Category Archives: Going meta

Posts about posts (my own; for collections of and reactions to other peoples’ work, see the Mediawatch section), and my beer writing-and-rambling career (such as it is)

An acceptance speech — and a welcome

Brewers' Guild Beer Awards 2012: Beer Writer of the Year
My surprising piece of new silverware

This is always a great time of year to be a beer geek. Beervana and its satellite events are like Woodstock meets Comic-Con meets some kind of secular-and-sudsy pilgrimage. But my week, hectic and exhausting as it undoubtedly was, took a turn for the surreal on Thursday night when I was sitting down at the Brewers’ Guild Awards dinner.

Formal proceedings of any kind aren’t usually My Thing — I don’t own a tie, any kind of proper grown-up clothes, or even a pair of shoes that aren’t my scuffed-and-trusty work boots. But I’ll make an exception for the weddings of friends, and for this. Beer People are My People, and Te Radar (our genuinely-excellent host) was right when he applauded the very real enthusiasm with which the whole room congratulated the individual who got the gong in each category.1 On its best days — which are mercifully in the majority — the craft beer community exemplifies that “rising tide lifts all boats” spirit, and the awards night demonstrated that.

Brewers Guild Awards 2012: Flavoured and Mucked-about-with
Garage Project’s trophy for ‘Dark Arts’ — and our newest-and-smallest piece of brewing equipment

Earlier in the year, the Brewers’ Guild had announced that they were adding a Beer Writer of the Year award to the lineup, and — on the suggestion of a few flatteringly-insistent people — I’d thrown my name in that proverbial hat. Halfway through the evening, my new colleagues at the Garage Project won an award, in what my unreliable memory has come to call the Flavoured And Mucked-About With category for ‘Dark Arts’ (a rather-lovely coffee bock, if I do say so), and I was admiring the surprisingly-functional trophy when James (from the Crafty Pint) began his spiel, quite-rightly praising the work of Alice Galletly (of the marathon and marvellous Beer for a Year blog) and Michael Donaldson (of the Sunday Star-Times, and author of the new Beer Nation book).

Then he mentioned that the possibly-somewhat-left-field winner’s work had entertained him with tales of Kegtris2 and I had a head-spinning realisation and much-appreciated few-moments’ notice before he read my name out. In something of daze, I recall making a few thanks on the night — there are photos of me, and I look like I’m rambling something appropriate, at least — but I’ll take the chance to repeat myself / elaborate:

Brewers Guild Awards 2012: My ramble
Trying to thank all those who needed to be thanked

We punch way above our weight, here in the Little Country. Our craft beer is better than it should be, and so are the things that surround it; the bars, the design work, and the writing. We’ve got a fantastic little-but-growing community of people who give a damn and comment on the scene in various ways. Geoff Griggs, Neil Miller, Kieran Haslett-Moore, Michael Donaldson and a growing collection of bloggers all keep me entertained and informed on a regular basis — and I want to give particular mention to Alice Galletly for her tremendously inspiring project and to Jed Soane for his fantastic photography and his work documenting all aspects of the beer industry; both of them encouraged me to always try to lift my game and always reminded me of the fun of this rather-weird hobby of ours. I desperately wanted to say that it was an “honour just to be nominated” in their company, but the awards were such that they required us to nominate ourselves, which was itself an indescribably weird experience.

Standing in a room full of them, I also wanted to thank all the brewers — whether I liked their beers, or not. Plenty of the latter were in attendance, but it would be quite-literally impossible to write about beer if no one was making it, and I’m well aware that there’s plenty of hard work in each day at a brewery even if things go awry somehow with the end product or if the marketing department go and do something stupid so as to fire up my twitchy rage gland. Special mention must absolutely go to Epic’s Luke Nicholas, Liberty’s Joseph Wood and Yeastie Boys’ Stu McKinlay; three who were particular sources of encouragement (and of web traffic) from the early days.

Then finally: not-habitual-enough thanks are owed to my family and friends; especially George — my podcast partner in crime (and producer extraordinaire), the purchaser of the original Beer Diary itself, and my friend since before I can properly remember3 — and the marvellously-distracting Emma — a spotter of many typos, and tutor in better camera technique, in addition to being a brilliant accomplice in many day off and holiday beers. Taking home that trophy was a genuinely surreal and appreciated moment; I’ll do my best to live up to it, as it looms and leers at me from my bookcase.

And welcome along, new readers! Grab a beer,4 have a flip through the back catalogue and dip into the podcast if you like. I’m sure it’ll take me a while to catch up — it always does —with Beervana, its related events and their beers.5 But there’s always something deliriously good, or grumble-inducingly bad, going on in this business; I’ve never struggled for material despite occasionally fighting to find time.

1: Especially when it was Liberty’s Joseph Wood, collecting a hugely-deserved trophy in the US Ale Styles category for Yakima Monster. He damn-near got a standing ovation, in a hotly-contested class, and accepted his award in his own style: having just swallowed a spoonful of murderous hot sauce.
2: A word I use a lot — and possibly even coined, such is my fondness for the activity itself.
3: Which might not sound like much, coming from me. But you get the idea.
4: Or a cup of tea, or whatever. I don’t only write this thing with a beer at hand, and though many are recommended, none are mandatory.
5: Not that there are terrifically many, when you’re working during these things, it turns out.

