— Brew York (@brew_york) February 6, 2016
I’m a lucky guy.
On Nov. 3, 2011, I launched this blog. I honestly don’t remember why I thought people would care that I took the leap. I just wanted to use the space as a way to share my thoughts on beers I liked. The first year is littered with pointless posts sharing tasting notes with an occasional travel log thrown in.
Then, perhaps fittingly at the “milestone” of my 100th post, I slowly started to branch out. I wasn’t just writing reviews that anyone could find on Beer Advocate or RateBeer. I was trying to share partially formed thoughts on events, homebrewing and participated in The Session, a monthly collaborative blogging effort bringing people together from all over the world to write about industry topics.
Maybe I thought I was supposed to write for others, or at least offer what others might have wanted to read. There was a small circle of people I read and an even smaller circle that read me.
But here I am, closing in on five years writing This Is Why I’m Drunk, and I *think* I’ve started to find my voice as I publish this, my 500th post. There was a lot experimentation, a lot failure and a lot of hours spent banging away at a keyboard.
Because of this blog, I’ve twice been recognized by the North American Guild of Beer Writers. Because of this blog, the folks at All About Beer have trusted me with pages in their magazine and on their website.
Somehow people found me. Somehow I found myself. Here we are. Lucky us.
Five years and 500 posts is nothing compared to some of my favorite writers. Jeff Alworth, ever a fountain of knowledge, just celebrated the 10th anniversary of his blog, Beervana. I hope I’ll have a fraction of his knowledge once I double my current pace.
So how the hell did I do this? Hard work. Lots of it.
I wanted to share some abbreviated thoughts on what it’s taken me to get to 500 posts and maybe – just maybe – started to make a name for myself with this whole beer writing thing.
Don’t Watch the Clock
I spend a lot of time writing. I spend even more researching. They go hand-in-hand and should never be overlooked.
On average, I’d guess I spend at least 20 hours a week doing something related to beer and/or writing, and that doesn’t count the time pouring brews into my pint glass. I read, I search through daily email newsletters, I scribble notes, I talk to people, I write. Repeat.
Whether you’re a fellow writer, beer enthusiast or both, just assume you’re never spending enough time doing what you’re doing. I suppose it’s one of those “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” kind of things. I have a normal 9-5 job, but I find time. You should, too. Because…
Never Stop Learning
Time for my Sunday hymnals. pic.twitter.com/LA8mM5JKT4
— BryanDRoth (@BryanDRoth) November 8, 2015
No, this doesn’t mean you need to become a Cicerone or BJCP judge or know how to describe every detailed flavor of a beer. It means that with more news and information available every day, there’s a responsibility to be knowledgeable in order to best pass along context and point of view.
I love writing because it’s an excuse to always read. Always talk to someone new. Always learn.
Beer is – and should – be fun.
Beer can also be more than that. It’s a sociocultural construct that offers more stories than I’ll ever be able to write. Which is also fun. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth wanting to know more all the time, because…
Don’t Rely on Hot Takes
Rattling off an impassioned post can feel exciting. Sometimes it’s important. There are always too many.
Which is why time and research is important. If you’re going to try and make a point, prove it. This is why I rely on academic research, evidence, interviews and numbers. The latest column from MarketWatch’s Jason Notte is a perfect example. He wanted to talk about the rapid increase of beer brands and he’s got numbers galore to point out the issue.
I think it’s incredible we have so many people who love writing about beer. But please, remember that if you really want to hammer a point home, have the correct details to back it up. It’s so easy to do some searches or read other blogs and news outlets. Because…
People Are Going to Read You
We live in an era when the opinions of peers is more relied on – and preferred – than ever. The Internet is a powerful space and feeding incomplete or incorrect information to readers doesn’t do anyone any good.
Sure, it’s easy to write something inflammatory or based on speculation, but for as much as you think your responsibility is to beer or the beer industry, it’s actually to your readers. First and always. People will find you. Please don’t let them down or lead them astray.
The Next 500
I put in a lot of time and effort into this blog and other beer-related work I choose to do. Sometimes I find it hard to believe I’ve gotten as far as I have, whatever distance that may be.
I am forever thankful for what this work has brought me in experiences and friendships. I have drank amazing beers. I have gone to amazing places. I have met amazing people.
I don’t want to stop. I don’t intend to. I love challenging myself, from forcing myself to becoming a better photographer to offering in-depth research that I hope makes us all smarter people. It’s because of this blog.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support. Thank you for being a part of this weird thing that somehow took me from obscurity in November 2011 to 500 blog posts and seeing my words in the oldest American publication about beer.
I’m a lucky guy.
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac