MaltJerry is back!

Just a quick post to say “I’m back!”.

To a chorus of: “We didn’t notice you were gone”, the MaltJerry blog returns after a hiatus of several months. It was not abandoned, merely “suspended” by my web host, following unforeseen, but perhaps predictable technical difficulties.

Xmas dinner 2015 med

Christmas dinner 2015 chez MaltJerry

Apologies to everyone hoping for or expecting a write-up. I have received some great beers in the post in recent months, sampled some fantastic brews and drams, been to some brilliant events, eaten (and dare I say, cooked) some delicious meals, and changed in the way I think about “owning” whisky.

I wanted to come back with an all-new approach and look, but realised that would just delay things even more.

 

Many thanks to PolitisktinkorrPappa.wordpress.com for sorting this whole thing out.
Above and beyond the call of duty by many a mile.

No reviews, no predicitions, just…

Who was it that said “I don’t do predictions and I never will”? It was me, one or two years ago, quoting Gazza or David Coleman or Charlie Brooker, or some such hero.

Inevitably, as well as most of the rest of you, I find my train of thought pulling in at Resolution Central again. Thankfully, the alarm klaxon sounds: avoid review of the past year, avoid promises and predictions for the coming year.

MaltJerry, self-regarding

MaltJerry, self-regarding

Yet, at this arbitrary turning point* in the orbit of our blue-green planet about an ordinary star in an insignificant part of one of trillions of galaxies, we think, despite all evidence to the contrary, that what we say tonight will make a difference. We still aim to change the drift of our own histories.

I take a sip of beer. Meantime India Pale Ale. It’s suitably celebratory-looking in the bottle with its wire-caged Champagne-style cork. I have an equally celebratory Fuller’s Vintage 2013 waiting to ring the new year in, as well as a Cava cork to pop and an Ardbeg Alligator to first-foot with. Deep breath…

I feel though, to use the Baltimore street-language of TV drama The Wire, it’s time to change up. I wrote a post on “Why I write”, as if to justify to myself the effort I expend on a blog about beer, whisky, food, and (vanishingly) music. The only sensible way to follow that up is to ask “Why would anybody read?” This gives me the impetus to “change up”.

I’m tired of reading what is and what isn’t “OK” to write or feel about the beer and whisky worlds. It’s all too self-regarding and too niche. It’s not about writing for a bigger slice of the choir. It’s about getting more singers. I want to be read by beer and whisky drinkers who don’t read about beer and whisky. Then again, how many of the drinks I wrote about in paragraph 4 did you know about? (I won’t hold it against you, just try them.)

Two lyrical quotes for me to take into 2014, one question and one statement: “What difference does it make?” (Morrissey). “Something better change” (The Stranglers).

Nevertheless, Happy New Year!

*What’s the turning point in an orbit, an elipse? Perihelion? Yeah, I know we’re past that.

 

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.