Overdue Housekeeping

Catching up on a backlog of scrap-paper 'Diary' entries
One of many catch-up sessions...

It’s been an absurdly long time since I last posted, and for several reasons — ranging widely from the rather-lovely to the tooth-pullingly-annoying. Time, certainly, for a bit of a catch-up (in the Hello-Again / Long Time No See sense) before the proper catch-up can start to happen in the other sense.

I’ve had a bit of rethink, also, about the peculiar post-dating regime that I’ve used here since I started — where the date of the actual pen-and-paper Diary entry would be used for the date of the blog post, no matter when it was actually / eventually uploaded. That plan was born out of my primary thought that the Beer Diary webthing would be an handy online version of the physical document. But I’ve often wanted to write more ‘topical’ stuff — and frequently resorted to shoe-horning it into the discussion of whatever-was-next in the book1 — and then the podcasts came along as well and things just got unwieldy and strange and headachy. The sampling-writing-posting calendar mismatches were a common source of puzzled questions, and on one memorable occasion caused the surreal situation where some geniunely-lovely praise was accompanied by a charmingly-outraged ‘How on Earth haven’t we seen this before? He’s been blogging for seven years!’, when I’d only been going a few months.

Another catch-up session for 'Diary' entries stuck on coasters
Another catch-up session...

So nice timing, really; with the podcasts in-between seasons2 and a lack of activity for a while, I can change gears and change the plan. Posts will just get whatever date they get when I with the Big Blue Publish Button, and historical Diary entries that get uploaded — and I do plan to keep going through them, steadily — will just be labelled obviously-enough. As one last fit of oddness (of that kind, others will remain), I’m going to arbitrarily give this post the time-travelling date3 of my birthday last year so that it stands out in the Archive like the gear-change it is, and since the Diary has its origins as a particuarly-awesome present.

I’ve been distracted of late, but keeping this blog has been a massively rewarding experience and I’m delighted to feel a bit of momentum behind getting back into it. I recently left my long-running job at the Malthouse, and have had a bit of time to figure out What’s Next. (Embarrassingly-much of which was taken up by ‘Do I really want to revise the post-dating scheme on my website?’; I’m a chronic over-thinker.) Securing more time to write is key, and I’m also lucky enough with the timing that I get to go to The Great Australasian Beer Spectapular in Melbourne next weekend which will doubtless give me yet more of a prod and plenty to ramble about. So yes: Hello again. Nice to see you after so long.

1: Or, on one or two occasions, actually choosing which beer to drink and diarise based largely on its ability to furnish an excuse to write about something in particular.
2: I do have two episodes ‘in the bank’, as it were, and will endeavour to get them up before I go away for the weekend — not least because the theme of ‘s02e02’ is also my destination: Australia.
3: I’m actually writing this in the small hours of Monday, 7 May 2012. While drinking tea and listening to The Three EPs by The Beta Band, since you ask.


Archive Compendium #2

Still no scanner access at the moment, so another opportunity to hack away at the necessary back-filling of the Archives. This is the second half of the set of beers from the Unfortunate Patch of Missing Photos — some re-discovered in the ‘Beer Nerd Diaries’ album I used to maintain on Facebook, some lost and gone forever.

Archive Compendium #1

The original plan, back in October 2010, was to conduct a complete Great Uploading of Diary I before starting in with the new notes. I’ve done data entry as a job before, in both total-monkeywork and relatively-highbrow modes, so I figured I’d fly through it. But once word got out that I was finally uploading any of these things, people started asking about more-recent stuff and chipping away at Diary entries from years ago got backburnered.

It’s time to continue the back-filling, but it occurred to me that anything slotted in that far back1 would never appear on the front page or the Recent Posts list, so I’ll do little Compendia like this once I’ve uploaded a batch — just for the sake of those of the pathologically curious / stamp-collecty / completist mindset. Like — you know — me.

These entries are all also united (together with what will be a second set of similar size) by an unfortunate gap in my big archive of original photos. A lot of those gaps are filled by lower-resolution copies that were in my ‘Beer Nerd Diaries’ albums on Facebook, but a few were lost completely in a computer failure. Sadface.

1: Indeed, this post itself is being back-dated (as evidenced by the otherwise-anachronistic Sevens reference above) so that it doesn’t park itself for too long at the top of the main page, since I’m also a few weeks behind on Diary II. All this time-travelling postage does make a certain sort of sense, I think, but if I ponder it too long, I get a Philosophy Headache. I therefore just plow on, assuming that I have some sort of Actual Plan buried in the background of my brain.

Hello world!

Ah, Hello World. What a fine tradition you are.

Notwithstanding the time-travelling posts that appear before this one, I felt I should leave this mostly-default post in place, as a token of when the Beer Diary blogthing actually started. As I say in the About whatsit, copies of actual diary entries (wherever they were originally made, though usually in the notebooky diaries themselves) appear on here under their original creation dates.

But this should stand as a monument to t0, as it were.