QUICK ONE: Overlooked

Here’s an interesting question, in the form of a Twitter poll, from @ThaBearded1 who works at Twisted Barrel, a brewery in Coventry:

He is no doubt going to write or do some­thing inter­est­ing him­self based on the respons­es so we won’t get too involved in the specifics of this par­tic­u­lar case but what he’s express­ing does seem to be a com­mon anx­i­ety: that the next city over, or Lon­don specif­i­cal­ly, is get­ting more than its share of atten­tion in the nation­al press or on promi­nent beer blogs.

We’ve writ­ten pieces relat­ing to this on a few occa­sions, most notably here where we said…

…if writ­ing about beer is Lon­don-cen­tric, and it might be a bit, it’s part­ly because Lon­don is both­er­ing to write about beer.

More recent­ly we sug­gest­ed that in 2017 what peo­ple mean specif­i­cal­ly when they make this kind of point is, ‘Wah! Why hasn’t Matt Cur­tis writ­ten about it/us/here!?

We say, once again, that if you think your region is over­looked, you should make the case. Write a blog post or ebook, or put togeth­er a Google Map, show­ing where a vis­i­tor to your region can find local beer, the beer-geeki­est bars and pubs, and give some sug­ges­tions for how they can get from one to anoth­er. Your tar­get audi­ence here is peo­ple on week­end breaks – why should they vis­it your city rather than, say, Sheffield, or Man­ches­ter, where there is so much inter­est­ing beer that it’s hard to know where to start? But also, by exten­sion, blog­gers and journos look­ing for advice on where to start.

But we’re not like those obnox­ious Londoners/Mancunians/Leodensians – we don’t like to shout about our­selves because we’re so hum­ble and unas­sum­ing,’ feels like a response we’ve heard sev­er­al times in this kind of con­ver­sa­tion, and that’s a bit… pathet­ic. It’s prob­a­bly bet­ter to boast than to grum­ble, and wait for some­one else to do the shout­ing for you.

And, of course, writ­ing crit­i­cal­ly is good too – it’s a sign of matu­ri­ty in a scene and can add cred­i­bil­i­ty to your guid­ance. If a vis­i­tor fol­lows your advice and ends up in pubs that are mere­ly ‘meh’, drink­ing bad beer, they’ll think less of your scene over­all.

We used to have a page here col­lect­ing links to town, city and region guides and pub crawls writ­ten by beer blog­gers, but had to scrap it because they weren’t being kept up to date and too few new ones were appear­ing. It would be nice to revive that, or at least to know that there’s a guide out there to Birm­ing­ham, Brighton, Bris­tol, or wher­ev­er, that we can point peo­ple to when they ask us, which they do from time to time.

Note: if you’re inter­est­ed here’s what we wrote about Birm­ing­ham and the Black Coun­try last sum­mer.

QUICK ONE: Hyped/Ignored

Beautiful beer glass.

There have been a few times in the last year or so where we’ve seen a beer referred to as ‘hyped’ when we’ve literally only heard it mentioned once or twice.

Then the oth­er day we saw some­one com­plain­ing that a beer they liked had been ‘ignored’ and some­thing seemed to click: is this all about a hand­ful of promi­nent voic­es on social media?

The per­son we imme­di­ate­ly thought of is Matt Cur­tis who has his own blog at Total Ales and also writes for Good Beer Hunt­ing among oth­er out­lets. He was the first per­son we noticed men­tion­ing Mills Brew­ing, for exam­ple, and lit­er­al­ly with­in an hour or so of him doing so we saw some­one com­plain that they were being hyped.

Two things both­er us about this.

First, what’s Matt meant to do? Taste every beer in the UK and give each brew­ery equal air­time? He likes some beer more than oth­er beer, some brew­eries more than oth­ers, and ought to be allowed to express a pref­er­ence.

Then there’s the abdi­ca­tion of respon­si­bil­i­ty. As we’ve said sev­er­al times now, don’t moan that no-one is blog­ging about a brew­ery you think is inter­est­ing – write about it your­self! If you don’t like how promi­nent a beer or brew­ery is, don’t con­tribute to that promi­nence by going on about it. And if you think a beer is being ignored, let peo­ple know about it.

Hype isn’t some­thing you have to endure – it’s some­thing you can cre­ate too.

Rating Sites, Hype & the Real Influencers

Good King Henry Special Reserve (bottle).

If you want to get your brand name on the radar don’t send samples to bloggers, send them to RateBeerians.

That’s the con­clu­sion we reached after research­ing this sto­ry on the weird promi­nence of Good King Hen­ry Spe­cial Reserve, the only British beer in the Rate­Beer top 50, for All About Beer:

The flur­ry of high rank­ings that fol­lowed that sum­mer gathering—most award­ing 18, 19 or 20 out of 20 and accom­pa­nied by pro­fuse thanks to ‘Chris_O’—put the beer into the Top 50 chart. That might have been a blip except those events brought it to the atten­tion of Edin­burgh beer lover Craig Garvie. He is an enthu­si­as­tic char­ac­ter often to be seen at beer fes­ti­val in a colour­ful bowler hat, steam­punk shades and with his beard dyed one shade or anoth­er. A par­tic­u­lar fan of strong stouts, he knew he had to get his hands on GKHSR.

We were prompt­ed to research and write that piece because we, despite pay­ing fair­ly close atten­tion to British beer, had nev­er heard of Old Chimney’s brew­ery or come across any of their beers on sale any­where, ever.

On a relat­ed note, we were pon­der­ing writ­ing some­thing longer in response to this Tweet…

…to which our ini­tial response was, yes, mar­ket­ing is impor­tant, but word-of-mouth about great beer is the best mar­ket­ing you can get.

But the GKHSR sto­ry demon­strates very clear­ly that you don’t need fan­cy graph­ic design, expen­sive adver­tis­ing or squads of PR peo­ple to make a splash.