Five Years, 300 Posts, and 1000 Beers – Part 1

If you do something you enjoy long enough, every now and then an interesting intersection of events will occur. That happened last month when, not long after getting my notice from WordPress that I had survived reached my fifth year anniversary, I was going through my insights and noticed that my next post (this one) would be my 300th!

spa

NOPE! None of that! That’s waaaaay to easy.

I’m not going to lie (this time I’m not), this being my 5th year is a little bittersweet since as I look back I see that I haven’t been keeping up my posting rate this year as I have in the past – and I didn’t really have to look back to know that. The reasons for this decline are various and I thought I’d talk a bit about that, but after running several possible explanative paragraphs through my head I realized that none of that really matters to anyone but me.

Instead, I would much rather focus on some of the positive highlights of the past year (and a year or two leading up to it) especially in the arena of things I never thought I’d find myself doing when I started this blog.

I started out wanting to write a generic beer blog with touches of food, lots of reviews and a big helping of humor. Over the years, I learned that many readers who gravitated to my blog weren’t overly interested in that (or maybe in fairness they were trying to tell me that I wasn’t doing as good of a job as I thought I was).

It wasn’t until I realized that no one was really focusing on the explosive beer scene that is Delaware and turned my attentions towards it, that this blog started to take off (well ‘take off’ is relative, but remember my initial goal was not to quit after six months with nothing more to say).

BloggingCartoon5

What I found out (quite by accident) is that the people who were coming to my blog seemed to be more interested in the local beer scene and by extension, anything newsworthy that might be happening in it, than they were about another by-the-numbers review of a beer from Stone or Sierra Nevada.

Don’t get me wrong, the reviews were getting read but you could definitely tell that there was an elevated interest in what was going on, both good and bad, in the local beer scene.

When people kept tossing around the Brewer’s Association’s factoid that Fordham/Dominon was owned 51% by industry giant AB-INBev I decided to find out the truth and found myself interviewing FoDo CEO Jim Lutz about that very issue.

I’m no where near as comfortable with interviews as I am other aspects of the blog, but that initial discussion with Jim encouraged me to reach out to more people over the past year including Jeremy Hughes about the growing Odessa Brewfest , BBQ Competition organizer Sandy Fulton as to why New Castle BBQ competition’s buck-a-bone promotion never quite got off the ground and Mike Stiglitz about why his Two Stone Pubs in Delaware had to be re-licensed as brewpubs.

'By the way, is this off the record?'
Fun Fact! I’ve been told something was off the record three times. But that’s off the record.

The other thing I never envisioned when I started this blog was publishers reaching out to me with offers of advanced copies of beer and brewing related books. I’ve built a nice collection thanks to some very generous publishes and I’m currently trying to find enough time to finish Jeff Alworth’s The Beer Bible and hope to post a review when I do.

But it was when Arcadia Publishing reached out and asked if I wanted an advanced copy of John Medkeff Jr’s Brewing in Delaware for review that I was really quite taken aback with a “what? really?” feeling. The experience gave me the courage to actually request (and receive) an advance copy of Tony Russo’s Delaware Beer: Brewing in the First State

While this last year may have been short on posts, it was certainly not short on milestones; many as I’ve stated being things I never thought I’d be doing when I began this journey.

In the future? Hopefully more of these types of posts, plus a few food related topics like BBQ or pizza, and a sprinkle of pop culture. Oh, and reviews will be back, promise. Delaware is producing some amazing beers at the moment and I want to spread the word to beer lovers out there that Delaware is much, much more than just Dogfish Head (nothing but love for you DFH but come on, everyone knows who you are).

With Respects and Apologies to Berke Breathed
With Respects and Apologies to Berke Breathed

And the humor will still be here, well what passes for it here at least.

As always I want to thank every one who has taken the time to talk to me, especially the brewers and the owners who are willing to take so much of their valuable time to talk to a guy who merely writes about beer in a small mom and pop blog. I want to thank everyone who’s ever taken time out of their busy day to read something I’ve written, especially those who have taken the time to comment or share it forward.

And of course, thanks to Tracey who I can assure you at no time in her life before she met me did she think she’d be spending so much time at beer festivals or breweries. But between you and me, I think she gets a kick out of the people who now come up at events to say hello to her.

