Thursday, February 9, 2017

How Beer Writers & Reviewers Can Avoid Burnout

Ah Beer! Such a wonderful thing!

It's hard to believe that it'll be four years this April since I first started this blog in my office the day after a particularly long day at work. It has taken me places I never thought I'd go and experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life. It would be wrong of me to say that I don't pay attention to other beer writers and reviewers out there, whose work I've come to admire and it's inspiring to see how enthusiastic and passionate they are about wanting to share their love of craft beer with the rest of the world.

A couple weeks back, I had woken up early like I always do, much to my wife's chagrin. Not wanting to wake up our puppy to cause incessant barking, I decided to check my Facebook News-feed while I lay in bed and noticed a new video from Chris Steltz of Beer Geek Nation had been posted. Since I'm a huge fan of his reviews, I plugged in my headphones and started watching and what I heard was quite profound. In the video, he had explained that he had taken a break on account of being burned out from the reviews he was doing and felt like he was doing the same thing over and over again.

I was a bit shocked; Somebody who I looked up to and admired for his enthusiasm with every beer he had was admitting to his viewers that it was hard keeping up appearances. However, the more I thought about it, the more his message started resonating with me because, truth be told, I know how that is. There have been times where I've begrudgingly reviewed a beer after a long day at work and really wanted nothing more than just to sit back, relax, watch some Netflix or play some video games. Or that I couldn't bring myself to be excited about writing in general and I see a noticeable difference in quality when I look back at my past reviews, during the times where I just wasn't excited about the beer I had in front of me.

With all these thoughts in mind, it's inspired me to come with a list based on my own experiences of how craft beer writers and reviewers can avoid burnout, or worse, quitting writing altogether. I should note that one doesn't need to follow all these tips as it all varies on expertise and personality but if I can convince at least one craft beer journalist out there to keep writing based on the contents of this article, then I've done my job.

1) Visit a Taproom & write about it.

Occasionally, sitting in my office and reviewing beer can get rather dull so every once in a while, I like to emerge from my Man-cave and experience they joys of a local taproom. In addition to getting out and meeting the people behind the beer, it provides me with a good amount of inspiration. And if don't want to take notes, then take pictures! Even if you don't necessarily want to write about a taproom, visiting it should at least help remind you why you fell in love with craft beer in the first place. Hell, even make a vacation out of it like I did!

Me at the Cigar City Taproom in Tampa last summer
2) Tour a Brewery

This sort of segways in from the last tip but for some reason, seeing the exact place where our favorite libations are made gives me a huge appreciation for beer at large. Case in point, when I was in Tampa last summer, me and my wife were deciding what to do before heading to Busch Gardens when she suggested we visit a brewery which she had a hard time pronouncing called Yuengling. When I heard her say this, I didn't believe her but sure enough, their largest production brewery just so happened to be in Tampa. It has an awesome tour and it was an excellent insight into the oldest craft brewery in America. It also happened at a time where I almost was considering giving up writing, but that tour gave me the kick I needed to continue writing once I returned from my vacation.

Yuengling Brewing Facility in Tampa

3) Don't feel obligated to write about beer if you're not in the right mindset.

A couple weekends ago, we said goodbye to my wife's grandpa, who had passed away a couple days prior. So between that and everything else, I wasn't able to write. Last February, I also had switched careers plus I had graduate school to deal with during that time period and as a result, I wasn't able to do any kind of writing. Since graduate school & work are quite important to me, I had to make some sacrifices and hold off on writing until the dust had settled before I could continue. The point I'm trying to make sure you take care of your personal affairs before you continue writing again.

4) Do a beer mail from somewhere you've never been!

This one's my favorite! Suppose you don't care for going out and mingling with the general population or you find craft beer offerings are becoming same-y. Then switch it up by doing a beer mail from a different part of the country. I just finished a craft beer package Georgia and will be moving on to an Oklahoma craft beer mail after this. There's always something exciting about opening a package that contains beers that you would normally never get to try out otherwise and sometimes you'll find some new favorites that you never would've had otherwise. My favorite way to go about this is to go on Reddit under the Beertrade Subreddit, which I will link below:

5) If all else fails, take a break

There have been a couple of times where I was honestly thinking about throwing in the towel and calling it quits because it had gotten to a point where I was no longer viewing beer reviewing as a hobby but more as a chore and frankly, that's not the way it should be. Every once in a while, I'll go a week without posting in order to gather myself or just for the sake of getting those creative juices following again.


So there you have it. My hope is that any beer writers out there who are experiencing some difficulty will take some of this advice to heart. The world of beer writing is a fun one but it's also easier than it looks to experience burnout. As always, thanks for reading!

- Nick

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