Showing posts with label bloggers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bloggers. Show all posts

Friday, April 6, 2012

Why I Blog


I have always enjoyed writing, and I hope it is something that I am not too shabby at. I make no claims to be anywhere near the standard of my favourite authors, Umberto Eco, Nick Hornby and Andrei Makine among them. However, in addition to my regular ramblings about beer on here, I occasionally write on another couple of blogs, one about whatever pops into my head and the other about philosophy and religion. Writing has always been part of my life, when I was a practising Christian I had about 30 poems published in various magazines and anthologies, as well as writing music reviews for Cross Rhythms magazine. I have written technical documentation, articles about real estate in Prague and sales proposals, I am even trying to write a novel, though that is going through a major mental revision at the moment.

It is just shy of four years ago that I wrote the first post on this blog. In that first post, I said that my posts could consist of:

"posting pictures and stories about beer, and most importantly the people that my journey brings me into contact with".


When I started blogging there were only two other beer bloggers that I knew of in Prague, Evan Rail and Max Bahnson. At first I read them, then met them and today I feel honoured to call both of them my friends. In various constellations we have shared many a beer, and to this day they are two of the people I miss most from Prague. Many a Saturday afternoon finds me wishing I could send either of them a text message and arrange to meet for a pint at Pivovarsky klub or Zly ?asy.


In November 2008 I realised a long standard ambition to visit Ireland. Mrs Velkyal had a friend that had married an Irishman, and so as we had a long weekend and it was close to my birthday we flew over. The Irishman was to become the author of The Tale of the Ale blog, and since then we have shared several beery adventures. One trip took in the delights of Prague, Brno and Southern Moravia, while more recently me met up in Paris to wander the streets and down many pints. During our initial trip to Ireland we went to Galway and found the most perfect pub on the planet. Sheridan's on the Docks, now sadly departed, had Budvar and Galway Hooker on tap, a peat fire and the rugby on the tv, it was simply idyllic. At the end of the trip Mrs V and I met with the eponymous Beer Nut and Barry, an Irishman writing about beer life in Germany having Bitten the Bullet.


Within weeks of moving to Charlottesville, we had met with one E.S. Delia, and his lovely wife to be, whose blog Relentless Thirst gave me plenty of insight before moving over. Eric had commented on Fuggled before we moved and invited us to his rooftop tasting. Meeting and getting to know Eric has been one of the highlights of life in Virginia.

I could wax lyrical about the people I have met, and friends I have made as a result of beer, but one story stands out. As you may know I work at the Starr Hill tasting room occasionally. Last year, I was there for my one day that month and my colleague asked me to come and chat with a customer, a fellow Brit. A couple of minutes later my colleague asked me where I thought the customer was from. Given the slight London/Estuary thing going on his voice, I assumed he was from the south-east corner. The customer's response was "I'm Scottish", and through a series of questions and stunned responses it transpired that we had both grown up in the Outer Hebrides, from adjacent islands and he had been 2 years ahead of me at school. We know a lot of the same people and happened to meet in the brewery on the one day of that month I was working. He is now my regular drinking buddy here.

That's what beer means to me, and by extension blogging about it. The people I have met. Beer people are good people, and this blog has opened many doors to meet them. That then is what drives me, writing not just for myself, but for the people I have met and hope one day to meet.

This month's Session is being hosted by the guys at Brewpublic and the theme is "what drives beer bloggers?".

Monday, June 7, 2010

How Did We Do?

Back on May 4th, Pete Brown of multiple beer books fame stirred the beer blogging pot by claiming things had started going stale and challenging bloggers to up their game for the rest of the month.

Just a quick look over my posts for May shows that the number of tasting note posts was at a minimum and during the month I also wrote a post which got the highest number of comments in 2010, it was the We Are Not Geeks! post, which accrued 18 comments, as well as the second most commented Fuggled post of the year in Revolutionary Tosh.

I enjoyed writing more thoughtful pieces than just doing a cyber brain dump of tasting notes, my home brew recipes and the occasional multi-media post when I just can't think of anything else to write. Another highlight for me was having John Keeling from Fuller's, and Dave Bailey of Hardknott taking part in my Brewer of the Week series

But having laid down the challenge, the question for Pete Brown now is quite simple - how did we rise to your challenge?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Give It A Rest!

Sat in a pub a couple of weeks ago, I overheard (bad habit I know, listening to other people's conversations) someone describe beer as "the new wine". Sat on the deck of a local brewpub yesterday, enjoying several very nice pints of mild (an American brewer making mild!!) and there is a chap also on the deck who sneers and pouts his way through a sampler flight as though he were some kind of authority on beer and nothing will ever satisfy his demanding palette.

These two incidents got me thinking about how easy it is at times to talk total shite and appear to know what you are talking about, but also that sometimes the beer gets lost in all the geekery, that the pure pleasure of drinking beer gets subsumed in the naming of the chemicals that create flavours, whether desired or not. One of the challenges I like to set myself when I am working the Starr Hill tasting room is to not geek out about the beer and talk about diacetyl, IBUs and the like. Unless I am asked about such things, I make the assumption that the person I am serving is less interested in the geek details of the beer, and more interested in what they taste.

This then raises the question, do we take the geekery too far? Does our geekiness put people off trying "craft" beer because we do such a poor imitation of regular human beings, lacking the need to pontificate about our supposed superior knowledge? In being "beer evangelists", do we become like the distasteful wings of any movement, where there is no allowance for experiences beyond our scope of what constitutes a valid beer experience (like enjoying a Michelob lager)? A slight aside perhaps, but the number of times I have seen the same look in the eye of the hophead chasing his next fix as the spiritual types that jump from religious experience to religious experience is quite telling.

