Friday 1 August 2014

Hop and Barley

The success of this blog peaked late 2009 when I came runner up at the British Guild of Beer Writers awards. For a very short time I had the idea I might actually get paid for writing about beer. Many people told me this was not an easy thing to manage. Four and a half years later I have come to believe them.

A topic of conversation that has on occasions bothered members of The British Guild of Beer Writers has been the lack of decent periodicals about beer. There are those published by CAMRA, Beer in particular is very good. Other than that there are not many beer-ralated publications that might commission paid beer writing work.

Fuelling the frustration is the disproportionate unbalance there is when it comes to column inches or TV airing when comparing beer with other beverages. I could mention a certain food program, maybe.

The debate rumbles on about how viable a proper beer magazine could be. Some point to the fact that it is expensive to distribute onto news stands. Others think that it would work if only someone would fund such a thing. I've always taken the view that if something is viable, and enough people want it to happen, eventually someone will have a go. If it truly has wings, then it'll fly.

At the weekend I was thrust a copy of a new concept of beer publication called Hop & Barley. A crowd funded project that promises to be a bi-monthly quality volume, with limited advertising so as to not detract from subject matter and delivered direct to your door.

It looks professional. Well designed, and binding and finish1 done to give a sense of style and quality. There is a good mix of subject matter, including brewery information, event reviews and a beer cooking article.

Hop & Barley looks like a good idea. If successful it should help provide a new and fresh approach to beer publishing. Being a subscription publication it should cut down on that killer distribution cost. It will no doubt provide an outlet for writers to contribute, although I'm not familiar with any in this preview first edition that I have. Perhaps this will be a new wave of writers, younger, fresher and more in tune with the ever changing beer scene.


1Perfectly bound, I believe is the term. What do I know? I'm not a publisher. Well, only on-line, and we all know internet writing doesn't count as much a print.


Alistair Reece said...

Shame the website's not really up to snuff.

Ben Viveur said...

Sadly I think there's unlikely to be a market for more than a very small handful of full time, pro beer writers.

The way in which people expect to consume content has shifted - we live in a world where 'online, instant and free' is the norm - and those of us who like to sit somewhere vaguely comfortable (sofa, first class train seat, toilet etc.) and read good old fashioned print are probably dwindling in number.

Most of what I write is written for free (though the various freebies from the industry is welcome recompense!) but the exception is the in-flight and hospitality industry magazines, where occasionally I have an opportunity to get paid.

The downside of this is that the ones who are prepared to pay usually edit your copy into something almost unrecognisable from the original draft...

Curmudgeon said...

There must be a question mark as to who the target market for such a publication is, though. People who are interested in one facet of the broad subject of "Beer" aren't necessarily interested in the others.