Friday, December 5, 2014

My Role in The Beer Scene as a Beer Blogger

Earlier this week I discussed a bit about how my relationship with beer has been affected by blogging. Today, I'm going to take the topic a little bit further and focus on where I see my blog fitting within the greater world of beer.

Baltimore Bistros & Beer didn't initially start off with a heavy focus on beer. I knew I wanted to work in that direction over time, but I wasn't quite sure how I should position myself as beer blogger. When I did start writing about beer I decided I wanted to use this space as a way to learn more about what was going on locally. If there was something going on with beer around Baltimore, I wanted to talk about it here. That was the only role I was looking for initially, mainly because it felt manageable.

But like most beer drinkers I drink a lot more than just local beer and found myself wanting to talk about beer made both far and wide. Opening my blog up like that led to me looking at not just beer the drink, but beer the industry and I started noticing a lot of things that grated on my nerves. And I wrote about those topics. I didn't want to be a cheerleader blogger, the kind that only says nice things so they can get retweets from the breweries they're glowing about. I wanted to use my voice to say "Hey, I see a problem. Let's fix that". I felt good about doing that and I thought that was going to be my role in beer as blogger going forward.

But you know what? That role wore me down. I started to see myself becoming very cynical about the beer scene and noticed that my eagerness to run to the keyboard to write was happening less and less. It even got to the point where I wondered if I should even blog about beer anymore. Why focus on something that annoys me to much?

The reason I continued writing about beer was the same reason that got me started. I really do love beer. I love talking, thinking, and drinking beer. Most of all, I appreciate the relationships beer and this blog has fostered over the past 2+ years. So where does that leave my role in blogging now and moving forward?

This blog exists for me. Blogs are meant to be personal. You can talk about other subjects, but if you're not exposing a little of your soul while you're writing then I don't want to read that. I'm not writing to better beer. I'm not writing to call out breweries for throwing candy into casks. I don't care about the incorrect labeling of beer styles. I want to talk about me, the beer, and the fun I've had drinking it along the way.

This post was put together for The Session. A once a month gathering of beer bloggers across the world discussing a common theme. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Beer Blogging and My Relationship With Beer

Over the past few months when I haven't been blogging about beer, I have been thinking about blogging and beer. Specifically, I've been contemplating how the former affects my relationship with the latter. Is my relationship with beer better, worse, perhaps even unchanged now that I've been writing about lagers and ales these many months now? That's the question I've been toiling with. As with most questions, I've been looking for one easy to understand answer. And as with most questions (any question worth asking that is) I can only conclude multiple answers.

Blogging about beer has augmented my relationship with beer because how could it not? How could you not come to a better understanding of what beer is and what it means to you when you're spending most of your free time consumed by that very subject. And I don't simply mean that I can sniff out hops or taste different features of malt when I'm drinking a beer. That stuff is cool, but it's something I would have come around to learn with or without a blog. What I'm talking about is that mystical element of beer nobody can quite put their thumb on. At the most basic level beer is just a drink. But beyond the base I find a drink that eases my soul and takes me to places in my mind I might not have otherwise visited had it not been for the time I set aside to slow down, sip a beer, and breath in the world. And were I not a blogger looking to log my beery experiences for all the world to see, many of those introspective moments might have been lost forever

But blogging about beer has affected my relationship with beer in ways that aren't as positive. In fact, you might say blogging has ruffled my relationship with beer. There are a lot of things about this community that I find to be flat out irritating. Hive mind on the internet has nothing on certain niches of the craft community. If you don't hate what they hate or love what they love prepare to be berated. And details, you better know them all or you don't really love beer. Oh, you think you're into craft beer? Not if you can't walk into a courtroom and argue BJCP Guidelines with the same authority a lawyer argues tax law. These aren't the type of people I typically meet face to face, but if you've spent any amount of time reading about beer on the internet, as a blogger tends to do, it's easy to start questioning what type of scene you're actually apart of. With all of that in mind, I've decided to take what I see as a negative and go the opposite direction when it comes to the words I put out in the ether. The last thing I want is to serve as a source of annoyance for fans of craft beer and so you can expect my writing to shift towards the things I love about beer and less of me focusing on the little irritants that can wear me down by letting myself be overwhelmed.

On the whole, blogging has helped focus my relationship beer. When I got into this thing I inundated myself with as much information as possible. At one point I was checking somewhere between 20-30 websites a day hoping to pick up any new information I could about what was going on in the beer world. And it worked. I learned things about beer past, present and future and really got a feel for the nuts and bolts of the industry and the hops and malt of beer. Simply put, I became better informed and that was always the goal. But I also grew to appreciate the saying "ignorance is bliss" after questionable business practices within the industry started affecting how I thought about breweries and whether or not I could support them in the future. To put it in terms of a baseball fan, I couldn't go to the ballpark and enjoy the simple delights of witnessing a homerun because I was too worried about whether or not the players salary was reasonable. I got away from the game that I loved. But now, thanks to blogging, I know exactly which facets of the beer world I love and want to spend my time with. You won't find me lost in the the numbers and details of the craft beer industry anymore. Look for me in a bar hovering on a laugh shared between two friends over a beer.

This post is part of multiple essays from Mid-Atlantic beer bloggers focusing on how we feel blogging has impacted our relationship with beer. Make sure to check out these posts, too: