Posts tagged ‘blog’

April 18, 2013

Blogging: how to make your millions

If you’re looking for tips on how to make your blogging millions then you are in the wrong place. If you are looking for a few tips on blogging and making the transition to writing beyond your blog, then put the kettle on and pull up a chair. There was a time not so long ago that I would wonder how people did things. How they saw blogging, writing, pitching and the like. How they motivated themselves to put out their thoughts and opinions week in, week out. The majority of the blogging books, articles and online advice didn’t hit home with me. It was a little contrived and not I felt, completely honest. So I started to ask. Simple really. I’d email, tweet and ask in person, to gleen information from people I respected and whose work I enjoyed. I’m now in a place where I get these same questions from friends and strangers alike, so thought I may as well post some of those nuggets that have helped me here.

Good blogging is not about how much free stuff you can get. I’ll put this one out first of all. I’ve heard too many stories from bloggers, brewers, bar owners, PR’s and the like. Ultimately you will have no credibility and in some cases be a laughing stock. You may be happy to be known as someone who would go to the opening of a paper bag. In effect you are a blagger not a blogger.

Accepting freebies is a finely drawn line. It’s normal and right to accept samples, but when the samples or hospitality is grossly over the top then it’s the slippery slope to being a PR puppet.

Find your style, develop it and be proud. Don’t be afraid to speak as yourself.

Lean writing wins every time. A flabby, flowery piece may display your fulgurant vobaculary (well done) but measured, lean language is ultimately more impressive. Left to run wild, I’ll wax lyrical for 1000 words when it should be 500. I first thought I had to write in a literary style, over time I found my style and you will too.

Ask. My above point, but worth repeating. Approach writers or others you admire for advice. Everyone likes a little flattery and love to impart their wisdom. Good people like to do good things.

Be brazen and take a chance. Think about where your ceiling is in terms of who you think would publish you and break the ceiling. We often underestimate ourselves.

Pitches should be short, snappy and to the point. Some books and online articles will tell you that a pitch needs to be detailed and a page of A4. It is i’ve found: bullshit. Most editors don’t have the time or the inclination to be reading it. they want it spelt out in a couple of lines. If you can’t distill your idea then rethink it.

If they’ve not said no, you may still get a yes. If an editor says i’m not sure it’s quite right, refine it. If they say i’m not sure we’ve got space right now, tell them you’ll get back in contact in a month or two. If you don’t hear back from them, respectfully chase the buggers… It’s a simple piece of advice that I’d credit to Zak Avery at last years European Beer Bloggers Conference. It’s served me very well.

People will say no, people will ignore you, some will be brutally honest… suck it up and carry on regardless, you’ll make it in the end. There’s a myriad of reasons why you aren’t right for a publication. Don’t take it to heart. Don’t blame the publication. Step back, re-read your pitch and the rejection and you should get some insight into where you are going wrong.

What’s the hook? I was asked this a lot when first pitching. Simply saying I went here, did this, drank this, ate that is not a hook. There has to be relevance, topicality, originality. if it’s been done to death don’t attempt CPR.

I’m sure there’s more that will come to me so I may post further points. If you’ve got tips, please share in the comments below.

December 22, 2012

Q&A: Hannah, From Desk Til Dawn

Pub Diaries Q&A returns after too long away with a favourite blogger. In fact the blog that I most eagerly await each week, always finding the odd gem in From Desk Til Dawn’s Mixtape series or Sunday Swoon. It’s honest, funny and unabashedly heart on sleeve… I implore you to check it out. You won’t be sorry.

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Blurb…

I’m Hannah, daughter of John from Hoxton and Sue from Gypsy Hill. They eloped from London when we pesky children came along, to raise us in the fresh air of Devon. However, country living is highly overrated. Give me the smog of London any day. This city is the boom and the lick!

First pub experience…

Where I grew up, in Brixham, the entire town would go out in fancy dress on New Year’s Eve. When I was 13 my big sister allowed me out with her group of friends under strict instruction that she looked after me. I went out as a St Trinian’s girl in my actual school uniform, all sorts of wrong. My sister got me horrendously drunk on White Lightening and then dragged me on a pub crawl from there. She abandoned me on the statue of Prince William of Orange on the harbour. Taken home by a policeman after he asked me how old I was and I answered by throwing up. My mum didn’t speak to my sister for weeks but she maintains she did me a favour by introducing me to the perils of drink so early.

