Do beer blogs matter at all?

Inso­far as blogs are at all impor­tant, it is for the fol­low­ing rea­sons:

  • They have a dis­pro­por­tion­ate effect on ‘the buzz’. Some­one who’s just heard of Thorn­bridge Brew­ery might Google “Thorn­bridge beer” term and, in so doing, would find sev­er­al blogs in the first two pages of results. Not only that but, if they’re any­thing like us, those results will leap out at them over the bor­ing local news­pa­per sto­ries and direc­to­ry list­ings. Blogs, because they are full of ‘sub­ject rel­e­vant con­tent’ and organ­ic links to one anoth­er, storm the Google rank­ings.
  • Blog­gers aren’t freaks – they’re just peo­ple whose inter­est in beer over­laps with an inter­est in writ­ing (or being the cen­tre of atten­tion, or web design, or what­ev­er else moti­vates them). What the small num­ber of blog­gers say can give an insight into what a slight­ly larg­er group of drinkers are think­ing but not express­ing. There are blogs to rep­re­sent all types of drinkers, too – not just the cork-and-cage brigade and CAMRA man.
  • They give con­sumers a voice: where, once, only pro­fes­sion­al jour­nal­ists could cause trou­ble for busi­ness­es, now any­one with a Blog­ger or Word­Press account has the poten­tial to do the same thing. That can be a nui­sance for busi­ness­es but, from our per­spec­tive, helps to redress the bal­ance of pow­er.
  • At their best, they (a) act as a prov­ing ground for the next gen­er­a­tion of beer writ­ers and (b) moti­vate pro­fes­sion­al beer writ­ers to up their game. If bog-stan­dard beer writ­ing can be got for free, the stuff you want us to pony up for had bet­ter be good.
  • A hand­ful of blogs aren’t just blogs – they’re epic works of schol­ar­ship or insight evolv­ing over time.

We don’t real­ly think any sin­gle blog is that impor­tant or well read (we’ve seen our stats…) but, as a body, they have a cer­tain grav­i­ta­tion­al pull. In the UK, it’s prob­a­bly fair to say that they have more influ­ence with pub­go­ers and beer geeks than any spe­cial­ist print pub­li­ca­tion, except per­haps CAMRA’s.

On the oth­er hand, very few peo­ple who reg­u­lar­ly drink beer ever read any­thing about it, just as mil­lions of peo­ple enjoy music or films with­out pay­ing the slight­est atten­tion to what crit­ics, ama­teur or pro­fes­sion­al, have to say.

29 thoughts on “Do beer blogs matter at all?”

  1. I’d sug­gest most blogs are read by blog­gers them­selves and beers can often be “played up” by blog­gers seek­ing the same expe­ri­ence as the first

    1. You might be right; but how many beer blogs begin with a post say­ing: “I saw how easy this looked and decid­ed to start my own!” Loads. A drinker can become a blog­ger in the ten min­utes it takes to sign up for an account at Word­Press or wher­ev­er.

          1. I saw how easy this looked and decid­ed to start my own!”
            I’m mind­ed to remem­ber what Mark P wrote in Snif­fin’ Glue in 76 or 77 — ‘here are three chords, now go and start a band’.

  2. I real­ly only start­ed my beer review blog as a way to doc­u­ment my own drink­ing expe­ri­ences. I didn’t real­ly start it for any sort of “per­son­al gain”. I did review on Beer­Ad­vo­cate and Rate­beer for a while, but I want­ed to take pic­tures and pos­si­bly do Brew­pub reviews and I thought that start­ing my own blog would be more ben­e­fi­cial in that regard. If I get a few read­ers, that’s great, and I real­ly enjoy the inter­ac­tion I get from time to time. I nev­er received any of that from BA or Rate­beer. I do think that beer blogs have a place, but I also real­ize that not every­one wants to read my take on a par­tic­u­lar beer or brew­ery. It’s all sub­jec­tive I guess. Either way, I will more than like­ly con­tin­ue regard­less of the num­ber of read­ers I have. Like I men­tioned before, I like to use it more for my own per­son­al data base and how I per­cieved the beer at the time of con­sump­tion.

    1. I was like the Krikkit peo­ple – when I start­ed beer blog­ging (or ‘tast­ing notes’ blog­ging, as it was to begin with) I didn’t know there were any beer blogs. Then I dis­cov­ered Zythophile, and for about the first year I was con­vinced there were only two beer blogs. I for­get how I found the rest of you lot. I guess I’m stuck with you now.

      1. I’m glad you see the wis­dom in my point of view. Stop blog­ging forth­with and join me on my cru­sade to write con­trar­i­an opin­ions on peo­ple blogs until peo­ple stop try­ing to share their view with oth­ers and instead con­cen­trate on get­ting pissed up.

        1. If we weren’t blog­ging, we’d prob­a­bly be tee­to­tal. The des­per­ate need for new mate­r­i­al is the only thing that gets us out to the pub at all.

