It was one year ago, while sitting on my porch, looking over at this arbor, that I started up the blog. Not when I decided to start it – but when I actually did it. When I picked the blog name, when I setup the WordPress site, and when I did all the site work, creating it, building it, etc. I didn’t start it preloaded with articles like some (like some smarter writers / bloggers), and it was a long time probably overdue, but I started it, and made a main page. Started a Archive page, and with it sunny, and with a can of a brand new beer I hadn’t had before (from my shift manager at work – J. M. ) I wrote my first beer review for the site / blog.
The picture above was taken a month or two later during a rainstorm while sitting on the same side-porch swing overlooking the same arbor; which is growing Centennial, Cascade, and Chinook hops by the way; but those hops, not exactly those hops, but hops in general, is part of what led to this all. Its a much longer story than just one year, and probably a lot more convoluted than necessary. Meandering one might even say (just like my writing style tends to be, from what I’ve been told). But basically what I’m getting to (or alluding to), is that hops, and craft beer in particular, is what has led to this blog.
I’ve always been a writer, as far back as I can remember; always a reader and always a writer. (You pretty much can’t be the one without the other to some degree.) In fifth grade I wrote a short story that won a few prizes and was recognized by our governor at the time (Tom Ridge). I won’t say when I started drinking, but I will say my first ‘craft beer’ was Sam Adams. Original Boston Lager Sam Adams. When my friends were getting Budweiser or Bud Lite or Miller Lite or Coors Lite, I was ‘that guy’ who was drinking Sams.
This segued into me finding Troegs and getting into them, especially due to them being so local (first on Paxton Street in Harrisburg and then on Hersheypark Drive in Hershey; basically them starting just to the West of me and then moving just to the East of me). Fast forward a few years and me getting very heavily into craft beer, finding new breweries, trying new styles, and types, and discovering all that there is to know about beer. Fast forward to me helping out at breweries, learning to home brew, going to brewfests, taking some BJCP classes, reading blogs and watching YouTube videos, webinars, and in person seminars. Needless to say – its been a long time in coming in me writing and starting this blog.
As is typical with me, I start a bit behind the curve, where many others had been doing blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos for years, I get in after the wave pretty much crests. So, something I should have done a few years ago (say 2012 or 2013) here I am, in 2020, having started in 2019. Not a bad thing, and not a problem.
But enough about me, lets talk about the blog itself. Its the blog’s One-Year Anniversary today; not mine. (If you are reading this, you care much more about the blog than myself anyway.) So, one year ago today, the blog itself started. Started with the main page, and a four-pack of beers my co-worker gave me that I decided to use to start beer reviewing. Just like doing an Untappd review, but upped in scale and scope and size. My first few reviews were crude, rather short, and probably not as entertaining as they are now (if they are considered entertaining now). I started off with: Scratch 375 – CocoNator by Troegs Independent Craft Brewing. After that was Painting with Light by South County Brewing; followed by the first beer I did a review of that I had worked on (canning) – a collaboration with Tattered Flag and the soon to be opened Wolf Brewing: Boulangerie Stout. (You also get to see my faithful companion for at home drinking; and occasional breweries – Leela, my border collie who will turn 11 this December.)
Over the year there’s been a lot of ups and downs, in life, as well as on the blog. Stressful at times writing, and finding an audience, and getting people to see or read, I wouldn’t change it, and honestly can say its been 99.999999% fun. Very few times has there been ‘issues’ or problems, and its more on my end of frustrations with writing and basically struggling to write at times. Even something so simple as this blog can be daunting to write at times, getting the energy to do it after work (or before work), and with kids, etc. Over the past year has seen me branch out from just doing beer reviews to also doing brewery reviews, to discussing my trips to the Kinzua Bridge area and to Pittsburgh with my daughters, as well as all manner of things like brewfests, canning for Tattered Flag, growing my hops, etc.
Volunteering for Tattered Flag and helping them can has been great fun, and very informative, and has helped me learn a lot about the brewery industry and beer, and brewing. Seeing brewers come and go through Tattered Flag and learning bits and pieces from all of them.
As well as visiting and traveling to many different breweries, not just in Pennsylvania, but also in Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. Reminds me of my sister’s wedding where the reception went to four different breweries and a cidery as a ‘brew-tour’ in the Rochester area. Getting to do the brewery tour and listen to the head brewers at Three Heads Brewing was great fun and informative as well.