Have we forgotten that at the end of the day, it is just beer. It is not the solution to world peace, although you could argue that getting everyone together in a pub to discuss how to move forward would be more effective than all the inter-governmental wafflings that pass for politics. It is not going to reverse global warming, it is not going to bring an end to the trafficking of drugs, animal parts or human beings, it is not going to ensure that every human being on the planet has access to education and health care, and it most certainly won't bring an end to sectarian strife in any part of world. After all, it is just beer.

I don't hold with the romantic notion that beer is the working man's drink, just as I don't hold with the notion that the politics of left and right are relevant anymore. Beer is the everyman drink, and as beer geeks, bloggers and writers surely it is our task, if you can call it a task, to relate to every man about the drink we love and want others to love?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Blog of the Year

Slowly we are getting to the end of my review of the year, only a couple more categories to go! This in some ways though is the one I have been looking forward to writing the most, because I get to give credit to some of the people who make my days infinitely more interesting with their writings.

Like so many of the categories I have done, it really it difficult to whittle it down to just three from which to pick a winner, however I did give myself a couple of criteria which were absolutely vital. Firstly, the majority of blog posts had to be actually about something rather than a few words about how many beers they drank or something equally vacuous. Secondly, the ability to continue the conversation in the comments section is important - I like being able to make a comment and have it responded to, after all, one of the points of web 2.0 isn't just to give every gobshite with a keyboard a mouthpiece, but rather to facilitate dialogue, and through that greater understanding of a topic.

Without further ado, the three best blogs in my world are:
I can't remember exactly when I came across Dave's blog, but from day one I have enjoyed the refreshingly open and honest perspective that Dave brings to his writing.  Whether posting on the trials of running a countryside Free House, tax issues relating to beer, or even why he invested in BrewDog, Dave brings a depth of passion and also willingness to have his views challenged by the wider beer blogging community.

E.S. Delia of Relentless Thirst fame doesn't write as often as some, but when he does it is always worth reading, often bringing subtle insights into the Virginia craft brewing scene as well as tips about beers to drink, and which good beers are actually available in this neck of the woods. Of the three bloggers on the list, E.S. Delia is the only one I have actually met, spoken with in person and had the pleasure of his company, in every way he is the stereotype of what a beer lover and blogger should be.

I am sure that most of us appreciate Ron Pattinson's fascinating historical perspectives on gravities and brewing ingredients, I know that I very much plan to make some of the homebrew versions of the beer recipes he has been posting of late. From deep within all the statistics, logs and numbers shines Ron's deep love and passion for beer, which is of course the driving force behind any good beer blogger.

Given that I have one UK based, one Europe based and one American based blogger on my list, it would be so easy to make each of them the winner in their respective geographical location, but that would be shifting the goal posts. So my Blog of the Year is:
  1. Dave's Beer Related Blog
Always challenging, always interesting and always worth thinking over and ruminating on, Dave's blog is the one I always go to the moment it is updated.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beer Bloggers Picnic

Saturday evening was spent in the presence of fellow bloggers Evan and Pivní Filosof as well as Boak and Bailey, who were over from London on a tour of Germany and the Czech Republic. Being good hosts, we hope, we arranged to meet up and introduce our visitors to some of our favourite pubs in the city, starting with Pivovarsky klub, where the highlight for me was the very nice Granát from Pivovar Pardubice. After a while we walked up into ?i?kov to drop into the very recently opened U Slovanské Lipy, Prague’s first pub selling beer from Pivovar Kout na ?umavě.

U Slovanské Lipy is very unlikely to win any style awards, and is definitely not the kind of place for those ex-pats for whom trips to the Potrefena Husa in Prague 3 is living dangerously. Sitting down at a table I was taken back to pubs in Southern Bohemia, where a previous girlfriend came from – a proper Czech pub, with great Czech beer, what more could anyone ask for? Well to start with we asked for a round of their desítka, 10° golden lager, and what a grand beer it is, putting to bed the idea that desítka is a weaker version of a brewery’s flagship dvanáctka, that’s 12° to non-Czech speakers.

Following hot of the heels of our drained glasses was the 14° dark lager, quite easily the best lager I have had in a very long time, whether light or dark, regardless of strength, this was just simply magnificent – worth the walk up the hill just in itself. Having made the required ohs and ahs about the dark, we progressed on to the 12° kvasnícové, also a very good beer and just too easy to drink – what lucky people they are in ?umava, not only do they live in a beautiful part of the world, but they have a great local brewer to enjoy. Last up was a round of small glasses of the 18° Baltic Porter. Again it was a nice beer, brimming with flavour, however for me it just didn’t reach the heights of the dark lager. If we didn’t have plans to visit Zly ?asy, I could happily have stayed and nursed several more pints of the dark goodness.

Zly ?asy provided with one of the most unexpected experiences of my beer drinking life, a Klá?ter worth drinking, in this case the 12°. I am a convert? We’ll see. Unforeseen circumstances, involving forgotten keys, meant that I had to call it an early night at around half ten. There are few more pleasurable nights to be had than sitting around drinking superb beers with good company, which without exception has been my experience of all the people I have met through this blog so far, and I am very much looking forward to the bottle of Gose which Boak and Bailey brought over from Leipzig.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

I have to admit that there really are not that many things that I miss as a result of this pandemic. I am sure that comes as something of a ...

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