It all started in the fall of 2006. My editor was staring down the barrel of huge changes at Gannett, one of which was the emergence of social media and blogging at newspapers.
He asked me if I wanted to, along with a co worker, cover the International Beer Festival in downtown Portland and write about it for the newspaper’s web site.
We did, and “Will Blog for beer” was born. I have no way to prove this, but our research shows we were the first newspaper beer blog in the country.
With $20 a month, out of our editor’s own pocket, we wrote about new beers and attended the yearly hop harvests and did beer and cheese tastings with local artisans. We made videos and had a great time. Then my co-blogger was fired after he fell asleep in court after having covered the new cops shift from 6 a.m. that morning.
The very next co-blogger turned out to be one of the best people I’ve worked with in my six-years in journalism. An extremely talented writer and a newbie to craft beer, Michelle Theriault provided that sassy, skeptical voice that the blog needed so badly. I, after all, am an ardent supporter of almost anything man can brew and unashamed to say so in print.
Eventually we would split up too, after having witnessed the Oregon craft beer revolution from front-row seats.
Theriault left to attend grad school, and I took a job as the online reporter at the Missoulian in Missoula, Montana. One of the first questions they asked me was if I’d consider writing a beer blog for them.
|At the start of it all. See you all in the next adventure.|
The Grizzly Growler was born in the early summer of 2007. A hot and unbearable summer, it was only quenched slightly by Montana’s growing craft beer scene. But that summer was a lot better than it would have without a good diversion from the smoke and fire all around.
For three years, GrizzlyGrowler.com provided a backdrop to a growing industry in a state with the highest level of beer consumption per capita in the country. That might be considered crazy, but Montanans like their beer, and as it turns out, they like to read about beer too.
From just a few followers to more than 10,000 page views per month and over 1,000 posts in three years, GrizzlyGrowler.com has been a community within a community, a place to talk about every new flavor, style or event in the state.
With “Will Blog for Beer,” things ended gradually, and the following, while good, was not as strong as here in Missoula. Grizzly Growler took on a life of its own, with a faithful following among area brewers who would gladly pass along tasting notes on new beer styles or give me a short video interview.
I took on beer blogging partly to cut the monotony of beat reporting, and it became a part of who I was as a reporter. Each city and every new brewery had its own identity that made the job extremely fun.
To my Grizzly Growler readers. Sorry to come to such an abrupt end. If I could bequeath this to someone else, I would. If someone could pick up where I left off, I would do anything to make that possible. Unfortunately that won’t be possible.
I do hope someone in Missoula picks up the craft beer blog torch. A central clearing house for beer information is a great thing for brewers and beer fans alike in Missoula.
And most importantly, I want to thank all of you for your openness, your willingness to teach me and interact with me.
To those who walked me through the process and invited me in for tastings, especially Matt Long, Tim O’Leary, Thorsten Geuer, Josh and Craig at The Rack, Mike Howard, Brian Smith, Dave Ayers, Jake and Tony at Bitterroot, and Travis Zielstra. There are others, you know who you are. Thank you for making the last three years and Grizzly Growler everything it was. I learned more in that time than in all the years I’ve been enjoying craft beer. Your company and your expertise will make for great memories in whatever happens next.