From music webzine editor to newspaper journo to beer blogger – all the while becoming ever more fascinated with great beer – Glen Humphries has spent a life writing, with Beer Is Your Friend his beer blog. It’s one that allows him to pontificate, cheerlead, review and query in equal measure, while in his day job he gets to write a weekly beer column for his local paper too.
Given he writes for a living, we should shut up and let him get on with it as Beer Is Your Friend is our latest featured Aussie beer blog.
Name: Glen Humphries
Name of blog: Beer is Your Friend. And you know how long it took me to come up with that name? Weeks.
When I started the blog I came up with loads of names that had a beer pun (because I figured a beer blog had to have a beer pun in the name. How else would people work out it was a blog about beer?).
As it turned out each of those names was already in use on the blog hosting site I was using. So when I thought up Beer is Your Friend and it hadn’t been snaffled I thought “Bugger it, that’s the name.” I’m still slightly ambivalent about it but figure I’m stuck with it now – and it does reflect the less-than-serious approach I like to take to beer. But, jeez, I still feel envious when I find a beer blog with a killer name.
When did you start the blog?: June 2012
I write about:
Pretty much anything beer-related. Could be beer reviews, wondering whether it’s morally dubious to check soft drinks into Untappd, book reviews, a two-month long series of Q&As with brewers from GABS, taking a bite of a big issue like the faux craft Steamrail debate or the way beer companies try to make a “beer for the ladies”, homebrewing or just posting a beer-related video each week.
If there’s a way of mentioning beer in a blog post, I’ll write about it. More recently I’ve brought in more of a focus in what’s happening in my home city of Wollongong too – what are the local breweries coming up with next, what bottle shops have something different, what beery events are happening – that sort of thing.
What you do when not blogging:
In my day job I’m a journalist for a newspaper in Wollongong. Covered quite a few rounds in my time there but at the moment I’m the transport and infrastructure reporter. And, for the last three years, I’ve written a weekly beer column for the weekend edition.
Why did you start writing the blog?
To be honest, it was an effort to teach myself how social media works. Being old enough to remember record players and fax machines, I wasn’t up to speed on how things like Twitter or Facebook could be used to promote things (and, incidentally, I still don’t understand why Instagram needs to exist).
So I thought I’d create a blog and then promote it via social media. I liked beer a lot so I figured the blog would be about that. But very quickly (literally within a week) the social media took a back seat and I really enjoyed writing about beer. Still do in fact. But I have yet to see a reason to create an Instagram account.
Why should people read it?
Because there aren’t any other beer blogs on the internet… But seriously, I try to make the blog posts interesting. I put a fair bit of thought into coming up with stuff that others might find worth spending some time reading. I know people these days have a lot of other entertainment options so I figure, if they decide to devote some of that time to reading my blog, I should make an effort to ensure that time was entertaining.
What do you love / enjoy most about beer?
The connections you make. And I don’t mean the drunken conversations in a pub at 2am (mainly because I have a kid and so I’m never in a pub at 2am these days). I mean the way good beer starts conversations – people don’t sit around with schooners of Tooheys Extra Dry and talk about what the brewer did. I’ve sat in good beer bars next to people I don’t know and easily started up conversations about the beer.
I’ve also made plenty of beery connections via the blog and Twitter and, even though I’ve never met most of them face to face it seems like I have – you know what I mean? And those people on Twitter I have met face to face turned out to be every bit as friendly as I hoped they would. Beer people are good people.
Your favourite Australian beer?
I’m not going to name just one – and this isn’t a cop-out. It’s just that my favourite beer changes all the time. Some of the best are Stone and Wood’s Pacific Ale, Bridge Road’s Beechworth Pale, Holgate’s Temptress, Doctors Orders' Zephyr, Rocks Brewing’s Barrel-Aged Porter and Little Creatures Big Dipper. And two beers from my neck of the woods – Illawarra Brewing Company’s Apocalypso and HopDog’s White Christmas.
Ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably have a different favourite again.
Favourite non-Australian beer?
This one is easier. Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde. About a year ago, I stumbled across a bottle shop south of Wollongong that still stocked Unibroue – must have been the only one in Australia. There is none left now and I’ve got one bottle of La Fin at home. I want to drink it but I know that, once I do, that will be La Fin of La Fin Du Monde.
Favourite place to enjoy a beer?
Usually I’m drinking beer at home because I’m lazy and prone to inertia. But I do also like getting out to the Illawarra Brewery and enjoying its beachside location – and some locally-brewed beers (or being chased by its owner if the photo above is any guide). The Little Prince in town is good for an after-work beer on a Friday. And, after going to a session of GABS this year, I’d have to say that’s a great place for a beer.
Hopes for beer in Australia?
Experimentation. I can be a bit of a beer snob from time to time and insist that everyone must drink great beer. But really, you can’t force someone into liking a beer – they won’t drink it just because you said they should. And even those beer geeks who drink stupidly hopped í¼ber imperial IPAs were at one time mainstream beer drinkers who liked what they drank and thought that fancy “boutique beer” was rubbish. At least until they tried that one beer that made them realise “hey, all beers aren’t the same”.
That’s a transition that takes time. Which is where the idea of experimentation comes in. What I would hope is that every beer drinker who goes to the bottlo to buy their weekly case of SuperDry also picks up one bottle of a beer they’ve never had before. Sure, they might not like some of them but, somewhere along the way, one of those bottles will make a difference to them. And start them on the good beer journey.
And if those mainstream beer drinkers start that journey, that’s only a good thing for those of us already there. Because the more people drinking good beer, the more good beer is made.