Best finds…

Where to even start! I’ve developed a huge crush on Princi on Wardour Street for Italian roasted aubergines and wedges of salty pizza. Then there’s the Kennington Tandoori, hands down my favourite curry house. Try the Nilgiri Murgh if you ever visit. Best drink had to be at the Hackney Wicked festival the other summer. Feet covered in dust while we danced to steel pan drumming while drinking Caipirinha’s, swigged unceremoniously out of plastic cups. Looking back it was one of the rare times when you’re just in that exact moment, not thinking about the past or worrying about the future. It’s the first time I’d had Brazil’s most famous cocktail. It will always be associated with a very happy day.

Your Jukebox Trio…

This is an utterly impossible question so I’m just going to come out with the first three tracks that spring to mind and move on otherwise I’ll be on this question, prattling on about music, for a very long time. I write a blog, mainly about music, so if you ever stop by my site you’ll see I’m a huge music nerd.

Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place

Van Morrison – Moondance

Maccabees – Love You Better

Pub heaven…

I know I should probably care about the wine, whether they stock Sailor Jerry’s, but quite honestly you’ll always find something you want to glug behind a bar. For me it’s all about being with people that keep me engaged, interested and chatting. As long as I have that I’d drink Lambrini if it was the only thing on offer.

Pub hell…

Massively loud euro trash/pop playing at ungodly levels. If that makes me sound terribly middle-aged then I stand proud. There’s a difference to always be respected between pubs and bars versus clubs.

Favourite local…

The Good Ship in Kilburn. Many a brilliant night in there since moving to London. Seems to have the knack of moving seemingly from a decent place to have a quiet pint in the afternoon to a late night boozer with great live music, DJ’s and comedy. Very fond of this place.

Favourite non local…

The Stag in Hampstead springs to mind. BBQ’s in the beer garden in the summer always with a great soundtrack, then in the winter you can see cosily indoors amongst dark oak, chopped wood and cosy fires.

What’s on the horizon…

I literally have no idea right now and I can’t work out if the unknown is massively exciting or something to panic about. Time will tell. I do know that it will continue to involve my most committed and successful relationship to date. That relationship being with this brilliant, grumpy, nocturnal and surprising city.

September 12, 2012

Hiatus, Ham, Hackney & Hopster

So It’s been a while since my last post but as is the way, life takes over and something has to give. Namely this. I’ve always hated posts full of fake apology – as if my absence from the blogging space would weigh too heavily on anyones mind – but i’ll just say that preparing to get wed, planning months of travel, leaving your job, moving home and hemisphere all at the same time isn’t a recipe for having time on your hands.

That’s not to say that i’ve not had any chance to indulge, just that i’ve not had the time or mental capacity to string a sentence together. So as I ease myself back in after the short hiatas i’ll just list some of the highlights, which I may expand on in the coming weeks.

copyright: Friends of Ham

Friends of Ham, Leeds

If you follow on Twitter (@thepubdiaries) you may have seen a flurry of Ham related activity as I recently turned porcine fanboy. My visit to Friends of Ham, was much anticipated (bt me, not them). For months there had been talk of its opening and I watched at a distance through social media. The name intrigued me, the logo enticed me and when I finally got to visit the space and the people in it beguiled me. A craft beer bar, come charcuterie where Cheers style everyone knows your name (but maybe that’s @lordofthebeers fault for pre-tweeting my arrival). Quite simply the best bar i’ve been to in years.

Cock Tavern, Hackney

In between the planning, packing and honing wedding playlists, I have been doing more and more freelance writing. Pots of espresso at 5am have become the norm as I juggle deadlines (lets just say i’d never get a job in the circus) and try and remember what the hell i’m writing about. Many of these have been for View London and as much as I love to find a new pub to add to the beer drinkers equivalent of the Knowledge it can start to wear slightly. Until the assignment is the Cock Tavern in Hackney. It’s up there with Friends of Ham, which is why i’ve put the two together and you can read all about it here. It’s places like this that reinvigorate me and make me realise why I do what I do.

London Fields Brewery, Hackney

I am a late comer to the charms of this East London brewer, but have fallen for them in a big way. When I discussed the beer list for the wedding I wanted some relatively cheap bottles of well known beer for the guzzlers amongst the guest list. Asahi was the choice. We then had a mix of Meantime and the other usual suspects. It still didn’t grab me and while I was tempted to just let it go, Clerkenwell Kitchen’s manager Ciaran came through with a suggestion of London Fields. It fitted the bill in terms of being locally sourced and with a craft angle. There’s nothing better than looking round and seeing people eskew their normal habits, holding a big bottle of Hackney Hopster or Love Not War (apt for the event I thought) and more importantly enjoying it.

May 30, 2012

Beer and Bunting: The Alternative Jubilee

As the bunting is strung up and Londoners prepare for public transport meltdown, Pub Diaries is here to tell you beer drinking proles what else is happening in the capital this weekend. If your idea of a good day isn’t watching Her Maj’s booze cruise putter down the Thames here are a few alternatives which may float your boat.

Saturday 2nd June – The Euston Tap, Lager Party

A day of Punk and Hotdogs awaits at the Euston Tap’s Lager Party. Czech Pilsner, Bavarian Helles, local boys Camden and their Black Friday await. For fans of self styled beer punks Brewdog there will be an exclusive supply of Growler, a Citra infused lager. We’re told that they’ll be using the UK’s only Randall beer infuser.

Sunday 3rd June 13:00, The White Hart – Stoke Newington Literary Festival – Pete Brown’s Beer & Music Matching

Billed as Pete and his iPod I’m thinking this could go either way. After seeing him tweet Eurovision on Saturday night I’m hoping that I’m not subjected to an afternoon of Boom Bang a Bang. At £4 for a beer flight and the opportunity to hear the beery bard I’m willing to take the risk. Tickets are selling out so get in while you can!

All Weekend, The Cavendish, Stockwell

I’ve always been a fan of The Cav and they know how to throw a party. They’ll have events from Friday onward. Balkan Bebop, Burlesque, BBQ, Bingo and other letters of the alphabet.

Know of other events going on? Pop it in the comments… God Save The Queen

April 18, 2012

Q&A: Kelly Ryan

I think that this weeks Q&A will be a firm favourite across the beer world, as we catch up with possibly the busiest man in beer. Formerly of Thornbridge, Fyne Ales and Epic; and now moving onto new prospects, we hear from Kelly Ryan.

 

Your brewing ethos…

Passion, Pride, Fun, Flavour, Quality

Beer epiphany…

I don’t think I’ve had just one beer epiphany, but sitting in a Flavour Chemistry class with my old professor, Jean-Pierre Dufour (who was instrumental in the development of the brewing division of the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium) here in NZ and tasting through Duvel, Chimay Red, Chimay White and Chimay Blue was definitely a big part of it. JP was ridiculously passionate and taught me loads about beer, brewing and fermentation science. It was his palate, however, that never ceased to amaze me. He inspired me to taste everything I could and to describe as much as I could. I still remember that first sip of Duvel. The effervescence and that Champagne-like mousse coupled with the delicate spice of the yeast. So damn good!

Best beer find of the last year…

Anchorage Love Buzz Saison – A heady mix of peppery goodness, the delightful tartness of the Saison yeast, a hint of Brettanomyces for good measure all tied together with an undercurrent of light oakiness from the French oak Pinot Noir barrels that it’s aged in. An elegant and fascinating beer and the type that should be served up to beer and wine lovers alike.

Sounds heard in the brewery…

If I’m mucking about doing trial brews, it could be anything from some good NZ reggae (Katchafire), Fat Freddy’s Drop (NZ Reggae/Dub/Jazz/Roots) or something a bit more out there like some crazy industrial Skinny Puppy or KMFDM or even some Tool, A Perfect Circle or Pink Floyd. A bit of everything really! The Beatles often pop up on the playlist.

If I wasn’t brewing I’d be…

Dead! Either that or teaching brewing :)

Before I was brewing I was…

A student on the road to being a brewer… I was studying Microbiology and Food Science degrees and got into a trainee brewer programme with a big brewery straight out of university. It was meant to be!

Favourite thing about what I do …

I think it’s probably similar to most brewers… I love recipe development. Envisaging a beer and a culmination of flavours and aromas. That mixing together of diverse and interesting ingredients and that point when it all comes to fruition and you taste the finished product. I love that.

Greatest brewing achievement to date…

A tough question! I enjoy the fact that people have had enjoyment out of what I do for a living. The odd award here and there is always exciting as well.

Things you miss about the UK…

This could be a long list! I miss being able to go to a local market or supermarket and get incredible cheeses for a decent price. I miss the snow. I miss foraging. I miss the pub we used to run and live in, The Coach and Horses in Dronfield. I miss Mark Taylor’s incredible food (the ex-chef of the Coach). I miss Loch Fyne up in Scotland where I started my UK brewing experience. I miss the Peak District. I miss our great friends. I miss the huge choice of beers that are available in the pubs of Sheffield. I miss Thornbridge Kipling. I miss the friendliness of the Yorkshire and Derbyshire folk.

What could we learn from NZ…

Be more proud of your local fare. It’s fantastic. I think the cuisine of the UK is awesome, so many interesting dishes and flavours beyond the usual roast meat and fish n’ chips.

Which brewers do you look up to…

Thornbridge (of course!), Dark Star, Hawkshead, Brewdog, Lovibonds, Fyne Ales, William Bros, Fullers, Adnams, Sharp’s, Brooklyn (US), Odell (US), Dogfish Head (US), Sierra Nevada (US), Russian River (US) Sprig and Fern (NZ), Feral (AUS), De Molen (NED), Birrificio Italiano (ITA)… in fact this list could go on forever!

Pub heaven…

That’s easy! The Coach and Horses in Dronfield. Surrounding by the hum of conversation by the locals and sitting down to a leg of rabbit done in a cider and mustard sauce and matched with a bottle of Maredsous 10 from the fridge. It would have to be snowing just a bit as well.

Pub hell…

A cold, empty pub with nothing good on tap, a menu from a freezer bag and bar staff that spend all their time on their phones and glare at you icily when you order a drink.

Favourite local pub…

I’ve just moved from Auckland and am currently working out of a great craft beer pub in Hamilton called House on Hood. A good beer selection on tap and friendly staff, so it’s an easy one!

Favourite non local pub…

I’m a big fan of The Malthouse in Wellington. Awesome beer selection, knowledgeable staff and it’s nice and relaxed. The pizzas are pretty tasty as well!

What advice would you give any aspiring brewer…

Work hard, be prepared to start at the bottom, work even harder, clean everything that you can see or reach in the brewery and then work hard some more. When you’re not working hard, read everything you can on brewing, expand your horizons and taste as many foods and beverages as you can, build up your palate and your understanding of flavour and aroma combinations and never be afraid to innovate. Have fun along the way and talk to as many brewers as you can!

What’s on the horizon…

In New Zealand, usually the ocean (see what I did there!). Doing some brewery consultancy work at the moment which sees my go from NZ to Canada to NZ to Fiji, then off to judge at the World Beer Cup in San Diego and check out the awesome Craft Brewer’s Conference there. After that it’s back to NZ to install and commission a new brewpub in Hamilton that I’m going to be plying my trade as a head brewer. Exciting times ahead!!

Finally, can you tell us a joke about beer…

Did you hear about that brewer who didn’t like Brettanomyces in his beer? He said it tasted Orval! Yeah, I’m pretty crap at beer jokes.

August 28, 2011

Englishman in New York: the Hurricane formerly known as Irene

So Irene has come and gone. By the time she reached New York City, CNN were telling us that she’d been downgraded to a tropical storm. All the same the rain was banging at the window and the horns on the fire trucks could be heard all night. Screaming in the street at 2am put me on edge and it made for a fitful nights sleep.

For 24 hours we were confined to the hotel without knowing for how long, whether the power would stay on, whether the water would stay on. We had food, bottled water, some beers and tap water in ice buckets (just in case we were talking days). We were issued with glowsticks and hand fans. If the power didn’t go off we could always have a rave was the thought.

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The hotel staff at the Hudson were and continue to be great. Dressed in black I Love NY t-shirts they went about delivering service as if there was just a smattering of rain outside. Most guests took it in their stride while others were visibly distressed. One in tears as her flight had been cancelled was comforted by a receptionist with reassurance. It’s moments like this when I’m glad we didn’t go down the bargain route. The hotel bars for the most part were open, a cinema room and drawing station were set up and messages left on in room answer-phones from the exuberant General Manager. It took on a strange cruise ship vibe as you walk the common areas. I’m yet to find the shuffleboard.

