BELGIAN BEER JOURNAL: A YEAR IN REVIEW

SEPTEMBER 24 2014 marks our first year being on the World Wide Web. It seems like yesterday that I wanted to resurrect  a 19-year old dream to write about Belgian beer (and Belgian-Style, Belgian Inspired beers). To fully understand the motive, you’ll need to learn about my history.


THE BEGINNING… THE YEAR WAS 1981

The original idea to write about beer was born from watching beer writer Michael Jackson’s The Beer Hunter television series back in 1990. If you have been a fan of Belgian Beer Journal for any length of time, you’ll know that I discovered good beer in 1981 by first reading Michael’s book, THE WORLD GUIDE TO BEER. (Read story)

Who remembers the early 90’s? The World Wide Web was not widely available to the masses yet… (Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN invented the World Wide Web in 1989, but it wasn’t until April 30, 1993 that the World Wide Web first came into public domain). There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no email, no smart phones. Our main mode of communication back then was television and the printed word.


MEETING THE BEER HUNTER- MICHAEL JACKSON

michaeljackson-frontA turning point in my beer writing journey was  while I was working at Gordon Biersch in San Jose, California in 1991. I had the opportunity to meet The Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson.  As the story goes, he was visiting Gordon Biersch with Bret and Julie Nickels (former publishers of Celebrator Beer Magazine) at the time. Michael was very down to earth, reserved, yet full of wit and charm. He invited me to a homebrewer’s festival the next day at the Hilton hotel in Oakland California. I was working the Gordon Biersch booth at the festival; Michael specifically instructed me to seek him out there.

Upon meeting with him again, he proceeded to teach me more about beer, how to recognize the different flavor profiles and characteristics in a more profound way than anything I have ever read on the subject (even from his books). As we went around to sample products from the different homebrewers and brewer’s booths, he taught me to recognize different flavor profiles and the subtle nuances in beer. What Michael taught me 23 years ago, I have cherished to this day.


THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST BECKONS

spaceneedleI actually moved from Livermore, California to Seattle, Washington in August 1994 to immerse myself more in the beer business. In early 1994, I called up Thames America LTD. (original distributors for Taunton Blackthorn Cider, Grimbergen Abbey Ales, Felinfoel Ales, Greene King Abbot Ale, Mort Subite, Val De Sambre, and many others) attempting to gain employment! I spoke with the owner and CEO Jeffrey House; he invited me to their office in Terra Linda, California for an interview. Upon meeting with him, he hired me to be a company representative at numerous beer festivals in California.

All the while I worked for Thames America, Seattle was always in the back of my mind. The Pacific Northwest was a hub of beer activity in those days… and I wanted to be involved in it! In June 1994, Jeffrey introduced me to Chris Sarles, CEO of Alehouse Distributing in Seattle, while Chris was visiting Thames America’s office. Two months later, I made the move to Seattle, and went to work for Alehouse. I met many people in the beer business while employed at Alehouse, but I found myself getting homesick and moved back to California in August 1995. My stay in Seattle was invaluable and cemented my desire to write about beer.


THE FIRST INCARNATION- THE BEERMASTER’S CAFE

As the internet grew and accessibility became easier, I decided to make my presence known on the World Wide Web (does anybody call it that any more these days?) By August 1995, I had been enjoying craft beer for 14 years (the term for craft beer back then was “microbrewed”), and Belgian beer for 12 years.  I knew nothing about publishing anything on the internet, let alone design a website! I taught myself basic WYSIWYG site development, Photoshop, and put forth my first website called THE BEERMASTER’S CAFE. Quite a lofty title, but it sounded good.

There were no such things as blogs 19 years ago, so one had to either email people, make phone calls, or send snail mail to gain interest for your website (that’s how I did it anyway).  I sold myself on my 14-year beer tasting experience, and somehow it worked! Some of the companies I developed working relationships with were: Vanberg & DeWulf, Global Beer Network (when they were still based in Southern California), and kept my business relationship with Jeffrey House of Thames America. He was very busy promoting Ace Cider to a thirsty public, but more on that later.  In 1997, while in business communication with Brewery Ommegang, I was privileged to be one of the first individuals in California (confirmed by Vanberg & DeWulf) to taste OMMEGANG ABBEY ALE for the first time. I offered my first ever beer review to them; Vanberg & Dewulf liked it so much, they used it in their upcoming newsletter!


