The Evolution of Simply Beer, Reviews to Opinions to Experiences
I had a post today from James at beerepiphany.wordpress.com that got me thinking; now that I’ve passed two years writing about beer on Simply Beer, “how has my blog evolved”. Flash back to September 2008, I acquired the domain SimplyBeer.com and got right to work reviewing beers and writing about homebrewing. While the homebrewing part has not really changed much because it is much more empirical then reviews and it is what it is, the beer reviews quickly began to weigh heavily on me.
As I was reviewing beer, writing my reviews in a can structured format, and assigning a number grade to each beer, I was caught up in a couple dilemmas. My first dilemma, If I loved a style of beer that was getting lower marks then a style a didn’t like as much, but I would prefer to drink the lower scoring beer in the style I like better over the higher scoring beer in the less liked style. Why? I was following BJCP guidelines. That quickly came to an end and stop grading on the guidelines. Which brought me to my second conundrum, would I want people arbitrarily assigning grades to my beer? Further more, my aspirations in the beer world is to be a brewer, not a critic or journalist. At that point I stopped giving grades to beer and just gave my opinions.
That lasted for about a year, no grades, but my opinions were lacking something, personality and uniqueness. I am who I am, I’m not a gifted wordsmith and have a hard time assembling two sentences in a row that make sense. The canned opinions, while easy to read and informative, was not what I wanted to portray on SimplyBeer. So they were replaced with just my drinking experience. Sometimes my thoughts may have much to do with the beer, just that it is complementing my mood and is enjoyable.
So here we are today. I needed something new to regain my interest in writing, when my wife suggested we try to find her beer that she likes, we both though what a great concept to write about on Simply Beer. Now we have this great new series, 3 months 10 beers, when I’m charged to find my wife 10 beers that she can drink and enjoy.
As far as the reviews go now a days, I don’t open a beer to write a review. I write a review when the beer inspires me to write about it.
It’s like our grandmothers told us, “If you don’t have something positive to say, don’t say anything at all!”. This is now what I want Simply Beer to be a place of positive beer experiences.
I hear ya. Agreed!
I second that “I hear ya”! I’ve been asked a few times why I never give a negative opinion on anything I drink, but honestly, I think there’s an occasion or a set of tastes out there for EVERY beer. Even though some beers may blow me away more than others, I’ve never tasted a beer that truly tasted disgusting or off-putting. So I’d rather write about who might enjoy a beer, or in what situation, rather than knocking it for not being a favorite for my personal tastes.
Thanks for the shout out! As you can see from my blog, which hasn’t been updated in months, I quickly grew tired of producing pretty much the exact same post every other day just inserting a different beer.
My passion for craft beer didn’t die, but drinking beer quickly began to feel like work. I felt the need to chronicle each and every beer, fest, or news article in detail so I would have something to share with my readers. I blogged about each and every beer I drank.
You can tell the beers that were uninspiring. I created a “quick review” section for them. Why waste my time and my readers time by blogging or reviewing a beer that did nothing for me, and therefore gave me nothing to share with others.
Just because I wasn’t excited about the beer didnt mean that many others wouldn’t be excited by that beer…they probably were.
I even began to receive free craft beer in the mail from breweries to review. However, in the end, my own detail-exhaustive personality, led my beer blogging expereince to turn into work, and therefore, I haven’t blogged in nearly 6 months.
My point is (finally) that unique, creative, and fun blogs such as Simply Beer, Hoptopia, Beer Ein(stein), and many others are what make the beer community so much fun to be part of. They share the EXPERIENCE of being passionate about craft beer. I still subscribe via RSS to blogs that I never read because it’s “appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, overall” ad nauseam. The passion is there, but the presentation needs to evolve.
Your second to last paragraph pretty much sums up how the best beer writers are so successful.
Now instead of blogging I crack open a fresh craft brew and imbibe in the words of others equally passionate about our favorite drink.
Thanks Mike, Shenan, & James! I don’t want to give up my little blog, but at the same time I gotta do what I feel is right for me and if takes a week to put up another beer experience, then so be it! James, I hope you’ll feel inspired to take up the “pen” again and help spread the good word of craft beer, but in the meantime, I hope you keep reading all the great beer blogs out there!
Also, have you considered participating in the monthly “The Sessions”?
That looks pretty cool. thanks for the link, I’m going to check it out some more.
Great write-up, Peter. While I think our blog still focuses heavily on reviews (we’ve been writing less than a year), I think our overall focus will change too. We all evolve and make take things a new direction, which hardly is a bad thing. While we do give ratings to our reviews, we don’t review anything we dislike, and have been questioned by some readers as to why. My response is simply, I want Passion Beer to be a place where we display some awesome beers we really loved. Not something we hated and talk bad about. Those opinions stay off the site.
Keep doing what you’re doing!
Thanks Shane, I’ve enjoyed your reviews and you don’t just have beer reviews, which helps break it up too. I totally respect that you don’t post bad beer reviews – that way you didn’t review my Black Cherry Stout? 😉 LOL, just kidding.