Saturday, 6 June 2009

Hero’s outside the mash tun: Beer writers.

As many people who know me well know that I am a collector of head brewers autographs. As an almost side project to this I also try collect autographs off beer writers which I know well and respect (excludes certain pretend celebrity brewer beer writers and beer writers who seem to only go on about market shift). In short beer writers are orators of the brewing art. Over the years I have read through a decent quantity of beer and brewing literature and over time have realized just how important beer writers are for craft brewing and how craft brewing itself brought upon the birth of beer writing. In recent times we have witnessed the almost rebirth of beer being taken seriously. Funnily enough I have never heard beer writers write anything about the splendors of being able to neck more pints of Stella on a night out than you’re mates (to assert ones masculinity) before ordering a kebab, getting into fight in the kebab shop, getting arrested, then perhaps finishing the evening throwing up in the cell. But things have moved on sice those bleak days of the 1970’s.

An interesting thing I got told a little while ago was that I myself could join the British Guild of Beer writers and therefore become (in theory) an official beer writer. All I have to do is write to a beer writer called Adrian Tierney-Jones (author of The Big Book Of Beer, and others) and (I assume) send him some of my work. Then if I’m good enough I might get an official beer writer badge, and pen. But I don’t know.

Since I first started reading about beer I have noticed the slight differences in styles between writers and in some cases subject matters. Some like to tie in the subjects of sport, history and culture others are more interested in the industry in general. Some (like Roger Protz) are firmly traditional whereas others opt to draw attention to the newer wave of innovative brewers that use attention grabbing marketing and beers completely out of the ordinary. You may be surprised to hear that a good number of wine writers are also beer writers and sometimes cider writers.

Also noticeable is slight differences in tastes between writers. Those familiar with the work of the late M. Jackson beer hunter will be aware of his fondness for beers on the slightly more extreme side. Others prefer stouts and porters slightly more whereas some are more dazzled by beers where flavors developed through fermentation take dominance such as various Belgian brews, Barley wine or German wheat beers.

I myself have tried to study my own tastes and have realized that my tastes in food show good relation to my beer preferences. For example I do eat a fair bit of milk chocolate, and I am a big fan of dark mild’s, stouts and beers that have deep chocolaty malt depth. I also (admittedly) have a soft spot for coriander spiced beers and also love Indian food. So if your not very experienced with beer you could also try this. Find something you already like it could be (for example) cherry, strawberries, tai curry, champagne, cigars or honey. Then you have a starting point for finding the right beer for you.

But with beer writing writers want to admire the diversity of all beer styles therefore beer writers try not to show too much favoritism to any specific style or beer, although some have admitted to being partially inclined towards a specific style. To become a beer writer myself seems a little daunting as I consider myself pretty amateur compared to the folks mentioned here. My favorite all time beer writer would have to be the late Michael Jackson Beer Hunter, the grandfather of beer writing. At the moment I am also very fond of Jeff Evans, Melissa Cole and a few others.


Ed said...

Go for it Rob, your beer writings are up there with the pros!

Ian Beer said...

I agree with Ed that you can be as good as them Rob,
Ian Beer