ATJ posted recently about how the sad demise of Beers of the World magazine means "we're all beer bloggers now". He wasn't criticising blogging at all, merely saying that it's increasingly the only outlet for those of us who want to write about beer. But his comments did lead to a bit of a discussion about the merits of blogging versus other writing.
Without wishing to get into that, whatever your views, the existence of blogging, Facebook and Twitter has revolutionised beer appreciation and led to a far more diverse, colourful, fun and interesting beer community than existed when I began writing. Everyone was talking about GBBF and building the anticipation and when we got there the atmosphere was fantastic. It was great to meet Jay R Brooks, Mark Dredge, Beer Nut, Woolpack Dave, Bionic Laura and the remarkable Laurent Mousson for the first time after much online interaction. Great also to see again Impy Malting, Stephen Beaumont, ATJ, Stonch and Boak, all enjoying themselves. Beer brought us all together and really that's the only argument you ever really need to make in its favour.
Mrs PBBB was lured along to the Guild of Beer Writers event and was so charmed by meeting everyone that she was immediately roped in to come to GBBF trade day too. She was quite taken aback to realise that she has a cult following of her own, mainly consisting of people asking how she puts up with my beer-related behaviour.
I semi-retract the comment about 'freakish volunteers'. There are always a number of remarkable specimens, but I made it sound like I was slagging off people en masse. Once I would have. Now, I don't know what CAMRA have been doing, and I'm over-generalising based on isolated events, but I'd like to offer up the following illustration of how this event has changed since I slagged it off, somewhat notoriously, in Man Walks into a Pub.
Mrs PBBB: "Hello, I quite like blonde and summer ales. Do you have anything like that?"
Volunteer on Fuller's stand: "We've got this one that's strong and gets you pissed quickly, and this one that's weaker and gets you less pissed. Now which do you want? I'm busy."
This week was the first time I've been able to tempt her back since.
Bloke standing next to me at East of England stand: "Um... I'm not sure what I want. I don't know where to start."
Volunteer on stand: "Well do you think you prefer darker, maltier beers, or lighter, fresher, hoppier beers?
Bloke: "Um... darker and maltier I think."
Volunteer: "Well let's start you off with a little taster of this one and see how you get on..."
I'd be back there tonight but Leeds beckons. A visit to the Beer Boy in his wonderful retail emporium, followed by reading and signing in Borders from 6-8pm, with the very high likelihood of beverages in the North Bar afterwards. Please come and join me if you're north of Earl's Court.