Getting to see a great brewery pop up basically right in my backyard (Boneshire Brew Works) and watching them grow as also been great. Getting to meet Alan, Carson, and Alex, and talk to them a lot, and then meet a ton of great people at the brewery; like Karl Larson, Josh Doncevic, Owen, Jason Millar, Kirby, and so many more people I can’t even begin to list or this blog post will just look like a list of names.
Becoming a regular (well, technically I was long before the blog, but just saying) at Boneshire Brew Works, Troegs Brewery, and Tattered Flag, I’ve gotten to meet so many great people, and get to pick the brains of so many top brewers in the area. All of which has definitely helped the blog here (hopefully, something you can tell, and hopefully something that does help and add to the blog).
I always envisioned this blog as being a big giant web of things; but all beer and brewery related. Articles on beer reviews, brewery reviews, articles on home brewing, on hop growing, on BJCP judging, articles about various brewfests or beer events, book reviews of beer or brewing books and textbooks, articles from ‘insiders’ working in the beer industry, those brewing, or serving you the beer, those from home brewers who know how to brew some amazing beers on small 1 to 5 gallon systems. From hop growers (like myself) who can tell you what you need to do to grow hops. Just a whole slew of things. And I think I have succeeded in that to some degree. Not quite the massive diversification and a ton of articles about the various aspects as I had planned; but some.
Interestingly enough, this is (ironically perhaps?) the 200th blog post of the blog, as well as the Anniversary blog posting. I have done a few other recap blog posts for people over the year, like my November Recap, or my End of 2019 Recap, or the Best of 2019 Article. I have to say, I can’t believe how this has grown, how big this blog has gotten, how well it has done, and how many talented people have graced the digital web of this humble blog.
Over the year, I have had several people writing for me. Josh Doncevic (J. Doncevic) has written several beer reviews and articles for us, and he is an amazing guy with a wealth of insight on beer reviews, breweries, and he regularly helps out at Rotunda Brewing as well as Boneshire Brew Works, and is just a fantastic guy to hang out with. AJ Brechbiel has also written a few articles about home brewing and stuff and his brew-club Default Brewing. With everything going on, and getting to work for Rough Edges Brewing, his time has sadly become limited, but hopefully (fingers, toes, nostrils crossed) we will get to see some more writings from him. Recently, I have also been graced with two friends who have also taken up writing for the blog – Andy Parys (A. Parys) and Karl Larson (ihackbeer). Both great guys who can write well, know their stuff. Karl Larson brings a massive wealth of knowledge to the blog, having won more awards for home brewing than I can count, as well as brewing commercially for Boneshire Brew Works and now for Newfangled Brew Works. The man is a walking encyclopedia; just try him sometime.
At the bottom of all of the posts and pages here on The Beer Thrillers you can see a list of the most recent articles from each writer under their name. From AJ to Josh, to Karl, to myself, to Andy, you can see all of our most recent articles, as well as the recent tweets from our Twitter page.
Which brings me to another thing about the blog – all the side stuff. Over the year, to help with the blog, I’ve begun to learn ‘social media’. Which is nowhere near as easy as you would think or sounds. The Beer Thrillers now has a Facebook, a Twitter, and an Instagram page that I regularly keep up with. (In descending order of how often I post to them.) As of 5.17.20, we currently have 562 likes and 593 followers on Facebook, 162 followers on Twitter, and 113 followers on Instagram.
Likewise with the side stuff, I have begun podcasting with my good friends that I’ve known since 5th grade – D. Scott, Dan Arndt, Esteban, and a host of other random people who pass through the garage and basement we broadcast from (including A. Parys). I am featured on several podcasts as well as commentary tracks. You can check out the Podcast at: So A Mexican and a Scott Walk Into a Bar….. I have also been featured on a call-in podcast all about beer: Beer with Strangers. My particular podcast episode is – A Beer Thriller in Hershey.
Back in February and March of this year (before the ‘dark times’, before the Empire, before COVID-19), things really were looking up for the blog here. I was featured on the above mentioned podcast. I was invited out to Extol to do an in-person beer podcast. Me and Josh visited Mellow Mink for a behind the scenes tour of the brewery. I was invited to visit the new (future home) Rubber Soul Brewery which will be opening in Hummelstown. There, I toured the facility with Jaime (head of marketing for the new Rubber Soul) and got to take visits and get A Sneak Peak of Rubber Soul. I met a representative from Visit Hershey & Harrisburg PA at the Hershey Tattered Flag location, where we discussed numerous upcoming projects and got press credentials for myself and my ‘team’ of writers. Also, in recent months, Let Us Drink Beer blog has been guest writing an article as well for us, about once a month about the Georgia beer scene, and I’ve been writing a blog entry for them about the Hershey-Harrisburg beer scene.
