Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The pitfalls of live beer blogging

Last weekend, on a whim, I thought I would conduct a none too scientific experiment by blogging live from the pub.
Normally on aswiftone.com it's either a tried and tested format of a post-pub beer inquest, a picture feature, a festival preview or some quirkiness from Timbo.
On Saturday I thought I'd bite the bullet and blog direct from Sheffield in the midst of the tickers' ball.
I'd never tried it before but how hard could it be? I had the necessary Blogger app and a camera on my smart phone.
But the experience turned out to be far from perfect. 
From an information point of view, it told people what was on the bar where and it gave them a chance to drink it rather than be a days' old blog post. But it was not as immediate as twitter can be for telling you what's on.
Presentation wise, it was a bit comedy. The layout looked fine on my phone, but on desktop view there were far too many schoolboy howlers. Pictures went on too big, underneath text and bled into stand alone side columns. 
It needed a fair bit of tidying up when I got home!
But I had positive feedback on live blogging as I made my journey around half-a-dozen Sheffield pubs.
Some of these were comments from like-minded souls on the foot of my 'boozeflash' blog updates or link retweets from the pubs I visited.
It was nice to get cheered on while at the typeface.
But the biggest problem I had with live blogging was that it felt rather too much like working, instead of an escape.
Far too much time was spent taking pictures, noting ABVs and hop content etc.
As a sagacious Bloke from Hull said to me afterwards: 'You should not lose sight of enjoying the time rather than treating it like a real job'.
Too true, it ate in to my valuable drinking time. Three pubs had to be cut out of the planned itinerary because I ran out of time from tapping out updates.
On the Sunday I went back to those three venues to do it the old fashioned way: have the experience, then write about it later.
From a selfish point of view, Sunday was much more enjoyable than Saturday. No time deadlines, no half a pint minimum in each pub limit, just a fine time loafing in The Fat Cat, The Kelham Island Tavern and The Ship Inn.
When I walked into the Fat Cat I was told by dark beer fan Lisa that the Holsworthy Ales Bee Merry was well worth trying. I had never come across this 6% honey stout before nor the Devon based brewery who make it.
The honey came through but not in a sickly sweet way. The brewer's claim of a 'light buzz of hops' was also made out.
In short, it was my beer of the weekend, just shading Mallinsons fine 12 Hops of Christmas in Shakespeares on Saturday night. 
There were no constraints on Sunday so another half of Bee Merry was had. 
I later found out from the brewery, via twitter, that their beers are 'not normally found too far from Devon/Cornwall but the Bee Merry has been requested all over this year!' 
I nearly followed it up with Five Towns/North Riding Mad Monk 8% Russian Imperial stout, which had captivated us at The Star in Huddersfield the other week.
But it was time to move on after a leisurely lunch and a pint of Bee Merry.
The stout had put me in the mood for yet more dark beer, so it was off to the Kelham Island Tavern for a half of AllGates Pot Calling The Kettle. It was a 5.2% Black IPA, a beer style which has grown on me over the last couple of months. I'd also rated the brewery's other November special the day before, Poppy in The Blake Hotel. So it was nice to follow it up with its November stablemate, which was another good beer from the Wigan outfit. 
I nearly stayed in the KIT for another beer but it was again time for a change of scene to a pub, which has become a bit of a firm favourite of mine recently.
The Ship at Shalesmoor held three real ale hand pumps: Farmers Belgian Blue, Chantry Iron & Steel and Abbeydale's Snowblind.
I went for the latter, a 4.6% pale ale made with US hops. I did try and cleanse my palate with water beforehand after drinking predominantly dark beers. But I never seemed to shake that lovely, lingering rich taste you get after good dark beer, so Snowblind is one for me to try again another day.
So there ended a mixed two-day beer tour of Sheffield. 
Looking back on it, it'll be a while until I try live blogging again. I might use it for a major festival or a Christmas crawl but I need to familiarise myself better with the slimmed down mobile version of Blogger before tackling it again. I also need to get back to more leisurely drinking!
Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish all aswiftone.com readers, near and far, a Merry Christmas and A Happy (beery) New Year.

No comments: