20 Aug 2009

From another perspective

I've been following the debate about professional vs amateur beer writers in Alan's and Knut Albert's blogs. Understandably, the discussion goes around what is written and published in English.

Being an Argentine that lives in Prague, who also happens to write about beer in Spanish, I thought I could give my two cents, but from a different perspective.

The brewing industry is very important in the Czech Rep., so beer is mentioned quite often in the printed media. There are reports and articles about price increases, the hop harvest, closings, openings and mergers of breweries, new products, etc, and the brewpub boon has not gone unnoticed, either. However, most of that appears in the business of financial sections of newspapares and magazines. There is very little that's written from a critical point of view. It is as if the printed media didn't want to antagonise the big breweries, who are an important source of advertising revenues. And for the moment, there isn't any specialised publication.

Things are even worse in the Spanish speaking press. What little is written about beer is either press releases, shill or downright awful. It's as if the atittude was "We must write something about beer. Nobody knows anything about it here. It'll be enough to put a few technical terms and exotic names to give the impression of some knowledge". Otherwise, how can you explain the phrase "Lager is a kind of pale beer of moderate taste very common in the US", published in a major Colombian newspaper? Or that idiosincratic list of the "Best Beers in the World", put together with the help of an imaginary panel of experts,  that included a beer that is not produced anymore?

All this is to say that if it wasn't for the blogs, it would be very difficult for enthusiasts living in these countries to discover and learn more about the fascinating world of beer.

In Spanish, there aren't that many beer blogs, but their number is growing. Some of them are doing a great job covering the happenings of their respective markets, much better than anyone from the "traditional" media would ever bother to do, which sometimes gets close to becoming activism. Their "mission" isn't only to speak about their personal experiences, but also to enrich the local beer cultures by sharing their knowledge and opinions.

And this is the thing where blogs, in any language, have an advantage over the traditional media. The free sharing of knowledge and ideas. Almost every blog will link to other similar ones, which creates a chain and, in some cases, bona-fide communities of beer lovers. It's thanks to this that I've found many of the blogs that are today among my favourites. That's because, I believe, most of us don't consider other bloggers as competitors, but as people with whom we share a common interests or even a philosophy.

Of course, there is a bit of everything. There are great blogs out there, and there are horrendous ones. There are authors who express their honest opinion and there are others who don't seem to be all that honest. But, come on! You can find the same among professional journalists. The only difference is quantity.

Na Zdraví!

1 comment:

  1. Good points. And you soon learn to spot the horrendous and dishonest bloggers, and it's easy to avoid them, isn't it?

    The web has, as you say, enabled us to establish real communities. Some of us meet, on occation, to have a beer. Some of us interact almost daily but may not ever meet in person.

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