Improving Your Beer Writing

Note: This was written live as the presentation was happening and posted as soon as it finished so I apologise for any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.

Simon Jenkins is a Yorkshire Evening Post columnist and was the 2010 British Guild of Beer Writers’ Beer Writer of the Year. Adrian Tierney-Jones is a journalist and writer and current winner of the British Guild of Beerwriter’s Award for National Journalism.

Adrian: You can write what you want, writing for yourself (no editor, publisher, etc. telling you what to write). Talk about what is around you, the people. Find out about the person behind the beer.

Simon: Writes about beer, one column a week, for the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper. Writes about beer, pubs and the people. When he writes he knows that someone else is going to review it before it's published, gives you a last filter before its sent.

A: Blogs and also writes as well, a couple of beers will often loosen the thought process to allow some really good thoughts to come out. Used to find that beer writing was a real tiny hobby such as 'lorry weekly' and is now much more mainstream than that!

Used to edit the Somerset CAMRA branch magazine, moved into catering magazines, what's brewing, etc. Need to ensure that beer blogging doesn't fall back into the Lorry Weekly days.

S: Saw someone in the pub reading his book which was a massive thrill. Make sure that it's doesn't become a self referencial group excluding outsiders who are not part of the beer circle. People mostly happen across your blog due to a google search most probably for a particular beer. Doesn't like the beer snobbery aspect that excludes certain large breweries from being included in 'good beer' discussions.

A: Try to say your message consisely, you can say the same thing in 500 words as you will in 1200 words. A good example of this is Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog.

S: Go by your own opinions, don't be swayed by others on what is a great beer.

Can beer bloggers learn anything from wine writers?

A: A lot of wine writing is about travel, and forensic tasting of wine. What about how does this beer relate to this place?

S: Any review blogs are going to help with how you can beer blog.

SophWrites: How much effort should we put into finding out who our followers are?

A: Doesn't know who his audience is, just writes what he wants to write.

S: Would love to know who is reading it!


DesDeMoor: Uses his blog to be able to write the longer pieces that he wants to write as often the newspaper/magazine articles are requesting short pieces rather than the more wordy pieces.

A: Fanzines were full of short articles, almost the precursor to blogging. Finds that writing for his blog is much more refreshing than doing the paid-for writing.

Nickiquote: How do you feel about our function to be positive-only?

S: Be yourself, negative is fine, go with what you feel. He considers himself lazy in this respect, he stays away from bad pubs in Leeds and therefore most of his comments are positive. Also pubs are having a hard time so he will generally accentuate the positive. He will be more critical of beers that he trying.

A: Will often leave certain pubs unreviewed as they are bad and he doesn't want to spend the time writing it, plus it will also probably get rejected by the newspaper for being too harsh.

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