I apply a relatively simple test to any technological advance.  If I start using it, it is definitely mainstream.  

Therefore, I can confidently declare that broadband, blogs, Facebook, MySky and touch-screen mobile phones (as of yesterday) are perfectly ordinary.  Twitter still eludes me though.  I will never truly trust any invention where the person in the world who is the best at it is Ashton Kutcher. 

British beer writer Melissa Cole is the author of the popular and entertaining blog ‘Taking the beard out of beer’.  She is a Member of the British Guild of Beer Writers and has been described as “the thinking man’s drinking crumpet”. *

Malthouse proprietor Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scotsman met Melissa when he was gallivanting around Britain with the Impish Brewer Luke Nicholas.  Alert readers will recall that one of the two barrels of Epic Journey Inter-Islander Pale Ale was named in her honour.  She kindly agreed to share her thoughts on New Zealand beer and the rise of beer blogging:
“From what I’ve experienced of NZ craft beers I’m impressed at how they’ve taken inspiration from the various established beer cultures and made it very much their own.

The brewery I’ve drunk most beers from is Epic and Luke’s technical ability, combined with his inventive use of ingredients, has produced some exciting, yet still very drinkable, beers.

The beer blogosphere has had a huge impact on raising great craft beer brewing to a whole new level of social consciouness and I’m thrilled that so many people feel so passionate about it – it makes my job as a professional beer writer much easier!

By that I mean when I’m trying to talk to (often very unreceptive) UK titles and they say ‘our readers aren’t into beer’ I can point them straight at the explosion of people writing about beer, creatively and passionately, and often they are genuinely surprised at the level of blogs out there and I get some work!

The flipside, as with all things on the web, is that there is increasingly a disingenuous culture around promoting beers for money but not declaring it, which I’m strongly against and I’d urge anyone who has a blog to either be transparent or avoid this kind of behaviour.

All-in-all though I think it’s a really positive thing for craft brewers across the globe that there are people that will not only take time to drink their beers, and enjoy them, but to share that enjoyment with the rest of the world.”

Twitter is also becoming increasingly important for brewers and bars around the world.  This form of micro-blogging was created in 2006 and is consistently ranked as one of the 50 most visited websites in the world.  Interestingly, an analysis by Pear Analytics separated tweets (messages) into six categories:

§ News
§ Spam
§ Self-promotion
§ Pointless babble
§ Conversational
§ Pass-along value

In the least surprising result since Ben Johnson’s blood test, the largest category was ‘pointless babble.’

  As Professor Jonathan Zittrain from Harvard noted, “the qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful.”

There certainly are some interesting twits (as I believe they like to be called) out there.  Of particular interest to readers of this blog is @MalthouseWizard from @malthouse.  He is “casting spells and giving away free beers in November for becoming a follower, random acts of kindness, funny tweets, great re-tweets and any other reason I feel like really”.  He has also provided a list of his favourite twits down the bottom of the page.

Finally, I was greatly amused by this quote from Bruce Sterling, a science fiction writer: “Using Twitter for literate communication is about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite ‘The Iliad.’”

Tweet on you crazy diamonds.

* Well, she has now.


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


Melissa Cole’s Blog ‘Taking the Beard out of Beer’ – http://girlsguidetobeer.blogspot.com
Melissa Cole reflects on having a barrel named after her –

Twitter Malthouse Wizard – http://twitter.com/MalthouseWizard (there is a small clue as to the Wizard’s

identity in the ‘name’ section of this page)
Twitter Malthouse – http://twitter.com/malthouse
Twitter Impish Brewer – http://twitter.com/epicbeer
Twitter Wine Wanker – http://twitter.com/winewanker
Twitter Steve Biddle – http://twitter.com/stevebiddle
Twitter The Lady Glass – http://twitter.com/TheLadyGlass
Twitter A Jobbins – http://twitter.com/ajobbins
Malthouse Facebook Group – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington/Malthouse/7084276173
Real Beer – http://www.realbeer.co.nz/blog/blog.html
Beer and Brewer Magazine – http://www.beerandbrewer.com/