Meet The Beer Media

Meet the Beer Media – Literature and Libation

Name: Oliver Gray
Established: 2009
 

Why do you do it?oliver

I’ve always been a writer, so a blog seemed like a natural extension. I started it originally to encourage myself to write more, which slowly dovetailed into my homebrewing and beer love. I’d say I do it for two main reasons: 1) it gives me a place to write frequently and I enjoy that, and 2) it gives me a place to write things in my own way and style that I know damn well no sane editor/publisher would allow into an established publication.

I kept doing it because I find beer/brewing a very fertile landscape to talk about science, culture, economy, and sometimes even the human condition.

What else have you got going on in your life?

Quite a lot! While I do spend an inordinate amount of time keeping the blog going and thinking about beer, I also work full-time as a technical writer. It’s not a bad gig, and I’ve always liked IT. It presents some of the same problem-solving, logical, and technical challenges as brewing. The end product isn’t always as fun though.

Outside of work, I’m an avid gardener who happens to homebrew (grow my own hops, trying to grow my own barley, and also grow an assortment of hot peppers/herbs), and when I can’t get outside, I like to read and play video games. I’m also addicted to DIY, and enjoy fixing things around the house and spending far too much time wandering the aisles of Home Depot and Lowes. 

I’m married to a fantastic lady who is amazingly tolerant of my quirks, have two cats, and support Manchester United. Hey. I was born in Manchester! It’s legit.

What makes you keep writing if you’re not getting paid for it?

I’d like to say it’s some altruistic drive to inform and educate, but really, I’m a loudmouth and writing is just more plotted-out talking. I keep writing because I like to express myself, and love the conversations that come on the backs of certain topics. The working full-time thing gives me the freedom to not have to write to pay the mortgage, which is incredibly liberating. In an odd twist, If I had to do this professionally and got paid for writing about beer as my main source of income, I think I’d burn out very quickly. 

I also daresay I enjoy writing. Like, actually really, really look forward to carving out narratives. It’s a safe place for me. There’s an amazing sense of achievement in wrestling a maybe crazy idea down into a cohesive blog post, and I find the sound of my fingers clacking on the keys pretty damn relaxing. Yeah, I’m strange, I know.

What’s one of your blog posts that you like the most?

I wrote a piece on the anniversary of my father’s death that I really like. I know it sounds morbid, but we’d gone back to England, to his favourite pub, and spent some time with the ghosts of our family. Connecting personal things to the culture we’re in, and our own complicated histories is one of my favourite things about beer writing. 

One tip about beer blogging that you’d like to share?

Read more. And not just about beer. Aside from actually writing, the best way to improve is to read other great writers. Get out there and read some great novels, or well-done nonfiction like Michael Pollan or Mary Roach. It’ll really open your mind, and by ingesting other good prose, make you a better writer by mental osmosis.

The phrase ‘‘craft beer’’ – love it or hate it?

Hate it. Wrote a post about getting rid of it. It had an important marketing place a few years ago, but it’s empty at this point. Beer should be called beer, and judged on the merits therein.

One thing that still surprises you about the beer scene?

Lack of consumer knowledge. Even at brewery tap rooms I still hear people spouting the oddest kinds of misinformation, with all the authority of an elected leader. “Did you know that one of those stainless tanks is full of liquid oxygen?” Legit something I heard, as a guy proudly pointed at the bright tanks. 

I know we’re closer and more connected as writers and enthusiasts, but it still surprises me that the average excitable drinker (who is really financing this whole movement) hasn’t managed to get the basics down, yet. Nice to see breweries trying to educate though.

And one thing you hate about it?

Fanboyism, on either side of the fence. I’m sick to death of the polarity of “craft vs. big beer” and all the emotional, illogical subjectivity that comes from being too far on one side of the fence. Every person and every situation is far too nuanced to be as black and white as people try to color them. We’re allowed to hold multiple ideas and opinions at the same time, and those opinions are also allowed to change overtime. Zealotry does no one any good.

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