When the Abilene Reporter-News head honcho (read: Doug Williamson) first approached us reporters about our website’s new, local-interests-oriented venture, I thought it was a pretty good idea.
After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a easy-to-navigate, all-inclusive guide to the fun things that occur in our fair city?
I sat at the rectangular meeting table on the second floor of our Cypress Street building, vigorously nodding my head in agreement.
Sounds like a good project, I thought. People will like this.
Later, Head Honcho announced that the reporters’ contribution to the project would be producing a weekly blog post on a subject of their choosing.
My head stopped nodding. A sour expression overtook my face. I didn’t like this plan anymore.
I’ve never written a blog before. I don’t even know how to write a blog.
Wait — is “blog” a noun or a verb? Is it both?
My professional writing experience has been contained almost solely to the style in which you normally see my byline associated — that is, in the style of the Professional Journalist, in which The Associated Press Stylebook is the Bible, and the use of “I” or “me” or “you” is tantamount to a cardinal sin.
What Doug Williamson was asking us to do was like asking a 100-meter sprinter to run the 3-mile race, or asking a pianist to pick up the tuba, or asking a haiku poet to match Stephen King word for word.
It’s just… different.
In the meeting, my head started to pound and swim. I thought what I normally think while trapped in a mandatory work meeting: I could really go for a beer right now.
And then — voila! The proverbial light bulb lit above my head.
I like beer. No, I love beer! I’ll write about beer!
More specifically, I’ll write about craft beer, a complex, fizzy creature which is produced by a small-but-growing faction of American craft breweries.
The Brewers Association defines a craft brewery as “small, independent and traditional.”
“Small” is defined by an annual production of 6 million barrels or less, “independent” is defined by being at least 75 percent owned or controlled by a craft brewer, and “traditional” is defined by at least 50 percent of a brewer’s production volume being all-malt beer.
If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is, kind of.
Depending on which beer-head you ask, certain larger craft breweries, such as Samuel Adams and Sierra Nevada, shouldn’t be considered craft breweries at all, even though they cater to a more esoteric and experimental crowd than say, Bud Light does.
Others wouldn’t consider anything you could buy at Albertson’s or H-E-B to be craft beer. But as with any hobby, there are casual participants and, on the other end of the spectrum, there will those who are far more fervent, whom some of us would refer to as “snobs.”
And they might even agree with that designation.
I would place myself in the middle of that spectrum. I’ve tried my fair share of craft beers, I’ve driven out of town to pick them up, I’ve made special orders from distributors.
I’ve tried a few of them that I loved, many more that I liked and just a few that I didn’t care for.
Stone IPA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and the Dogfishhead 90 Minute are probably my three favorites.
You’ve already heard me ashamedly admit that I have no clue how to write a blog. And for other admission: I also have no clue exactly what I’m going to write about.
But I do have a few ideas.
I want to talk to people who are interested in partaking in craft brews, and it’d definitely be interesting to talk to some local folks who produce the stuff (I know you’re out there!). If you consider yourself to be an expert on the subject, I definitely want to talk to you.
Come see me at the bar — I’ve been hanging out at Barley-Hoppers Drafthouse a lot lately — and have a sit-down with me.
If you’re feeling antisocial, send me an email (Christopher.Collins@reporternews.com) or hit me up on Twitter. I’m flexible.
Now, if I can just get the newspaper to pick up my bar tab …