STEPPING AWAY FROM THE BEER INDUSTRY- FOR A WHILE

Unfortunately, I was not making any money writing about beer. Disillusioned, I decided to step away from the beer industry for a while. This lasted from 1999 until 2013. That’s all I need to say on that subject. Trust me… the details are boring.

JANUARY 2013: THE BEERMASTER’S CAFE IS BORN AGAIN

During the 14-year period of being away from the beer industry, I continued to seek out new and exciting beers from Belgium, and Belgian-Styled and Belgian Inspired beers. I marveled at how the craft beer industry grew during that time. In January 2013, I was bit by the beer writing bug again, and re-launched The BeerMaster’s Café. I actually found my old domain available to use- (TheBeerMastersCafe.com) and staked my claim! I made a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and gained a handful of readers on both social media sites, and on the website, which was hosted by WordPress. However, there was something about the arrogance of the name “The BeerMaster’s Café” that didn’t sit well with me any longer. I was seeking a new name for the website…

SEPTEMBER 2013: BELGIAN BEER JOURNAL IS BORN

Beginning in August, I did research on existing beer websites, blogs, etc., and wanted to come up with a new and catchy name. And then it hit me. I have always been a fan of the WALL STREET JOURNAL, and the name BELGIAN BEER JOURNAL came to me! I immediately searched to see if anyone had taken the name. I was fortunate- the name WAS AVAILABLE and I grabbed it!! I was stunned that no one else had taken it. This was early September 2013, and I started my beer writing journey with a new name.

The first website design efforts were good, but I wanted it to be better. My first web hosting company did not provide the design platform I needed on the shoestring budget I was working with. I had used WordPress before for another website, and decided to use their platform once again. After nearly a month of graphic design work, page layouts, etc. I posted the first page on September 24, 2013. It was for our “About Us” page.


EARLY IMAGES

Here are the very first images from Belgian Beer Journal:


MILESTONES FOR BELGIAN BEER JOURNAL

FIRST BREWVIEW (WAS CALLED BEER REVIEWS BACK THEN)
Westmalle Trappist Dubbel- Posted October 10, 2013

FIRST WEBSITE FOLLOWER – September 25, 2013
Christopher Barnes of “I Think About Beer”

FirstWordpressFollower

Our friend, Certified Cicerone and MBAA Beer Steward Christopher Barnes is the owner and prolific beer writer of I Think About Beer.com.

Christopher has been working on the front lines of the craft beer movement for over 13 years.  Our stories are similar… Christopher was also inspired to enter the beer business after reading his first beer book authored by none other than The Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson.

Mr. Barnes is now the Import and Specialty Beer Manager for Point Blank Distributing in the Portland, Oregon area. His expertise and vast knowledge of beer (Belgian beer in particular) makes him a well recognized individual in the Oregon and Belgian beer Scene.

FIRST JOINED FACEBOOK- September 24, 2013 | FIRST FACEBOOK POST- September 29, 2013
http://Facebook.com/BelgianBeerJournal

FIRST FACEBOOK LIKES

FirstFacebookLikes

Christopher Barnes was our very first Facebook like within a few days of Belgian Beer Journal joining Facebook! He’s been a fan of ours from the very beginning. We’ve mentioned him earlier in this article… just scroll up!

Our second like on Facebook very shortly after was from Kevin Desmet.

Kevin is the owner and writer of another excellent Belgian beer blog- BELGIAN BEER GEEK. Kevin lives in Wezembeek-Oppem, Belgium, a province of Flemish Brabant, ten kilometres east of the centre of Brussels. Kevin is very actively connected to the vibrant Belgian beer scene.

FIRST JOINED TWITTER- September 26, 2013  | FIRST TWEET- September 26, 2013
http://Twitter.com/BelgianBeerJrnl 

FIRST TWITTER FOLLOWERS

FirstTwitterFollowers

Tricia Carr (Twitter name- @concotologist) was our very first Twitter follower within a day. Her professional resume is quite impressive:

-Director of Mixology for Southern Wine and Spirits, Southern California

-United States Bartenders Guild So Cal Chapter -Treasurer 2014 – Present, President 2012 – 2014

-Host of  the web show “The Concoctologist” 

Her Twitter page currently has over 132,000 followers, and travels all over training professional and home bartenders how to concoct libations from a place of passion and thoughtfulness. Tricia’s website: http://concoctologist.com/

The Belgian Beer Company (Twitter name- @BelgianBeerCo) was our second Twitter follower shortly afterwards.