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And of course….

Buddy Avatar 50MORE ME!!!

 

Well, I wouldn’t say more, but yeah… he’s not going anywhere. Wouldn’t be the Dogs of Beer without him.

Coming up next…Part 2, where I share some stories and thoughts about one of my favorite beers which is no longer available around here, Untappd, and the pitfalls of putting too much thought into that 1000th unique beer check-in.

Time for another beer.

2014 at The Dogs of Beer – Stealing Post Ideas From Other Bloggers.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to post a year-end review. I try to keep all that retrospective stuff confined to my yearly birthday post, since I look at the timing of this blog more in an elapsed, than a calendar way.

However, Bryan over at This Is Why I’m Drunk posted up a year end review for his blog where he wrote a month-by-month run down of the most popular posts from both a reader and personal perspective. Thinking, “Hey, that doesn’t look hard!” (especially since he didn’t add a lot of stats and trends to his) and really just waiting for the clock to hit 3 so I can go buy tonight’s champagne, I thought I’d do the same. Although I probably won’t get around to posting it until tomorrow…or maybe the day after. Hey, you knew what this was!

I posted 50 articles in 2014, which is horribly down from my previous two years. I feel lazy. Unproductive. I thought that’s what all my unfinished house projects were for.

As I look back over the blog, it would appear that I was slacking in the review department this year. I didn’t drink less beer. Trust. Just didn’t write as much about them I guess. I’m going to try to rectify that in 2015. What? Do or do not. There is not ‘try’? Yeah, you’ll fit in here just fine.

Of the posts that did make it up, there were many that I was very proud of, probably a couple that I should have been less so, and as is the case in this wacky world of WordPress, those weren’t always the ones my readers enjoyed the most. I’ll trust their judgement over mine.

It just goes to show you that you never know what might strike a chord with  your readers, or what might catch a slight case of virality on the interwebs. So how did the year shake out? Let’s review:

Oh, and if you don’t really care for the month-to-month break down, scroll down to see some other year end stats about this blog, including interesting countries that visited and the weird-ass things people typed into Google to find me.

JANUARY

I got the ball rolling in January with my new “monthly” series (said using his best John Oliver impersonation, “Well not every Month. We’ll be taking some months off.”) The Full Moon Post. The idea was to tie in the spiritual changing of the seasons with the seasonal cycle of beer. Add a dash of culture observances, pagan traditions, and some astronomy and you have it.

The series was well received (I’m still trying to decide how, or even if, it will be back next year) but it was my January review of The Kennett Brewfest that received the most views that month. This goes to show that local readers are just crazy about this festival, as it had been held back in October and still people were interested enough to click on it.

FEBRUARY

February was probably one of my favorite months as far as posting is concerned because it was here that I wrote the story about Bill Coleman contacting me with the background story of his dog, Ludwig. Ludwig is the dog you see in my banner picture above, the sad looking dog with his chin resting on a bar.

Interviewing Bill and getting in contact with people who still work at the bar where the picture was taken and remembered Ludwig’s visits was the kind of story telling that makes blogging fun. But readers showed that they also are looking for information, even if I’m not the one to directly provide it.

I posted a press release that I received from Jenea Robinson at Visitphilly.com that listed a lot of great Philly beer events coming in 2014. Readers around here are always looking for the next big Philly beer event, and views to this post demonstrate that.

MARCH

March saw me ask where all the bloggers had gone (my most commented on post of the year), join in on my first Session post, and degrade people who drink green beer on Saint Paddy’s day. But the nod for this month doesn’t go to any post, no it goes to a page.

My Where To Fill Growlers in Delaware page is one of the most clicked on elements of my blog. I receive a constant stream of views on it, and I’m glad that it’s providing useful information to those who live in, or are visiting Delaware.

APRIL

April shows that it’s not just all straight-forward craft beer that people are interested in. My most viewed post that month was my review of Crabbies Ginger Ale that came about when Crabbies’ US rep Jennie Hatton asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing it.

On a personal note, April saw the ushering in of a new Editor. And I’ve been living with that decision all year.

