Much like the Internet, craft beer was not too long ago the province mainly of nerds. The uneducated and unenlightened laughed at and scorned those of us whose beverage tastes changed as a result of discovering flavor. We grew a bit weary of being called “snobs” by our friends whenever we asked our servers for a beer list then declined to order a BudMillerCoors because, well, we just didn't feel like drinking something so bland.
And so the increasing popularity of, and demand for, craft beer has been a relief to us relatively early adopters who were beginning to feel like strangers in a strange land. But it comes with a downside, too. Popularity attracts douches, or those who like to glom onto whatever seems trendy and, armed with a wee bit of knowledge, set themselves up as “experts” and self-appointed guardians of cool. Douches foster a clique mentality and enjoy name-dropping and spouting off their Important Opinions to anyone unfortunate enough to be in their vicinity. You know the type.
You like craft beer? Great. There’s no need to be a douche about it. I firmly maintain that good beer is for everyone. It’s meant to be shared with family and friends (and even strangers), in good times and bad, as one of the true pleasures of life. People have different tastes and opinions on different breweries and styles of beer, and that’s perfectly fine. I may love bitter, unbalanced IPAs and you may love double chocolate coffee stouts. Or each of us may like both, depending on the weather, our moods, or day of the week. It’s all good. In fact, it’s more than good. It’s one of the true beauties of beer that there is a style to suit practically any taste or mood. What other beverage can say that, really?
So while I love the science, history, culture, social aspects, and, of course, the taste of beer, I don’t feel the need to proclaim myself an expert about any of it (I’m so not) nor to look down on anyone who doesn’t share my same tastes or opinions. After all, no matter how much any of us may love it, it’s still just beer. Lighten up, Francis.
It was a highly successful and respected local blogger who once told me that if I chose to start a beer blog, I should pick a niche and always remember that the blog is about the chosen subject, not me. I’ve endeavored to keep his advice in mind, which is one reason I opted to keep this blog focused mostly on local news and happenings. There are plenty of other blogs trying to cover everything going on in Michigan and, given that blogs are typically run on a part-time basis by one or two people with day jobs, the results are usually less than stellar. I didn’t see a good reason to try to emulate them. As it is, keeping up with all the beer doings just in Washtenaw County is pretty tough. But it seemed like a good and unfilled niche, so here I am.
On Beer Blogging
Ain’t gonna lie. This gig is about relationships, and I’ve spent quite a lot of time (and acquired quite a lot of liver damage) cultivating cordial ones with the many excellent people in our area and beyond who make, distribute, sell, and serve beer. In general, you won’t find a better class of human being. Anyway, from time to time, I’m offered discounts or freebies arising from these relationships. I consider this “normal business practice,” and while I don’t actively solicit these things, I don’t see any problem accepting them because of a few key factors:
- I’m not posing as an “objective journalist.” I’m just a dude with a blog. I don’t pretend to be “objective,” whatever that means; my main goal is simply to promote craft beer in general and the local beer scene in particular. Not because anyone pays me to do it (though if they did, I’d be happy with that), but because I’m a passionate believer in both.
- I’m not posing as a judge or critic. Yeah, I have opinions about this or that beer or brewery and if it seems appropriate, I’ll share them, particularly if you bump into me at the bar after I’ve had a few. But I’m not especially interested in doing formal beer reviews, preferring to leave that to people with far more knowledge and experience than me, of whom there are many.
- I’m not on the payroll. I write for a newspaper and various other print and online publications and while I do receive some financial remuneration, it’s not of the sort that constitutes a full-time living (yet, anyway). Much of what I do make comes from working on projects unrelated to beer. The upshot is that, as a freelancer, I’m not a salaried Joe. Consequently, I’m essentially my own man. An impoverished, overweight wreck of a man, but I’m all mine!
I mention all of this only so that if you have a problem reading the blog of a guy who occasionally gets a free beer or tickets to an event or something, I can make you feel guilty for begrudging a starving writer the few perks he gets out of providing an important public service. Shame on you!
Updated: March 2013