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.