I have also written a rather lengthy piece back in September for Breweries in PA – which you can find both on their blog site and my blog as well. Breweries in PA – Touring the Harrisburg Area Breweries. My entry: Touring the Breweries that Surround the Harrisburg Area.
Unfortunately then, middle of March saw the coronavirus / COVID-19 really enter the American landscape, and by end of March, I’m on furlough from my job, and the brewery industry upended. Not just the brewery industry, but the restaurant industry, as well as the entertainment industry (that I work in) – which includes event planning, event type things like fests, casinos, resorts, tourist attractions, etc; all got hit hard by the disease and the restrictions placed to help maintain and safeguard the disease. The last few months have certainly been a very tough time for all; not just in the industry. With the pandemic affecting so many, and costing many lives, as well as affecting so many people’s jobs, incomes, and families in various ways, this has certainly been a troubling and trying time. No different for my blog. I like to think I have been lucky; my blog isn’t the biggest deal, its not even my job or sole source of income; this is more for fun than anything else. I still have my health, my home, and my family’s health. Times could be a lot harder for myself. So I am truly fortunate there. But, the blog has been hindered by this world-wide pandemic all the same. Things I would have been doing by now (AC Brewfest, Harrisburg Beer Week, Little Big Beerfest, RenFaire Brewfest at Mount Hope, amongst numerous other events, and happenings) have all been sidelined or postponed. Some outright cancelled. Some breweries have closed and expansions cancelled (Stoudt’s, Full Pint, Crystal Ball, Night Shift), while there has also been some good news – like Hemauer’s Opening. This has certainly been troubling times indeed. But we will get through, I know of that. Humans are resilient, we’re tough to kill, we’re hardy, we’re tenacious, and we love our beer. We will survive, prosper, and come back. This I am sure of.
On the more – amusing side of things, my friend D. Scott has started a gaming live-stream page on Facebook that I have guest-starred on a few occasions. You can check it out at Knights of Nostalgia. We play mostly old school NES, SNES, and similar video games. Please check it out, give a like, follow, and check out some of our live-streams.
I am hoping that everyone has been enjoying the blog. That you’ve all have found something of interest, read something you have liked, or have enjoyed your time reading and viewing the blog. Perhaps you have found a beer review interesting, or a brewery review interesting. Or found one of my other entries entertaining, possibly even chuckling at something. I hope I have brightened at least every reader’s day a bit, or informed, or educated, or made your day better in some way by checking out this blog.
I am looking forward to a wonderful second year. With the blog expanding even moreso. With new series and features, new types of articles, more podcasts, perhaps even solo beer related podcasts, or even just beer only related podcasts. Possibly YouTube videos. I will soon be wrapping up the Beer Education Series, which I’ve hoped everyone who has been following along with me has found informative as well as entertaining (and perhaps even educational?). I am looking forward to doing more things like this. More book reviews. More beerfest events (once the current climate changes).
Please, as always, if you have enjoyed the blog, give me a like, click the follow, sign up for the emails, and even more importantly, talk to me, let me know in the comments section, or if you rather stay private – contact me through the CONTACT US page. I love hearing from you, all of you, all of our readers. Tell me what I screwed up. Let me know where I was wrong. Tell me how I’m an idiot. That the beer I liked was actually bad, etc. Or, hey, maybe even a bit of praise? Sure, why not, never hurt the ego to hear something good right? Just leave a comment. Love hearing from all of you. It is really, honestly, so great to hear from everyone. I really truly do enjoy it, and it helps at least brighten my day even a smidge, to see a new like, or comment or a new subscriber, so don’t be shy.
I just want to close this article by saying how thankful I am for everyone. For every person that has clicked on any of my articles, who has read even a single word of any of my pages, who have clicked the like, followed us, commented on one of the articles, or in any small way supported this page and blog by forwarding or sharing posts or entries or articles or whatever you have done. I cannot say this enough, I cannot express it enough, THANK YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you x1000000000 infinitum. Thank you. It really means the world to me and my fellow writers, for everything that you have all done. I appreciate it more than I can describe. Thank you so much once again.
Thank you for visiting, I just want to give you our homepage link one last time for you to click and bookmark: The Beer Thrillers Homepage.
Cheers everyone. Thanks for making this a fun, fantastic, great year writing for all of you. Please, click the like, follow us, subscribe to us, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And most importantly, cheers, enjoy a good craft beer or home brew for us. Support your local small breweries struggling during these unprecedented and difficult times. Stay healthy, stay happy, and please come back again. Cheers everyone!