Session 86: Beer journalism

The question(s) in today’s session:
What role do beer writers play in the culture and growth of craft beer? Are we advocates, critics, or storytellers? What stories are not getting told and what ones would you like to never hear about again? What’s your beer media diet? i.e. what publications/blogs/sites do you read to learn about industry? Are all beer journalists subhumans? Is beer journalism a tepid affair and/or a moribund endeavor? And if so, what can be done about it?

My answer:
I am not a journalist, so I suppose I’m a fanboy or at most a storyteller. In my defense, I live in Bolivia, which probably hosts less than 20 “craft/micro/interesting” breweries, and there’s almost no one writing about them other than the occasional news story in a local newspaper (nothing wrong with that!).

But, much more than that, I write about beer because it’s a topic about which I feel I have some minute level of agency and can contribute something actual to building culture. Beer and its meaning is not static, but cultural, able to be shaped by the discourse surrounding it.

So, even if it’s only 40-something people scattered across the globe who give half a hoot about what I write here, I’ve nonetheless contributed something to the greater discourse about it. And THAT is satisfying: to know that I’ve contributed to something greater than myself in a tangible way.

Which perhaps explains the tendency towards adulation against true criticism. But then, the pond I swim in is mighty small, and truth be told, it’d be pretty disingenuous of me here to go around crapping on what little diversification there is. The day that “craft/micro/interesting” makes up around 7% market share in Bolivia, this conversation certainly ought to shift to something more critical and analytical.

For now, it might as well be northern California in the late 80s or so! (At least insofar as the nostalgic feel of the prevailing narrative makes it sound like.)

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