Heather Vandenengel of Beer Hobo is hosting the 86th iteration of The Session. This month’s very a propos topic: Beer Journalism. Special thanks to Bryan D. Roth for playing harp to my fiddle on this one. A more thoughtful follow-up on the topic will be posted tomorrow.
ANYTOWN, U.S.A — It is with heavy heart that we must report the passing of Modern Beer Journalism. In a classic example of the wrong place at the wrong time, he was tragically caught in a hail of bad grammar and poor research outside of a beer blog at 9:42 PM, June 23, 2012. He was 18 hours old.
Modern Beer Journalism (or BJ, as he was known to his friends) was born, brimming and spilling, into a world of digital possibility. While many were concerned that being reared and raised by poorly educated rampant optimists might hinder his development, others noted that BJ bore the intellectual hallmarks of beer evangelist Michael Jackson. Some in the industry thought he may, with time, prove a prodigy, a keg of insight just waiting to be tapped so that all his bubbly wisdom could fill glasses that had been dry and empty for too long. But this world is a cruel place, filled with memes and Buzzfeed quizzes and countless other machinations of time-wasting evil. Because of his low-birth, he was never able to live up to his role model; a bud snipped before we ever got a chance to see what flower might bloom.
BJ started writing at a young age. Much of his work was derivative and trite, focusing on meaningless cultural ephemera and faddish trends du jour. For a period, he wrote nothing but “Top 10 Beers to Drink in Summer” articles, thinking that truly, deeply, passionately, people actually gave a shit about his hastily scrawled dreck. He never seemed able to shake the misogyny that hid deep in his psyche, nor his crippling and honestly depressing lack of self-awareness, probably because he was so drunk all the time. But the fact that he was writing anything at all provoked people into thinking there was potential. His writing was important to the beer and to the people behind the beer. Without the words and stories, the voice of the brewer was like a beautiful ’65 Fender Stratocaster unplugged, unamplified. A few stellar examples of his prose beamed starlight splendor across the internet, and even those outside of the brewed world took note. For a fleeting second, like that moment of beauty before the diaphanous fragility of a soap bubble collides with the hard ground, Modern Beer Journalism burned with vivacious fire.
But like many young people, BJ fell to the intoxicating rush of instant internet gratification. He began hanging out with the curt and oft misunderstood Twitter gang, spending all day retweeting junk, even though he knew it was bad for him. He became obsessed with pointless minutiae; how many hops a brewer could cram into a pint, how much theoretical “imperial” was possible before the beer was akin to paint thinner. His inborn lust for truth was replaced by a lust for attention, attention gained through sloppy, gimmicky novelties and a personality that never flirted with anything beyond the most shallow pools of obvious empiricism. He grew, eventually, to be a shadow of the man he should have been; a cheap facsimile that bore BJs name, but none of the power of his pedigree.
While the police have not released an official statement, many of those close to the family suspect foul play in relation to BJ’s death, and sources tell this reporter that Vani, aka “The Food Babe,” has been detained for questioning. Authorities are also on the lookout for several hundred others masquerading as “writers,” all of who are suspected of having ties the Facebook Mafia, the blurry Instagram Mob, and other seedy organizations.
BJ is survived by a small group of close colleagues, who, with a lot of work and a little bit of luck, might be able to bring honor to his lost legacy, and make the future of Modern Beer Journalism bright. In place of flowers, please read BJ’s birth announcement (originally reported by Bryan D. Roth) so that we may remember him in a time where we just assumed he’d suck, and hadn’t yet been proved right.