The Belgian Beer Company commenced in 2008 as a small family-run business selling Belgian beer glasses online to the general public. Since then, they have expanded their range and now sell a wide variety of world beers, specialising in Belgian beers. They also sell a great selection of flavoured Jenever gins, organic beers and ciders, specialist soft drinks, branded spirit glasses and beer gift packs.

The Belgian Beer Company’s aim is to provide excellent service to customers by selling a huge choice of high quality items at competitive prices. They dispatch daily and use custom packaging to ensure you receive your order in perfect condition. Their website: http://www.thebelgianbeercompany.com/

FIRST JOINED LINKED IN- October 9, 2013  |  FIRST LINKED IN CONNECTION- Jeffrey House
https://www.linkedin.com/in/belgianbeerjournal

I’ve known Jeffrey for 20 years now. I first met Jeffrey in 1994 while I was looking to truly find out what the business world of beer had to offer me. (Read the paragraph above titled “THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST BECKONS” on how we met). One of my favorite memories of spending time with Jeffrey was the time I was visiting his home in the Summer of 1994. By chance, I had found a six pack of Grimbergen Dubbel sitting inside a small poolside lifeguard stand. Jeffrey recalled that they had a pool party the Summer before, and told me the six pack I found was from that party! The six pack had sat outside through most of 1993’s Summer, it’s Fall, and Winter seasons. It also endured the 1994 Winter, Spring, and Summer of 1994, up to the moment I found it.

Circa 1993 mirror acquired from Thames America

The cardboard of the six pack was very weathered with the edges wrinkled and curling. The bottle labels were also weathered and faded. As I lifted a bottle to hold it up to the sunlight, it had HUGE chunks of yeast floating in the beer! We immediately opened up the bottle, and poured it into a proper Grimbergen open-mouthed goblet. Out poured this chocolate-brown colored, murky liquid. The chunks of yeast were very dark brown, some up to almost 1/2 inch in size! As I remember, the off white colored head poured a rocky 2-finger height with large and small bubbles. We compared it side-by-side to a fresh bottle of Grimberegn Dubbel. The aged, yeast-chunked beer (that had endured a year of sitting outside in extreme seasonal weather changes) actually tasted better than the younger! It had deep flavors of chocolate, toffee, and dark malts. The yeast flavors were incredible. Jeffrey advised me this was a testimony of how well Grimbergen beers were made. Afterward, he gave me the rest of the aged six pack to take home… 🙂

JEFFREY’S BIO

Jeffrey House was the man responsible for launching the strong cider movement in the United States three decades ago with his company Thames America, by importing Tauton Blackthorn Cider. As we mentioned above, Thames America also imported beers from Belgium and the UK. Jeffrey’s current company, (ACE CIDER) started 21 years ago with a vision to produce the best ciders on the market. The Ace Ciders have won numerous awards over the years, and are our favorite ciders to drink when we are not enjoying beer. There are 8 different ciders to choose from and are widely available across the USA- chances are you’ll find them at your local grocery store, beer shop, or favorite pub! Ace Cider’s website: http://AceCider.com

FIRST JOINED PINTREST- October 5, 2013  | FIRST PINTREST FOLLOWER- Karolaiina Parra
http://www.pinterest.com/belgianbeerjrnl/

Karolaiina Parra (Pintrest site- http://www.pinterest.com/kroparragan/) Was our first follower on Pintrest. Her Pintrest page is loaded with colorful pictures of food, fashion, marketing, home furnishings and more!

MAJOR CHANGES TO BELGIAN BEER JOURNAL ANNOUNCED ON JULY 27, 2014

I started Belgian Beer Journal with the vision of not only promoting all things Belgian beer (and Belgian-Style and Belgian-inspired beers), but I also wanted to highlight the cuisine that Belgium is so famous for. Unfortunately, that portion of our website didn’t receive the attention it deserved. So on our post titled “Important changes to BELGIAN BEER JOURNAL” we announced that the cuisine portion of our website was going to be discontinued, amongst other pages. (Read story) We decided to focus on BrewViewing. What’s that, you ask?