MAY

The Brew Dogs came to my town to film scenes for an episode of their show focusing on Delaware. They traveled the state, brewed a beer on a race track with Dogfish Head, and stopped by in Historic New Castle to film some scenes with Delaware’s 1st Regiment. This was a big deal in Delaware and searches concerning it led to the post being my most viewed in May as well as one of my top viewed posts published in 2014.

JUNE

June was a good month as I actually posted a series (well two posts actually, but that’s probably as close to a series as you’re going to get from me) surrounding how often one of the thousands of beers we try actually becomes one of our regular go-to beers.

But it once again was Philly stealing the show as my posts on The Opening Tap Ceremony and A Day Spent in Philly during Philly Beer Week were by far the most viewed posts of the month.

We also celebrated our third year of blogging, although admittedly I waited until August to write about it.

JULY

I started a new series in July called Tasters, which is simply a collection of photos that I took (either for the blog or not) that I never used. Photos I think are nice enough to share with a little blurb, but not needing a large article on their own.

But this month was ruled by one of my favorite pieces this year, my reporting on the outing of craft beer brewer Pawtucket Pete’s being mostly owned by industry giant Duff Brewing. And it would seem that a lot of people were clamoring for the facts surround this news story as the post made it into my “Top Three” of 2014.

AUGUST

I finally got around to posting about this blog’s birthday, and gave a report on our trip to Salem Massachusetts. But it was here that I was starting to notice the building readership of my Full Moon Posts, as August’s made it to the top of the month’s view count.

SEPTEMBER

September proved that local beers (and big name brewers) still pull a lot of traffic to my blog. Although I wrote a very nice run down of the first Annual Odessa Brewfest, it was my review of DFH’s American Beauty that pulled in the most readers. In fact, it was one of the most read reviews in 2014, behind only my review of The Bruery’s Six Geese a Laying, back in January.

OCTOBER

A quiet month for the Dogs of Beer. As always I took the last two weeks of the month off to focus 100% on the up coming Halloween night. And although I did manage to post a nice interview with 2013 Delaware Homebrew Champion Russell Kalbach just weeks before defending his crown at the 2014 Delaware Wine and Beer Festival, October proved that sometimes an active post is created when you simply write about a topic that many people are interested in.

In my October Full Moon post I wrote about the ‘rare’ occurrence in my area known as Selenelion, the act of being able to see an eclipsing moon setting as the sun is rising. Reports of the event were all over the place, and people were trying to find out as much information as possible.

The post went crazy, becoming my #1 post for single day views (by a lot), #1 viewed post written this year and my #2 post viewed this year from everything I’ve ever written (my Beer in Movies – The Shawshank Redemption still crushes in page views every year. Every time TNT tosses it on for a weekend mini-marathon, boom).

NOVEMBER

My review on Evil Genus’ Trick or Treat topped the view list for November. Not really much else to say about that except I guess I do need to get back to writing more reviews in 2015.

DECEMBER

Not much time for these posts to make a huge impact. In fact, I was pretty light in December. Still I did managed to post some annual Christmasy stuff and thangs, but the second post in my Taster’s series took the month’s title for sure.

And so there you go. Here’s a few more interesting facts –

The five most active people on my blog were: G-Lo (Booze Dancing), Scott (Beerbeque), Oliver (Literature and Libation), Vegan’s Husband and Bryan (This is Why I’m Drunk). Thanks guys! Your readership and comments are much appreciated.

Ninety countries visited my blog – the ones I found most interesting: Myanmar(?), Cote d’Ivoire(The Ivory Coast) and Bangladesh. I hear North Korean has been attempting to read my blog, but apparently they’re having trouble with their internet or something.

And finally, one of my favorite things to look at every year – the funniest search terms used to find this blog:

“saint patricks day star wars
“fattest woman or men in the world guoness break reorder”
“can a dog be out on the day of eclipse”
“bitches with fishes that i can post on facebook
“pics of a clown taking a dump” (this was used three times!)

So there you have it – a (not so) brief run down of the year in review. I look forward to 2015, and hope you’ll all come along for the ride.

Cheers!

Ryan Seacrest ain't got nothing on me!
Ryan Seacrest ain’t got nothing on Buddy!