as per the request in the original article, I'm sharing a link to a piece of beer writing like what I think it should be.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Guide To Craft Beer At Your Local Bar.  I'm not saying it all should be like this, but it makes some important points in a witty and engaging way in between all the jokes.  And isn't that what "leisure activity" journalism should be about?

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