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Blogging and writing opinion

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 replies on “Do beer blogs matter at all?”

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

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.

“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’.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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