After a few drinks in the bar, a Magic Hat #9 by candlelight, it was back to the room for a Barney Greengrass dinner of bialy, pickled herring, potato salad and pickles. A little bit of channel hopping before that fitful nights sleep. Strip away the news coverage and twitter and I think sleep would have been easier.

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We’ve not ventured out yet but the streets seem to be returning to normal.

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March 5, 2011

Pub Diaries: Proud of British Beer

It seems that the SIBA Proud of British Beer film has divided opinion, albeit only in the murky depths of the online beer community. I have to say that from what i’ve read so far there seems to be more praise than criticism, with the general opinion being that it’s a welcome development. Leading the charge for the positive crowd is writer of the script and all round beer writing, drinking and talking supremo Pete Brown. Having read his recent post it added some context which made me re-evaluate (slightly). I get the message, I support the message and I don’t think the film is without its merits. But I still stand by my points made. I dived into comment on Pete’s post at position number 43 and in the proceeding 24 hours (and counting) seemed to have remained the last comment. Now I think I made a pretty good point. And believe me this can be a rare occurrence and I realise how arrogant that last comment sounds. So this was it:

I’d count myself as one of those taking the odd pot shot via Twitter and blog post – how else to wile away the time before the clock hits 5? And yes I’m anonymous to an extent. I’d stand by any pop I took but with the added context of time, budget and intended audience my view does thaw slightly.

If it gets the message over to a targetted group and that’s the intention then great, but I’d stand by the point that something else could take this alot wider. So taking account of this and comments that it doesn’t hit the spot with a younger audience there’s a spark of an idea. It may just be the hangover wearing off but perhaps SIBA, CAMRA, Individual Brewers or just individuals pick up the baton, or in this case a camera and record why they are Proud of British Beer? If you’ve got a video phone or a digital camera then you’ve got the tools for the job. Could this be the start of a number of lo-fi Proud of British Beer indie films? Brewdog, Proud of Punk anyone? Right that’s my quota of constructive thought for the day I’m off to the Pub.

In my own warped mind I’d like to think that cameras were being dusted off and there’s crews of slightly pissed up bloggers turned Auteurs roaming the pubs of Britain. In reality I’d think that few people took it seriously. So I suppose I better put up or shut up? So I’ll be dusting down the Super VHS and posting something provisionally titled Pub Diaries: Proud of British Beer. It probably won’t be next week, it probably won’t be next month but it will come (nothing like a vague timeline to fall back on!). Hell that might even be more than one! It’s not an attempt to take a pop at SIBA or anyone else, it’s just another way of showing support (and tossing around with a camera pretending i’m Kubrick or Coppola). It will probably get shot down in flames, be riddled with continuity errors and draw hits in the mere 10s but its ok by me as I will have given it a go; and I suppose that’s what being British is all about.

January 12, 2011

Mason & Taylor, Bethnal Green Road, E1

I have eagerly awaited a visit to Mason & Taylor since hearing that the folks behind The Duke of Wellington were opening on Bethnal Green Road. The Duke in Dalston was at one time just around the corner and quickly became a firm favourite. It has it all. Great staff, great beer, great food. It is as you may have guessed Great.

I was willing Mason & Taylor to be on a par with the Duke as I don’t live around the corner from the latter anymore but I do work nearby Bethnal Green Road. A first attempted visit had been thwrated by their Christmas Party but undetered and in fact more eager I headed to Mason & Taylor the next day. I won’t leave you hanging. It is in fact also… Great. The décor is stripped back concrete and canteen chairs. It bucks the trend of filling the space with kitch which more often than not looks like an explosion in an Oxfam shop. The staff are, as with The Duke, efficient, friendly and knowledgeable. The food is small plates for sharing; a British tapas I suppose. The York ham with poached duck egg and parsley sauce and a rarebit were my particular favourites. As for the beer there is a wide choice with around 12 ales and beers on draught as well as a seasonal bottled list. I had my first pint of Brodies, Redemption and Wandle at The Duke and Mason & Taylor continue the trend with an introduction to the Camden Town Brewery and their American style, Camden Pale Ale and the helles style Camden Hells Lager. Judging by the empties which soon pile up you can say it went down well.

In my post on the Owl and the Pussycat I pondered if it would only ever be a fallback. On the form of Mason & Taylor I don’t see that a fallback would even be needed.

Mason & Taylor, 51-55 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA

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