          1. The 2nd law of ther­mo­dy­nam­ics does lead to a real­i­sa­tion of the entrop­ic nature of the uni­verse, it’s con­tin­u­al decay and spi­ral into a still silence of noth­ing­ness. The ulti­mate empti­ness and mean­ing­less­ness of life there­fore can lead to futile attempts to fill the void. Best just accept it. See your voice as one voice shout­ing into the void, the sum total of which when added to the voic­es of oth­ers becomes a dull hum, a back­ground noise.

            So long as there is a squeeze to squeeze and lout to neck, it’s not so bad.

  3. I’ve seen blog­gers fall by the way­side over the last few years main­ly due to the time and effort need­ed to keep it going, and I guess con­tin­u­al­ly try­ing to find inter­est­ing things to say. So I have a sneak­ing admi­ra­tion for those that keep going and remain read­able and top­i­cal. They seem to be ded­i­cat­ed, com­mit­ted and inno­v­a­tive – a ‘Craft’ Blog­ger I say!

    1. Well, I cer­tain­ly hope you don’t include me in that kind and heart­felt praise. I have nev­er been so impressed by the lack of effort required for the job as in my own beer blog­ging. It so neat­ly over­laps with rich day­dream­ing life that it prac­ti­cal­ly no effort at all.

    1. oll­l­l­lo – we’re on it! Anoth­er post on that spe­cif­ic point in the pipeline.

  4. I sup­pose that ini­tial­ly they mat­ter to new and small brew­eries but as their lev­el of suc­cess ris­es they prob­a­bly don’t have quite as much need to be tout­ed be the blog­ging world… although a bit of fee pub­lic­i­ty nev­er did any­one any harm

    But more impor­tant­ly, I’m sure that blogs mat­ter to the peo­ple who read them. Inter­net forums and Twit­ter, etc were/are a great place to meet and inter­act with peo­ple into the same things as your­self – I see blogs as a nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion

    Although some­times I don’t think blog­ging is real­ly all that dif­fer­ent from stamp col­lect­ing

    1. Good point re: small­er brew­eries. The same might also be true for real­ly huge brew­eries (gen­er­al­ly the only ones who offer to send us beer) who know that a bit of pos­i­tive back­ground buzz can be very help­ful.

      It does often feel like being on a late 90s mes­sage­board (Beach Boys’ SMiLE for me; Ley­ton Ori­ent for Boak) only you don’t have to suck up to the mod­er­a­tors and you can ignore/ban/cuss out trolls as you see fit.

  5. Do news­pa­pers mat­ter? Do books mat­ter? Only very briefly, and only a few of them. Most media is ephemer­al.

  6. Blog­ging has intro­duced me to some nice peo­ple. That mat­ters. And some knobs. That doesn’t.

    Over­all though? No, it doesn’t mat­ter, but it keeps the grey cells tick­ing over. Unless you just do tast­ing notes, then it doesn’t even do that.

  7. I have always felt blogs should be tak­en as a col­lec­tive, not piece­meal. Since we don’t make mon­ey doing this, our lit­tle nodes are far from com­pre­hen­sive. But blog­gers are indi­vid­ual and par­tic­u­lar: we are inter­est­ed in dif­fer­ent things. Col­lect the best dozen of them togeth­er and you have a bet­ter source of beer-relat­ed chat­ter than you’ll find any­where else.

  8. Good point, Jeff. I would add to that indi­vid­ual and par­tic­u­lar the idea of auton­o­my. We are free of each oth­er except for the mild dip­so­ma­nia and the mar­ket­place of ideas. So what if no one gets to vote and the agen­da is rather free form.

  9. I read this a few times before get­ting the oppor­tu­ni­ty to respond. First­ly, thanks for writ­ing some­thing pos­i­tive! ‘Blog­ger’ seems like a dirty word. It’s also great to read some com­ments echo­ing my own thoughts – of which there are too many to go into here.
    The com­mu­ni­ty is, by and large, my main source of inspi­ra­tion for blog­ging. as Tan­dle­man says, I’ve met some love­ly peo­ple, cre­ative peo­ple and (to say the least) pas­sion­ate peo­ple. Jeff’s com­ments also ring true for me about it being a col­lec­tive – both in sources of infor­ma­tion and enter­tain­ment.
    There’s too many points for me to list.…maybe I’ll put a post up. Maybe.

  10. I like your note on peo­ple enter­ing search cri­te­ria and find­ing blogs – putting aside the obtuse and unset­tling refer­rals that link peo­ple to my blog, a col­league at work said to me today that they didn’t know I wrote a blog (but, cru­cial­ly, knew my beer nick­name) and had searched a local pub and found my review.

    I was absolute­ly made up.

    Not only that, Google search­es have found me a good 15 blogs that I now fol­low, which has broad­ened my hori­zons and pro­vid­ed many a wry smile along the way. The rest of my “fol­lowed” blogs I got from click­ing on names on your com­ments.…

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