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Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/24/16

There are days when the beer news is a desert of silly fluff pieces and “this is the world of craft beer” stupidity.  Today is one of those days.  Currently, my car sits at the bottom of my driveway.  I came home last night and was only able to get the back end off the road.  The roads all the way to my house from work were clear, but my driveway was/is a sheet of ice.  At some point, I have to get out to go to the grocery store. The sun is out so things will start melting soon.  Anyway, here are five beer articles to read. These are the most interesting of a bad lot and I am full of the necessary sarcasm and snark.

A Quick Update

I know a couple of weeks ago I said changes were coming to the amount and types of posts I will be doing going forward.  Those changes are coming.  It’s just taken longer to implement than I had thought at the time.  Partly, that is because I want to do this right and I’m planning out a lot of what will happen in the first couple of months of the year. It is also partly because there is only so much time in the day and other things have to be taken care of.

I can say, next week expect two new review posts. If all goes well, they will be two side by side posts comparing a beer to its barrel aged partner.  There will also be a special post coming on Christmas Day.  This is the one I’ve been working on for over a week.  It is a refocusing document.

Part of what I’ve been doing the last few weeks is trying to remember why I write and why I write about beer.  I think this document is a good touchstone and guide going forward through the next year and beyond.

Rhythm and Consistency

One of the things I love about blogging is that it is not only a look into my loves and obsessions it also occasions me the opportunity to let people inside who I am.  In that spirit here is my first blog post in almost a month.

If you follow this space regularly (and with my recent publishing schedule, why would you), you know I haven’t posted in almost a month.  First, I was waylaid by a bad cold.  Then holidays started with Thanksgiving, and blah, blah, blah.

Those are excuses.  I haven’t written because I haven’t written.  The reason I haven’t is because with all things being equal, I will default to laying on the couch.

To combat this, I try to do two things regularly: meditate and write.  When I ignore one of those things (which I have done with my meditation practice) this is what happens.  I lose my life’s rhythm and consistency.  Not to bore you, but to get back to where I want to be and where I want my life to be, I will be making some personal changes to get meditation back in my life every day.

If I effect the things I can effect, everything like publishing every day will work itself out in the end.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 9/16/15

I took time off yesterday. It was my birthday.  Unlike previous birthdays for like the last 10 years, there wasn’t a lot of existential navel-gazing. For the first time in a very long time, I am content where I am in life.  So, it was spent figuring out how to restructure my day to get all my writing and work done.  Anyway, here are the Five Articles.

The Close of The First Act

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. — Winston Churchill

This is not my favorite Churchill quote. That would be: “I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.” It is the one I use the most.  It does the most to explain what has happened in the last few weeks of my life.

A year ago, I decided to leave the job I had.  I was at a crossroads in that job. I was at 5 years of service.  I faced a decision.  Either stay for another 25 years and retire or live a life that would make me content.  I choose contentment and not relative safety and security.

I may have written it before, but I started exploring Zen and meditation around the same time. Last summer, I found a website called Zen Habits and I read this particular post.  I’m not a person who looks at singular moments and says, “This changed my life.”  This blog post changed my life.

I’m not going to go into the details, but I suggest you read the post and do what I did.  I spent at least a month going through the list and then another month thinking about what it all meant.  I discovered that I had two passions, sports (specifically soccer) and beer.  Then, I laid out a perfect day for myself.  That day more than suggested, that my perfect job would be freelance writer.  So, I figured out a way to create a life centered around writing about beer.  The first step was to find a job that would allow me to do that.

Late September last year, I go to GABF and on that Friday I had down time and continued my job search.  I found the job for Craft Growler Shop and Tasting Room on Craigslist.  It as yet didn’t exist.  Even now I don’t know if I should have gotten the job.  By the time I went back to Lowes after a week away, I had another job.  It is 11 months later and I am forever grateful that Dan Davis, the owner, has trusted me enough to name me manager.

