Sometimes it's best to keep things simple. And that's a reasonable way to describe the idea that got Tim Smith into writing about beer. A fairly recent convert to the world of craft beer, the Port Macquarie resident decided to make his exploration of the wider beer world something of a challenge: a challenge to document his adventures in beer over the course of a year and a challenge to entice his partner (above centre) to follow him down the rabbit hole.
He's almost six months into The Year of Beer now and the mission is going well; his partner is even joining him in supplying her own flavour wheels for each beer they try. So here is Tim (above left and right with Chuck Hahn) to tell us how and why he got started and how the blog has helped him and his mates discover better beer.
Name of Blog: The Year of Beer
What do you do when not drinking beer and writing about beer?
I’m an engineer on a large infrastructure project, currently situated in sunny Port Macquarie. When I’m not at work you’ll find me in the water scuba diving with the missus, spending time with friends or in the shed brewing beers with the boys.
When did you start the blog?
March 30, 2016
Why did you start it?
I started The Year of Beer after throwing the idea out there of trying a different craft beer every day for a year. Firstly, I ran it past the guys at work; I was keen to see if someone would actually have any interest in reading something that I wrote. There was some solid encouragement coming my way.
I think they were more keen to see me sink a heap of cash into buying single beers and giving them the low down on what not to buy, rather than reading what I thought, but so far the feedback has been good. The harder part was informing the missus that I was going to sink a heap of cash on buying single beers and giving the boys at work the low down on what not to buy!
After explaining the idea to her, it piqued her interest more than I thought so it sparked the idea of taking her along for the ride to try to convert her into a solid beer loving wife. Plus it would save on the wine bill…
What first got you into craft beer?
I got into the craft scene probably around three years ago and never really looked back. I’m one of those "don’t knock it ‘til you try it" people so I was always on the lookout on new stuff to try.
Coming from a country town, there wasn’t much choice when frequenting the pub, the taps were the standard New, XXXX, VB selection, which didn’t help the cause in any way. It all changed when I moved to Newcastle and found the Grain Store – it was like I’d stumbled on beer heaven. Whenever I’m back in town, that’s where you’ll find me, there or the FogHorn Brewhouse.
What does your blog tend to focus on?
Beer and shenanigans. I do my best to get a post up every day with the beer of the day; I’ll admit that sometimes life does get in the way.
I usually focus on the beer itself, how it presents in the glass, what it smells like, how it tastes. If something particularly funny has happened during the day or the week I’ll mention it along the way. There’s a couple of funny stories in there about the missus' – affectionately known as Cass-Dogg – reaction to the beers which is always good fun.
Why should people read it?
That’s a good question! One that I would have trouble answering 99 percent of the time.
The Year of Beer is about having a bit of fun whilst tasting what’s on offer other than your standard selection. It’s not about some hipster bloke who is trying to convert the masses to the most limited release of all time and more about an average bloke developing his taste for craft beer and letting people know about it along the way.
The best part is when people read it and then come to me and tell me that after reading it they want to try a particular beer, or they’ve had that beer before and thought similar, or different.
That and trying, possibly failing, to convert my missus along the way, which presents for some pretty good banter.
What do you love and enjoy most about beer?
HOPS! I can’t say it enough! I’m a sucker for a good, hopped-up IPA that smacks you in the mouth with huge hits of bitterness and fresh hop flavour.
I’m also a firm believer in sharing the love; there’s nothing better than tasting a beer through the week and thinking that one of your mates might like it and then grabbing more of it to share the next time they’re around. I find that drives the frequency of visits up but isn’t that what it’s all about!?
What’s your favourite Australian beer?
This is a toughie! The problem is there’s too many styles and too many good breweries to limit it down to just one beer!
I’d have to say at the moment it would be Milk & Two Pineapples – a collaboration between BrewCult and Newstead Brewing, Young Henrys Newtowner and I’d have to go with Wolf Of The Willows Johnny Smoke Porter.
What about non-Australian beers?
The front runner non-Australian beers would have to be Sixpoint Brewing’s Resin IPA, and almost anything from BrewDog.
What's your favourite time and / or place to enjoy a beer?
Craft beer bars, purely for the people who both work and frequent them. There’s something about the atmosphere which you can’t help but enjoy. Plus, there’s usually a selection large enough that you can’t help but stay on and sample a few!
What are your hopes for beer in Australia?
Beer in Australia is headed in the right direction as far as I’m concerned. There’s more little guys popping up able to get their beer out for the world to try and the easier that whole process gets, the better off the beer industry in Australia is.
I’m starting to see more and more collaborations between brewers and tap takeovers at pubs, which I reckon is pretty awesome!
It seems that more and more people are opening up to trying new things and that’s pushing the boundaries of what brewers are putting in their beers. I’m enjoying seeing some breweries start to use Australian native ingredients in their beers, like wattleseed and lemon myrtle – these unique flavours that are only available here are something we should all be proud of as Australian beer lovers and it’s something I’d love to see more of.
Thanks, Tim, and good luck with the remainder of the mission! UPDATE: Tim and Cass went on to open The Monkey Bar in Dubbo.