THE TERM “BREWVIEW” FIRST USED 

Up until August 11th, 2014, all of our BrewViews were simply known as “beer reviews.” The term came to me as a divine revelation during our work with Adelbert’s Brewery, promoting them as the BREWERY OF THE MONTH for August 2014. I remember the word “blueview” being used on a television program I was watching right before I was to try Adelbert’s THE TRAVELER Belgian-style IPA. It was a “review” that I was going to squeeze in- it was not part of their original BrewView line up. The word “blueview” stuck in my mind; and I coined the term “BREWVIEW”!

To read about our BREWERY OF THE MONTH page and service, click HERE
To read about our AUGUST 2014 BREWERY OF THE MONTH, click HERE


 SEPTEMBER 24, 2014: ONE YEAR LATER

As we celebrate our first year on the web, we are fortunate to say that our website has enjoyed great success and has fans from all across the globe who read our regularly posted “BrewViews.”

The scope of people come from all walks of society: Beer Geeks, Celebrities, Renowned Chefs, Brewing Companies, Beer Importers, Travel Bloggers, Politicians, Athletes, Beer Bloggers, Marketing Professionals, Television Personalities, Comedians, Students, Musicians, Auto Industry Professionals, Finance Professionals, Graphic Artists, Photographers, Social Media Pros, Retail Shops, Entertainment Professionals, Authors, Restaurateurs, News Stations, Publicans, Chocolatiers, Cheese Companies, Educational Professionals, and more.

One thing all of these people have in common: Their love for Belgian Beer! Today, the Belgian beer scene is infiltrating itself around the world. From a national campaign focused on reviving Belgium’s national beer pride, to scores of craft brewers outside of Belgium brewing the classic Belgian beer styles- many times with a modern (and very well received twist), these beers are still gaining popularity everywhere, with no end in sight.

BELGIAN BEER JOURNAL is excited to be a part of this global phenomenon. It was only a matter of time that the entire world would discover the greatness of the beers being produced by classic, time-tested breweries and new upstarts. It has been said that Belgium wanted to keep their beers a “secret”… not a chance!


THE FUTURE OF BELGIAN BEER JOURNAL

As the days, weeks, months, and years pass, one thing we believe is certain: THE TINY COUNTRY OF BELGIUM WILL DOMINATE THE BEER WORLD. See for yourself. As for us, we’re going to continue to ride this fantastic wave, and love every minute of it.

Our dreams and goals include the following:

-OUR OWN TELEVISION SHOW

-ONLINE RETAIL STORE WITH BRANDED GLASSWARE, GIFT BASKETS, AND MORE

-CATERING BUSINESS

-HOSTING BELGIAN BEER FESTIVALS, TASTINGS, DINNERS, ETC.

-STARTING A MICROBREWERY FOCUSING ON CLASSIC BELGIAN-STYLE ALES

-PLACE REVIEWS

…AND MORE

The past 365 days have been a blast! It has truly been a “labor of love” to bring you the very best BrewViews we can. You may have noticed, our tagline just changed from Exploring the World of Belgian Beer to Exploring the BELGIAN World of Beer. The reason why I decided to change it was because not all of the beers in the past year that we have BrewViewed have been from Belgium. However, they were brewed in a classic Belgian style or were Belgian-Inspired. So, there it is.

We’ve learned so much about the ever changing Belgian Beer scene, and that is this: If you fall asleep, you’ll miss out on the next best beer coming out of the newest artisanal brewery… With that said, we’re looking forward to meeting more people, trying new beers, BrewViewing some old favorites, and having fun along the way. We’re going to have a grand time in 2015 and beyond… won’t you join us for the ride?

Cheers!
Prost!
op uw gezondheid!
à votre santé!

 

Web: http://BelgianBeerJournal.com
Facebook: https://Facebook.com/BelgianBeerJournal
Twitter: https://Twitter.com/BelgianBeerJrnl
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/belgianbeerjournal
Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/BelgianBeerjrnl/

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