Ten Inch Wheeler has upped sticks and moved to WordPress from Blogger. No, I'm not following him there. Seems too much like hard work, but it got me thinking as I amended his link in my list. I thought "Time I updated my links list."
I noted though as I looked at my list, that there are a lot of new bloggers around and some old ones (and they probably were the old ones) have dropped off the perch, so if you'd like to be on my links list and aren't already, just let me know and if I like the cut of your jib, I'll add you. I'll be getting rid of those that don't blog any more too, though it saddens me that so many of the older generation of bloggers (not as old as me probably) have turned up their toes, handed in their keyboards. It cuts down a lot of the range of opinions and attitudes in British blogging and that isn't good.
I was similarly struck by this note in his website about the Beer Blogger's Conference byMatt Eley who seems to be a pretty cool dude himself: I thought , it will be packed with the same rotund beer monsters you find at festivals up and down the land who have discovered another forum to push forward their views? Wrong, wrong, wrong! In fact I could not have been wider of the mark. Instead of either of the above scenarios I found myself in a room full of people so young and fashionable that it could have been a scene straight out of Hollyoaks.
Well really? Young and fashionable in beer blogging is clearly good it seems. Had everyone just stepped off the Hollyoaks set? Did Matt simply not notice the odd podgier or older person? Did he just ignore them, or more worryingly, were there none? Is the inference that social media is just for the young and trendy and by extension, the future of beer drinking and writing? Worrying thinking I'd venture. Referring back to my first paragraph, diversity in beer blogging has seemed to me for a while to be in decline - oh not at the more scholarly end of things, where Martyn Cornell and Ron Pattinson put in the graft - but in general beer blogging and that cannot be a good thing. Nor am I sure that I can fully agree with Matt's other observation that "despite the well documented struggles of the UK beer market the ‘next’ generation have their fingers at the ready to defend, promote, praise, hold to account – and indeed consume – our national drink"
In Diary of a Hop Head, another young thing says " What I saw on display was a group of clued up, modern and trendy people who are setting the industry standards.". Setting the industry standards? Perleeese.. So back to Matt. Is the future of British beer drinking in safe hands as he asserts? I don't doubt the "praise" bit, nor the "consuming" - though what is consumed needs to be examined quite closely . Does it follow that fashion, rather than the obvious inadequacies of a lot of British brewing, explains the gaderene rush to drink and promote exotic keg craft or bottled beer, often imported, in trendy bars or at home, by many younger bloggers? That can be glossed over no doubt, or denied, or explained away as generational, but what cannot be is the "holding to account" by many bloggers. It doesn't really happen, with an overt agenda of "cheery beery" and a very uncritical eye. (Only today Beer, Birra, Bier wrote "Generally I don't see the point in posting negative articles on this blog, I'm usually of the mind that if you don't have anything good to say then it's better to say nothing at all. ")
Since writing the above I have seen this by two Dutch attendees. Here's a flavour translated from the Dutch (by a translator package - not me. I personally don't go as far as the Dutch blog in directly relating benefits given, to generally uncritical coverage of beer. The reasons for that are far more complex, but you do need to keep a measure of distance and independence.
"Okay, okay, beer is more important in England than in the Netherlands, but these are all people who are not employed by breweries. Who would not let themselves be guided by excesses provided by a supplier and still remain objective?
Well, not really. They really let themselves be guided by such actions. Many bloggers in the UK admitted beer that they write only when they like something. If not, then they just shut their mouth. And shutting your mouth is exactly what not to do as a blogger. You find something, you have an opinion, you let us hear. Tell everyone what you think about everything around you. Is anything good? Shout it from the rooftops! Is something not good? Yell as loud. If you are afraid to lose all your free beer then do something else. Only if you're critical, your opinion is relevant."
It is clear that there is an increase in beer blogging in the UK, but are numbers alone enough to give both momentum and credibility? It seems to me that the number of comments on blogs is decreasing all the time, so clearly something odd is going on. Has Twitter largely marginalised UK blogging? Is it a broad enough church, or does it myopically concentrate at what is cool, sexy and exotic? Is blogging about beer in the UK at least, becoming a young man's (or woman's) game?Is it partisan and/or uncritical? Is the diversity still there? Is holding to account not part of the blogger's remit? Who does or doesn't blogging influence?
Is the future really assured? My jury is out, but at least I'm secure in the knowledge that we are all getting older (even the young and beautiful) and things will change. One way or another.
This piece took me ages to write and still isn't exactly as I'd like it. The aim is to spark off some thoughtful debate. Please comment in that spirit.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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