When Hoosier Beer Geek started in 2006, the beer community lacked a voice for the novices. Founder Chris Maples and I knew there were great beers to be had, but we did not know how to begin our craft beer journey. We had great resources in NUVO’s Rita Kohn and IndianaBeer.com’s Bob Ostrander, but we were looking for someone to join in the journey. We put out a call for others to join us in the Knights of the Beer Roundtable. We had some great friends along the way in Jim, Renee, Kelly, Mike, Gina, Matt E., Rod, Jessica, Chris, Matt R., Kristin, Jake, Meg, and many others who opted to travel with us.
As part of the journey, we reached out to the brewers and publicans that made a living in beer. We found a community of professionals who were passionate about their work and enjoyed that we at Hoosier Beer Geek were passionate about improving the conversation in Indianapolis. Folks like Deano, Bob Mack, Ted Miller, Clay and Dave, Tracy Robertson, Jon Rangel, Justin-Holly-Jordon-Steve, and many others that let us do silly events because it was fun. We did tailgates, breakfasts, tastings, pairings, and parties that didn’t always make sense but almost always made people happy.
We returned the favor by helping the industry with its events. We assisted the Brewers of Indiana Guild launch Winterfest and the Bloomington Craft Beer Festival, and expand the Indiana Microbrewers Festival in Broad Ripple. We brought our own unique skill sets and perspectives to the events and made them better.
But at some point, we were dedicating a lot of time to our hobby. And as anybody that is reading this knows, it is an expensive hobby. We had to either scale back our efforts or ramp up and figure out how to get paid. We opted for the latter.
Making money from social media and internet content is a tricky business. The most common way for websites to make money is through online advertising and sponsorships, but whenever the Hoosier Beer Geek collective approached the subject, we all felt the same way: selling advertising on the website felt dirty. It felt like we were selling out and bamboozling the public. In online advertising, unique views drives the money. We did not want to let the desire to drive up numbers impact how we wrote. Writing for web clicks is a dirty way to be a journalist, if you can call it that. We did not want to cheapen our writing process.
We opted to pursue compensation through two channels: event operations and contract journalism. We convinced the Brewers of Indiana Guild, Sun King, Black Acre, and others to hire us for their beer event management. While I feel that we were successful with everything we did (with one exception that showed me that beer geeks think differently than foodies), we were still a part-time operation. Everybody had their real jobs and family. In spite of the compensation, we were still hobbyists. And while the events grew, we could not. The Guild, at one hundred members, needs someone who can be dedicated to the Guild’s cause. We can’t provide that. They hired an events manager and Hoosier Beer Geek was no longer needed.
We also wrote for the Gannett publications for a while. It was great working with Neal and Amanda, but as craft beer became more mainstream, Gannett needed a writer that could address this new mainstream market in the Gannett way. And if you have seen our writings, you know that our writings are not the Gannett way. The opportunities to write dried up as Gannett hired someone to cover the craft beer beat.
We sought to improve the craft beer community. You can argue what impact we had, but the community is better now than when we started in 2006. But it outgrew Hoosier Beer Geek by leaps and bounds. There are numerous other voices and organizations that are better able to connect with the mainstream audience. Hoosier Beer Geek has become stubborn in its old age, unwilling to compromise its integrity. And we no longer have the endurance to remain dependable and enthusiastic in the community.
We are no longer proclaiming “I’m not dead yet.” We are instead the Norwegian Blue parrot. We are dead. Bleedin’ demised. Passed on. No more. Ceased to be. Expired and gone on to meet our maker. A stiff. Bereft of life, we rest in peace. We are pushing up the daises. This is an ex-beer blog.