Thursday, March 31, 2011

Brew Tunes...a story of a beginning

I almost started a travel blog in 2006, I even bought the domain name, I just let it expire last year. In 2007 when I was cooking up big meals for friends in my college apartment, and reading food blogs religiously, I almost started my own food blog but the lighting in my apartment was old and cheap, and thus my photography was bad, and I was a full time student so it didn't seem like I could dedicate myself to the blog like my favorite food bloggess did. In 2008, I was traveling again and told my Awkward Traveler stories to my friends via a blog. In 2009, and still traveling, I wanted to share music I was hearing with my friends who lived a whole continent away and this little blog came into existence. 

Of all the blogs I tried to start, I never thought one of them would stick or grow in the way NMC has. It has been 16 months of writing (although the first 6 months don't count because I was posting videos and didn't know MP3 blogs or Hype Machine existed back then). I find myself itching to expand and start another blog, because besides my failed attempts at writing about travel, cooking, and awkward stories there has always been one other topic I've wanted to write about since it holds a place in my heart, in the passionate hobby section right next to music. I love craft beer. I volunteer at every craft beer festival in a 100 mile radius, I love talking beer, I love keeping up with the beer trends (sour beers are delicious), I've dabbled in home brewing, and I find myself perusing beer blogs almost as much as I read music blogs. And now I want to write about it. 
I've found it rather interesting that beer and music blogs follow such a similar formula. Mainly that you focus and write about recent releases. Breweries or their pr counterparts send out the info and samples in the same way artists, labels, and music pr people do. Then us bloggers try it out and write down what we think. In fact, you can basically use the same adjectives you use to describe music to describe beer (i.e. bold, complex, understated, underrated, buzzed about, trendy, overwhelming, balanced...etc). The music blogging scene is far more over saturated than beer bloggers. I just noticed a bunch of new beer blogs popping up in the past year and I've seen people refer to themselves as "just another damn craft beer blog" just like many music bloggers say "just another music blog" but still the numbers have got to be on the music blogging side by a landslide. It's funny those beer bloggers don't seem to realize they're one of 1,000 people who regularly write about beer (an estimate) whereas a singular music blogger is like a speck of dust in a universe.

Of course there are more differences, and obvious ones, like music involves listening and beer involves tasting. Due to the time and monetary investment it takes to brew beer and sell beer, beer bloggers are far less inundated with emails asking them to review products than music bloggers are. There is no way they get 20 emails a day asking if they've tasted so and so's beer yet. Many beer blogs are in the beginning stages and poorly designed in comparison to some of the wonderful layouts music bloggers have implemented. 

What I've noticed and thought about the most for my "niche" is how few of the beer bloggers have a personality associated with their blogs. There is a formulaic way of reviewing a beer which is fine and actually makes writing about it a piece of cake, but there is so much more you can do with it. The success of Turn Table Kitchen, the charismatic husband/wife duo out of San Francisco that pair recipes with songs, got me thinking why can't I do that with beer? I want the two things I'm most passionate about to go steady together in one blog. I've been thinking about it for months, I had set up a tumblr, and then realized I had no time to devote to developing a readership for a new blog. So here we are, I'm piggybacking of my current readership and hoping you like beer, or at least want to hear about some beers you might have not yet tried. If you like this idea check out the boys at Draw Us Lines who beat me to it with a most excellent beer/music post, as if I needed another reason to love them. 

"Start Beginning" with Harpoon's IPA
I'll start you off with a local and easy introduction. I've described this beer from Harpoon to friends as a "beginners IPA" so it seems like a good place to start. The Harpoon IPA is their flagship beer and can be seen on taps all over Boston. I've seen self-proclaimed non-IPA beer drinkers try this beer and like it. Harpoon's IPA is one of those rare ones that you could easily have two...or uhh more if you're having one of those nights...without feeling like it was too much. The hops don't hit you in the face but it still has the classic characteristics of an IPA, just more subtle. It doesn't smell overly hoppy and has a citrusy nose and finish. 
This pairs nicely with an introduction to Nizlopi, a UK band. Sadly, they announced the end of this band recently, which had been dormant for a few years anyway. I was a little upset because I had always thought they had so much further they could go...just like how Harpoon needs to do an IPA that's between this one and their extreme (both in alcohol and hops) Leviathan Imperial IPA, but they probably never will. Nizlopi's song "Girls" tops my itunes charts as one of the most played. However, "Start Beginning" mentions springtime, and it's light, refreshing, but not an outright in your face pop song. People just starting to discover music outside of the mainstream can start with this friendly pop song that never made it to the radio. Just like if you've shied away from IPAs in the past, I think you  should try Harpoon's. Just because I love whoever managed to read all these words, here's an extra song. Cheers to more brew tuneage coming your way.

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