At the British Guild of Beer Writers‘ Awards Dinner in December, Pete Brown, last year’s winner of the Golden Tankard, was on the judging panel and made some very astute comments on the state of beer writing, and particularly online.
Pete took charge of judging the Online Media category, where there were more submissions than in any other, and more than ever before. No longer are we as beer writers restricted to the written word. Podcasts, video reviews and more all make up part of the online beer landscape, and comparing them directly is particularly difficult. In the end though, those that took home prizes were all bloggers and writers, using the written word alone to further the cause of good beer.
Pete noted that many more online beer writers deserved awards than just Richard Taylor and Adrian Tierney-Jones, and I was dumbstruck to hear my own name given an honourable mention alongside previous Silver Award winner Jerry Bartlett. As well as being enormously proud just to hear my name said out loud by a man with a microphone, I was struck by the fact that online beer writing must surely now outweigh the conventional printed word.
I think the Guild does a great job of recognising those that deserve acclaim annually, but in the modern world of beer writing, that might not be enough. In fact, hell, it isn’t enough, okay? There are people (not me, admittedly) who bust their chops in the blogoshire every hop damn day, fighting The Good Fight.
Some do enormous, inspiring, epic pieces. Others write in a solid, unyielding crusade on a single issue. Others still have a voice that is just so compelling that anything they write becomes essential reading. So, in recognition of this, I’d like to start A New Thing to run alongside Mark Dredge and Andy Mogg ‘s Golden Pints: the Golden Posts. The Golden Pints have an award for best beer blog/website, but as a single award I don’t think it adequately reflects the breadth of online beer writing anymore, which is a Really Good Thing.
I think the categories can be flexible. Off the top of my head:
Best History Blogpost – a piece that uncovered something truly interesting from the history of beer and pubs, whether that’s something poignant, weird, academic, esoteric, important or frivolous.
Best Impassioned Rant – we’ve all been there. “THIS JUST ISN’T RIGHT!” The words come tumbling out, the language gets colourful, the issue gets red hot and everyone’s going on about it. These are the pieces that start riots, but they might also be deeply-felt, well-reasoned and just as convincing.
Best Pub Piece – Most likely a pub review, but not always. Maybe they just ended up at a pub, and described it perfectly. It’s most probably a piece that champions the pub, but there’s no reason it can’t be a This Pub is What Is Wrong With The Industry type thing. Maybe they found out a great story, or had a Herculean session, or became the stars of a great story as a result. Maybe the piece just gave you a warm, fuzzy feeling about how great pubs are.
Best Palate Post – We all read a lot of beer flavour descriptors now. Often, far too many. Sometimes, people are just listing fruits they can name. Not this blogger. Whether this person has had professional training or not, they seem to pick out the most inspired flavours, and you can tell they aren’t just making it up. Their palate is a finely-honed instrument, challenged by unusual beers but never bested by them. Pick a particular post that demonstrates this.
Best Beer Travel Post – This piece will have taken us somewhere exotic or familiar, but in any case it really took us there. Simply, the best beer-oriented travel piece you’ve read. It should make you want to go to that place immediately, or at least make you seriously consider it. Maybe they went to a brewery, or a city, or a city full of breweries, fifty pubs, then fell in a ditch. Someone write that.
Funniest Post – Think of pieces that took an irreverent or satirical look at an issue everyone has scrapped over. The kind of piece that cuts right to the quick, makes you laugh at the beer scene, or even yourself. Maybe it was controversial and close to the bone, perhaps it was just a warm-hearted jest with just the right amount of cheekiness. Laughing Out Loud at the very least.
Open Category – This could be anything. Maybe you want to award a particular blogpost for cheering you up on a particularly rough commute, or it introduced you to your new favourite brewery. Maybe the post just has fantastic photography, or has personal significance just to you. Beer writing should be evocative, so give this award to the post that deserves recognition but doesn’t fit in anywhere else.
How to go about collating all this, though? It’s hard enough remembering what our favourite beers are. I would suggest apps like Pocket if you read a lot of blogs on your phone or tablet as well as your computer. You could even just have a bookmarked folder you add particularly impressive posts to as you come across them.
I think the Golden Posts is worth a try. It’s more than just clapping each other on the back. There are tonnes of great bloggers out there who aren’t members of the Guild, or they are and their stuff isn’t getting the recognition it deserves. I’m going to do my damnedest to make a list of my favourites as the year goes along. Let me know if you have ideas for categories and ways of collating lists, or any thoughts on the idea at all, in the comments.
UPDATE: After a very positive response, I think the Golden Posts 2014 will be going ahead. A blog post later in the year will confirm the number and name of the categories. Until then, please continue to leave any ideas or suggestions in the comments. Cheers!