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!

 

Saturday Explodes at tDoB with Interest about The Shawshank Redemption

Weirdness.  Plain Weirdness.

Saturday was like any other Spring weekend day here at the DoB.  Usual stuff.  Getting the kitchen clean from Friday’s fun.  Staring out the window wondering if today was the day to fire up the lawn mower for the first time.  Wondering how long I should wait before I open the first beer of the day.

And like most weekend days, there came a time when I absent mindlessly opened the WordPress app on my phone to  check my stats.  I do it a handful of times throughout the weekend, more out of reflex than anything else because weekends tend to be slow as far as page hits are concerned.

So I clicked the few buttons that get me to the stats screen and was shocked at what I saw.  The bar graph was empty except for one, singular column of blue.  Well not empty, it turned out that the one bar was so large that it reduced the others to mere thin lines at the bottom of the graph.  I had a momentary jolt of excitement thinking that someone had retweeted one of my posts, or that a brewery that posted one of my posts on their Facebook page.  It happens occasionally, and when it does I usually get a nice spike of hits.  But then I saw the number – 2868 views.  What?

So turns out, some internet bot (my son’s thought), some college film classes, or a small town, needed to find The Shawshank Redemption movie poster.  By the end of the day, Yahoo Image Search had referred to my post Beer in Movies – The Shawshank Redemption, 2,946 times.  The post ended the day with 2,950 views – although WordPress only counted 21 visitors to my site.

My Stats are now totally boinked because this one day is blowing everything out of proportion.   I’ve already well exceeded my target monthly  page views, which would be fine except I know that these views are probably hollow in nature.  Oh well, first world blogging problems.

Anyone else ever have something like this happen?
Anyone else ever have something like this happen?

Beer in Movies – The Shawshank Redemption

Movie Poster for “The Shawshank Redemption”

This past weekend I got caught by what I call the “6 or 7 film barrage”.  That’s where a TV channel will take a film and show it at least 6 or 7 times over a span of several days.  The pattern will usually go something like this, once on Thursday, once on Friday, twice on Saturday, and twice on Sunday, sometimes with one more broadcast tossed in somewhere for good measure.  On top of that, one of the days where they broadcast the movie twice, it will be shown back to back.  The movie this weekend was Frank Darabont’s  The Shawshank Redemption.  After stumbling across it several times channel surfing, I finally landed upon it at it’s begin and decided to give it a re-watch (I guess that’s part of the network’s master strategy, toss it at you enough times and sooner or later your resolve will break down) even though I’m not usually a fan of the cuts and edits network TV will normally do to films.

Released in 1994, The Shawshank Redemption tells the story of an intelligent banker named Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) who is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, and sentenced to 2 life terms in Shawshank prison.  Once there, he meets Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) with whom he begins a friendship with along with Red’s circle of inmate friends.  The movie is filled with themes of man’s attempts to find hope and dignity in an impossible situation; which Andy finds himself in when he’s pulled into service by Warden Samuel Norton who uses Andy’s expert banking skills to launder money Norton is receiving for using the prison inmates as skilled labor in the public sector.

The movie has a couple elements that make the it note worthy.  First, it was based on a novella by Steven King entitled, “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” that was published in his 1982, “Different Seasons” collection.  Also the movie began what I call, “the Morgan Freeman” narration.  The scenes of the movie are tied together by a voice-over performed by Freeman’s character Red.  Freeman’s deep, non-wavering voice throughout the movie has become iconic and has been parodied on everything from TV commercials to Family Guy.

One of my favorites however is Clancy Brown who, as Chief of the Guards Captain Hadley, delivers one of the best profanity laden performances in a movie by a non Drill Sergeant character.

The movie  benefits from a stellar cast.  Robbins and Freeman are both excellent in their respective rolls, and Bob Gunton is superb as Warden Norton.  One of my favorites however is Clancy Brown who, as Chief of the Guards Captain Hadley, delivers one of the best profanity laden performances in a movie by a non Drill Sergeant character. Sadly, you miss out on this on network TV as most of Brown’s tirades are either cut or overdubbed.  The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for seven Academy Awards including best picture and best actor (Freeman) but sadly went home with none having been over shadowed that year by Forrest Gump.

As I mentioned, a common theme through the film is man’s constant struggle to find dignity in the brutal environment of prison.  This theme is very well depicted when, tarring the roof of one of the prison buildings, Andy over hears Hadley bemoaning to the other guards about a large sum of money he’s just come into and how the I.R.S is going to take a large portion of it.  Andy informs him (while Hadley is about to push him off the roof for ease dropping) that he can keep all the money tax free if he gifts it to his wife.  This exchange really shows off cinematographer Roger Deakins at his best.  When Hadley pushes Andy against the edge of the roof the camera shot is over head looking straight down Andy’s back to the ground below.  The camera then pans over head and down behind Hadley, catching Andy in his first line of the shot and then swings around along side the two for a dialog exchange and then ends behind Andy on Hadley’s face for his last line of the shot.  Andy offers to do the paper work to set up the gift for a price – three bottles of beer for each of his co-workers who are tarring the roof. The next scene shows Andy’s co-workers (and the guards) sitting on the roof of the building enjoying what Red’s voice tells us was, “…ice cold Bohemian style beer.”

“Bohemian style” beer, was (back in the time frame of the film) a common term used in America to describe pilsner beer.  Pilsner gets its name from Pilsen, a city in Bohemia which is in today’s Czech Republic. Brewers in the city of Pilsen started producing beers with bottom fermenting yeasts rather than the more commonly used  top fermenting yeast and aging the beer in caves to produce a clearer, better quality beer.  The beer type can be considered the father of the early American lager beer as many of the beers initialed brewed back then (and still brewed today) came from a Bohemian style background and indeed, used the term “Bohemian” as a description.  The best example today is probably National Bohemian Beer (or Natty Bo, as it is known in the region) which has been brewed since 1885.  Another brand known for its Bohemian label is Stroh’s which started brewing in Detroit in 1850.  Other examples that have long since faded into time (or prohibition) are Knapp’s, Burger, Duluth, Weideman, Old Tap, Forest City, Prager, Dorf and Cooper’s out of Philadelphia

So which beer are the men supposed to be drinking on the roof ?  The movie never says.  But if you compare the images below, I think we can make a strong case for what the movie makers thought was Andy Dufrense’s  “bottle of suds” of choice.

Left and Center: Screen shots from Shawshank Redemption.
Right: Post 1950’s Stroh’s beer bottle label.

While The Shawshank Redemption might not be for all people with its hard look into prison life and rough language, I highly recommend it.  Its gripping story, excellent acting and Oscar nominated cinematography make it a definite American classic.  Just make sure you have some ice cold Bohemian style beer to go with the popcorn.

Time for another beer.