Why I write

George Orwell wrote an essay, first published in 1946, called Why I Write. In it he suggests there are four main reasons writers write. Heavily shortened the reasons, (not the writers) are:

George Orwell's collection of Essays: Why I write

  1. Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about…
  2. Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or …words and their right arrangement.
  3. Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them for posterity
  4. Political purpose. …to alter other people’s ideas of the kind of society they should strive after.


Can a blog writer possibly have the same motivations? To what good?


Not so long ago, I flew from London City airport. At the bar they had a tap purporting to serve Yakima Red ale from the excellent Meantime Brewing Company, a stone’s throw from the airport. OK, a fairly hefty stone’s throw, but anyway the beer had run out. I settled for an OK, but standard international lager. Then I went for a walk.

I found a nice restaurant with an impressive wine selection but dull beer list. Again. Things are changing, these are exciting times for beer, but things are not changing fast enough. So yes, no. 4: My political purpose is to spread the word. I want bars, restaurants, pubs, people to stock the kind of beers I want to drink.

To make beer appreciated like wine might be a start, but there’s a different political agenda there. Socio-political. The great thing about beer is that it isn’t wine. The credibility of beer as a “serious” drink, is the issue, and my way forward with that is through writing about food and beer, with beer as both accompaniment and ingredient.

Whisky is another matter – in the UK, at least.

No. 3: Historical impulse? Make the ephemeral searchable. Sounds grand? See Point 1.) I at least need an alternative to beer rating apps? I don’t often do beer or whisky reviews (not with star ratings, anyway), but I do take notes. I want to remember that limited edition bottling I found, or that magical, unexpected swift half on a Tuesday evening. Sometimes these get into posts. I also take photos and caption and annotate them. You might ask why ruin the moment by documenting it? How else to remember?

No 2. The part “words in their right arrangement” In writing about something that cosmically speaking, doesn’t matter, I had better be entertaining. I want people to read and not notice; it must please. So, a heavy dose of point 2 is a big reason for me. I hope it comes across.

No. 1: Sheer Egoism? Hey, it’s a blog, not Dear Diary! I publish and market (via the web) my views, constructive rants and opinions. It might not be The Truth, but it is out there. I like to think I’m knowledgeable to a degree, but I don’t attempt to be geekier-than-thou. I write to engage people who don’t read about beer or whisky.

My day job is technical communication, and writing about beer, whisky, food and drink culture is at least a kind of specialist communication. I try and put more more jokes here, though. I “need” to write this out of “aesthetic enthusiasm” (see point 2), and I would really rather prefer you to read it.

Why MaltJerry?

I don’t write about beer or whisky for money (yet), but I do like to get samples and I do like to get invited to events. But that’s not the main thing. I love to share fantastic beers and whiskies with friends, colleagues, and family. An enthusiast’s blog, is the best way I know of getting those experiences across. Like I said: spreading the word.

Why beer and whisky and food? Cross-pollination. Drink beer? you might like this whisky. Like making or eating good food? Then why wouldn’t you try a beer I recommend? I write also, then, to provide a place to find what to drink and why. And really,

I want to turn you on to the stuff I like, so in some idealised future London City Airport bar, or random restaurant, not even my own version of The Moon Under Water – Orwell’s ideal pub, I might find something I actually want to drink.

Had George Orwell’s essay been written 60 years later, it might instead have been a post on his blog. He wrote 1984 on the Scottish Isle of Jura. I bet he sipped a dram and daydreamed of The Moon Under Water.

Swift Half: IPA is Dead Edition 2 Motueka: a new batch is hatched

BrewDog IPA is Dead II: Motueka 6.7%.

Sunday night, the evening before setting off on a new Swedish mission. Tasting the IPA is Dead II bottlings a year after release of the second edition of BrewDog’s single-hop IPA showcase. How would 12 months and more have changed them?

Motueka is a new New Zealand hop variety I didn’t know about before. I pour in preparation for the Sunday roast. The beer looks a lively bright orange-gold, perhaps brighter than I remember on tasting it in BrewDog Camden in March 2012. Still fresh, the fruity aromas from the Motueka hops have an intensity like tinned fruit salad.

BrewDog IPA is Dead:2 single-hop IPA series second batch with Challenger, Motueka, Galaxy, and HBC hop varietals.

IPA is Dead, Edition 2: Challenger, Motueka, Galaxy, and HBC

On draught a year ago, I thought of the Motueka hop as the more refined brother of Sorachi Ace, which was one of the chosen hops for the original IPA is Dead quartet. No weird, resiny, plastic/ PlayDoh on the nose, and although it does have that mouldy orange so characteristic of Sorachi Ace, here they notes and not dominating.

It surprises me how chewy the IPA is Dead beers feel. With the Motueka, you could imagine you were drinking the syrup from that fruit salad tin I could smell. And then there is a nice blast of bitterness right down the throat. My breath comes up smelling of lychees.

Our roast chicken isn’t quite your standard: spatchcocked and has a dry rub of thyme and cumin, coraiander and fennel spice. A pretty good pairing for the Motueka, but if the rub had been more Chinese than North African: anise, Sichuan and rose pepper, it would have been a more complementary match.

It’s a relief to know that the first bottle has more than survived its year under wraps. The only damage is a little loss of vibrancy in all areas except colour. The other bottles will have to wait a little longer before I see if they fared as well.

From: Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Type: Single-hop varietal India Pale Ale, bottle. Source: BrewDog online.

Next up: IPA is Dead II. a Galaxy not too far away
The original IPA is Dead tasting at The Euston Tap, February 2011