Reasons to be Cheerful

We don’t generally cast ourselves as cheerleaders but today, with the sun shining, we wanted to take a minute to ac-cen-tu-ate the positives.

1. There are loads of great pubs and bars still to discover. We’re 143 pubs into our #EveryPubInBristol mission and still finding gems like The Beaufort

2. And new ones are opening or re-opening all the time in unexpected places, such as The Pursuit of Hoppiness in Exeter, or the Barrel at Bude.

3. Even with our Every Pub mission, and having been in various small towns, suburbs and villages, we haven’t had a really rank pint in months. We can’t recall the last time we felt the need to complain and ask for a replacement.

4. There’s more choice of beer and beer styles than most of us have the time to do anything about, even outside the hippest centres of craft beer culture. For example, Marks & Spencer announced a new beer range this week which includes a Saison from St Austell, and our local CO-OP has a choice of canned session IPAs, all perfectly decent. The average small-town Wetherspoon can usually do you a double IPA, a choice of standard IPAs, a choice of wheat beers, one or two Trappist beers, and that’s without even looking at the taps.

The beer garden at The Pirate.

5. It’s nearly beer garden season! The evenings are drawing out, the grass is growing over the muddy patches, and the picnic tables are being sanded down. If we don’t get to sit in the sun drinking pints of lager in the next fortnight, something will have gone dreadfully wrong.

6. There are people out there just discovering how interesting and exciting beer can be, drifting towards the thrill-ride of becoming a Five. Someone out there will drink their first Westmalle Tripel today! (Further reading: ‘Dare I Say Wine for Wives?’)

7. Adnams, Fuller’s, Harvey’s, St Austell, Timothy Taylor and a ton of other respected family breweries are not only still going strong but (a) continuing to brew classics such as ESB and Landlord and (b) brewing genuinely interesting side project beers, including a flood of porters.

8. There is beer on TV. It seemed impossible a few years ago but now there’s beer most weekends on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, brewer Jaega Wise has joined the crew on ITV’s The Wine Show, and ‘Jolly’ Olly Smith is currently working on series 3 of Ale Trails for the Travel Channel.

9. Every weekend for the past few years we’ve managed to find enough interesting writing about beer and pubs to populate a blog post with links. There’s more good stuff in 2018 than there was in 2014, covering a wider range of topics from different perspectives. Recently, for the first time, there was so much going on we had to resort to bullet points to get it all in.

10. Beer in general continues to be really tasty, and getting tipsy with friends and family is still great fun.

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Staying excited about blogging

Empty beer glass.
Beer blogging — time for a refill?

In marking his 1000th post, fellow beer blogger Tandleman suggested (as we read it) that beer blogging was in the doldrums at the moment — that Twitter had stolen some of the conversation that used to take place in the comments sections of blogs and that beer bloggers were therefore less motivated to write new posts. Others seconded that emotion. (© Smokey Robinson.)

Speaking for ourselves, we’ve never had more energy and enthusiasm for blogging, but we do know what they mean. With that in mind, here are a few things that keep us keen, which you may or may not find useful.

1. Johnny Five needs input!

Read a book, visit a pub, drink something new, go to a museum, watch a film… It doesn’t have to be directly beer-related: we’re sufficiently obsessed with beer that even the most mundane and tangential experience can trigger an idea for a blog post.

2. “You’ve got to have a project.”

An acquaintance of ours used to say that with reference to his love life, but it applies more generally. Maybe it’s a book; maybe it’s a self-imposed ‘mission’; a contribution to the collective wisdom; or a record of a trip abroad; but it doesn’t really matter. The point is, if we have a goal, we have a reason to write a post, rather than putting it off until, suddenly, it’s been six months since we last wrote anything.

3. Try something new to spice things up.

Yes, this has all gone a bit Dear Deidre. When we’re bored of writing, we take some photographs, make a graph, dig up some videos, paint pictures, cook something. We write in a different voice to the one we normally employ. We make a list. Go off topic. Blog about blogging.

4. Avoid the bloggers’ equivalent of Dartitis.

The longer the gap between posts, the more seems to be riding on the next one. We try not to agonise too much about whether to post something: we write quickly, read it through, and bung it up. If people don’t like it, so what? You win some, you lose some. It’ll be forgotten tomorrow when we put up the next post, and the one after that.

5. Take a break before you quit.

It’s always sad when bloggers quit. When we really lost enthusiasm in 2010, and thought about quitting, what we actually did was take a break. We decided how long it was going to be and announced it, without feeling the need to apologise. At the end of that period, our notebooks were bulging with ideas for posts we wanted to write. (If they hadn’t been, then that would have been the sign to call it a day.)

Please forgive us for blogging about blogging — we don’t do it often, relatively speaking.