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Five Years On

Over the weekend I belatedly realized that this here beer blog had eclipsed a few milestones. Thursday the 5th marked the fifth anniversary of the site being live and my last post in August marked my 100th article written here. I had no idea!

I suppose my cluelessness to such milestones can be attributed to distraction. My days at work are generally filled with constant deadlines to stay ahead of incoming shipments at Day One, a far cry from my less responsible former life, doing Support and Marketing at a brewery software company.

Over the past 5 years much has changed in my life, as well as the content found on this site, not to mention how much has changed in the craft beer industry, primarily as a result of the new realities we collectively face, post-pandemic.

The Foundation

In looking back at where things were 5 years ago, it’s clear to me now that those days were primarily stories about events that all the local beer media were asked to cover – I was attempting operate at the same level as the other writers, yet they’d been doing it for years.

I had come from 3 to 4 years of being the Assistant Editor and Portland Correspondent at American Craft Beer, leaving their more nationally focused format to launch my own Portland-centric site. Yet today it feels like I was just throwing ideas at a wall trying to find my voice all over again, to set myself apart and disconnect from the last writing gig.

In 2018, my first year of CBS, I posted 50 articles. Conversely, in 2021, I wrote only 8, then half that total last year. This site had become my after work hobby – finding things to write about, events to preview, new breweries opening, and occasionally some feature or opinion articles.

It wasn’t till I highlighted 14 small, lesser-known breweries across Portland that were worth checking out that I broke through to a broader audience and really began to enjoy what I was creating.

A Chuckanut Brewery & SteepleJack Brewing collab day in March 2022

Strife & Change during the Pandemic

Speaking of that article highlighting small breweries: since it’s publishing, 6 of them closed and 5 opened new taprooms, with either result occurring primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While I spent most of 2020 writing about protests in the streets, maintaining a list of open locations and the services they provided, or about the pandemic in general, I also wrote 19 articles for work, only 2 less than I posted here. Indeed it was a crazy, sideways year.

At some point in 2021, I certainly began to reach a different level of burn out than I’d experienced before when it came to writing. Call it pandemic malaise or a result of readership declining as a result of shorter attention spans (myself included), creative writing for me over the past 2 years has primarily been in the form of short Instagram posts.

I’ve definitely missed writing full articles, though I’ve also been less inspired to do so. Maybe it’s because every event in our pandemic lives felt like a big deal with so much going on day-to-day and so many things changing in the beer industry. It’s just not that way anymore and it honestly feels like not much has happened over the past year-plus.

The first bottle share at The BeerMongers since the pandemic, April 2022

What’s Next

Throughout 2022 I came to find my focus to be only on topics I’m interested in, not to jump at every possible story or accept every request from breweries who’re requesting folks to cover an event or release. There are plenty of other outlets in town who cover these stories and I’ve been content to simply post what excites me in the beer industry.

In September I hatched an idea to do another in-depth study of a specific sub-set of breweries, a feature on those that have opened since the pandemic and are owned by couples. There are 8 in all that will be featured and I’ve met with 4 thus far. The 4 I’ve yet to meet up with have all just opened their brewery, are the midst of opening a location, had major life changes, or we simply haven’t been able to schedule a meeting. Opening a brewery is difficult enough, so I’ve done what I can to make myself available to these new owners at times that work, not prioritizing any sort of deadline.

Darren & Ny Provenzano of Fracture Brewing

It’s my hope to have that article done by early March, but who knows. Otherwise I foresee a lot more writing happening on the Day One blog as I’m beginning to have more time to pursue the marketing side of my job, plus we’ll be featuring some exciting brands that’ll be landing at Function PDX throughout the year.

That said, I’m kinda of at a loss right now as to anything else happening in the beer industry to get excited about. Yes, February is Oregon Craft Beer Month, plus there’s always PDX Beer Week, though my interest in beer fests has waned as well. To me the most exciting aspect of the beer industry now is beer tourism – leaving town to visit a bunch of breweries that I’ve always read about but never spent time at in person.

Beers at Barley Brown’s with owner Tyler Brown in October

What’s Missing

What I’d really like to see change in Portland over the next year or two? A return to taprooms with a speakeasy vibe, with a well curated taplist and on-site bottles – something akin to The Upper Lip or the original Abbey Bar on NW 21st. I miss those cool hideaway spots and how some would host panel discussions.

If we could return to more interactive, collective conversations where the general public and breweries coalesce around specific topics (without some outrageous ticketing fee), that would offer so much more motivation to engage further in the Portland beer scene.

Yes, we’re in the midst of what’s historically the slowest month of the year for retail in general, in the middle of winter, so there are more exciting things to come. Personally I’m hoping to embark on more travels and I’ll soon be looking for another place to live in town this year, so there will be a lot going on.

Thanks for sticking with me for past 5 years. It’s my plan to be around here more often this year and hope you will be as well!

A gathering of the Portland Beer Writers & Industry Social Club, August of 2019

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