Was an observation by @rogerprotzbeer at last night’s meeting where he pointed out lack of beer-related periodicals. Gender? Food? Thoughts?
— Dave Bailey (@HardKnottDave) June 12, 2013
First, the gender question: there might be something in that, but then there are ultra-specialist magazines which aren’t especially ‘gendered’, and there’s no reason why a beer magazine, if a decent one existed, couldn’t sit with the food mags. We know loads of blokes who buy and read cookery magazines. Everyone eats, after all, and, as it’s not the nineteen-fifties, quite a few blokes know their way around a kitchen these days.
Secondly, though, the content: what the hell do you put in a magazine about beer? Generalist food magazines fill their pages with recipes (‘Fifteen ten minute summer suppers’) and consumer reviews, but that wouldn’t work so well for beer, because it’s a finished product, not an ingredient. ‘One hundred great lagers’ might work, but, really, just reading a list of beers you probably won’t be able to find in your local shop, with some tasting notes, is not likely to be that inspiring or exciting to most people.
Really specialist magazines such as, say, Retro Gamer, do fill their pages every month, and sell well enough to keep going, but they do so by appealing to a minority audience of hardcore geeks, and, frankly, by repeating themselves. We bought it for a couple of years and stopped when we’d read the story of the founding of Atari for the third time. Another example, Computer Music magazine, relies on multipage ‘ultimate’ and ‘beginners’ guides to production techniques and product reviews and, again, repeats itself on a fairly regular cycle. It does not, apparently, have loyal readers.
A quarterly or yearly product might stand more chance of commercial succcess. We’d buy, say, Good Food Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to Beer 2013, in the ‘bookazine’ format, for a long train journey. Alternatively, there is the bleeding-edge-cool, beautifully designed subscription journal model. Gin & It, about booze, is already with us, and Mark from Real Ale Reviews has previously suggested that this football publication might be a good model for beer writing.
Realistically, beer is one facet of ‘drink’, which is one facet of ‘food and drink’, and it is probably too ambitious to expect consumers to support a publication with such a narrow focus. A decent couple of pages on beer in existing food magazines, and good quality regular columns in the lifestyle sections of newspapers and current affairs magazines, would do us.
UPDATE 12:33 12/6/2013
After we posted it came to light through Twitter that there are some plans afoot at Future Publishing.