Then a few months ago another opportunity popped into my life.  This one courtesy of Daniel Hartis (one of the best beer writers and advocates for NC beer).  He had been approached by Jason and Kerrie Boys to write for their new magazine, Gravity.  Because of a changing job status for Daniel he had to decline.  He did point Jason and Kerrie in my direction from reading my beercounselor.net work.  Again, cut to today and I have a column in the premiere issue of the magazine and I’m working on my second.

I wrote all those words to explain that with my new position, I get a new schedule which will allow two things.  I now will close all week which means I now have my morning open to write and read about beer.  That will mean more posts and finally studying for the Cicerone exam.  It will also mean I have Sundays off to watch football and drink beer.

Anyway, the Five Articles will post more consistently.  It will also mean, I am going to change the reviews a little. I may do more week long tastings comparing different beers in the same style.  It definitely means, along with any reviews there will be a history of the style of beer being reviewed.  The goal will be to lay out the history and the style expectations of the beer I will be tasting.  Then see how it matches up in the way a judge would in competition.

There will be other life changes that these new occurrences will spawn.  Those will become evident as the year continues and I will keep everyone posted.  I just wanted to let everyone know that the second act of whatever this is, is about to begin.

This Time I Have Something That Resembles A Plan

Part of it was self-imposed and part of it was a distinct lack of sleep (I do have a day job), but I have taken over a week off from the blog.  I feel bad not writing, but I used the time to asses and refine my goal for this space.

I have two primary goals with the changes I want to make.  The first is to post a new review or other piece at least five days a week (I may never sleep).  The second goal is to try to do something to enliven the beer review.

First, the Five Articles will be written every day, seven days a week.  I want it to set the agenda for the day and get out a few quick hit thoughts.  I just like reading about different aspects of the craft beer world.  I do read every article that I link to plus at least another five that I don’t link.  Reading all this stuff educates me and helps mold the perspective I want to achieve on the website.

Second, I want to write more Beer Counselor pieces.  Maybe change the name or do more then one type of column/blog pieces.  I have thoughts on how I see the beer business from the perspective of someone who works in the retail portion of the business (and by business I mean the industry) and not for a brewer or as a distributor.  I want to put those thoughts out there for agreement and derision.  Not only do I want to write more of these pieces I want to have fun with it.  I don’t want a set structure.  I want to experiment and take chances with what shows up in this part of the site.

Finally and maybe most importantly, I want to concentrate more on the reviews.  I want to try and figure out a way to do them differently. I want to do reviews in a way that entertains me and is slightly different than anyone else’s perspective.  I am trying to make it more narrative in structure.  I have a couple of other ideas I will work into the reviews beginning next week.

Actual reviews of the beer are not hard to write.  If you have any tasting experience and ability to express what you taste in complete sentences, you can write a review.  In fact, the actual review of a beer should not take up more than 200 words.  How it looks, smells, and tastes is not that difficult to describe.  The best reviewers and reviews give you more than that.  They tell a story or evoke a place or time in your mind.  I want to write reviews that have a narrative structure and a little added value (I am going to hold off on letting you know what my planned added value is until the first review of next week).  These first reviews will be rough as I circle around what I’m trying to get at in the writing.

Here is the new plan:

  • The Five Articles – Every Day
  • Beer Counselor (or some other bloggy piece) – 2 or 3 times a week
  • Beer Reviews – 3 or 4 times a week

That means you will be getting at least 500 words of new content a day (just what the internet needs more noise) 5 days a week not counting the Five Articles.  The more I think about it, the less sleep I see in my future.

A New Adventure

If you have followed me on the cueball and eightball blog, you know I’ve started a new thing called the Beer Counselor.  I give advice and write about beer, specifically craft beer.  I’ve decided to spin that off into its own site in order to make it more robust and interesting.  The first real post for his site will be up in a week. Until then, good drinking