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03-11-2014, 18:21
Visit the The Good Stuff site (http://goodfoodgoodbeer.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/the-good-stuff-whats-next/)

Times change. Many people said I’d struggle to keep a blog with a newborn baby, and I’m beginning to realise that they weren’t just joshing. But that’s just one part of the jigsaw which, ultimately, means that TGS as we know it will be wound down over the next few months.
Don’t panic yet though. Let me start at the beginning.
I started The Good Stuff a long, long time ago, and the change in the beer scene has been fuller*than I ever expected in those early days. Things that our (much smaller then) circle of drinking buddies used to talk about – acceptance of keg beer, sharper branding to bring in the ‘younger’ crowd (like us! they’re just like us!), an end to sexist (and, on occasion, mildly racist) artwork adorning beers, greater collaboration between brewers and communities, more choice in pubs and bars, inclusive beer festivals that appeal to men and women, young and old, greater links between our food and beer culture and an end to beer constantly being compared to wine have actually happened. It’s a great time to be a beer drinker – it really is – and I am happy to assert that blogs have contributed hugely to that. We’re the grass roots movement that*never*stopped banging the drum.
We’ve told the stories of the brewers operating at a level that means that they can’t advertise, and in many cases given free, vital feedback to new brewers that has helped them shape and hone their beers into real success stories. I’m not bragging here, either – I’ve been told this by many brewers over the years. Remember when the first Magic Rock artwork hit our screens, courtesy of Pencil & Spoon? Remember the first twissup? Remember BrewDog’s first bar, denuded of cask beer? Remember the first Independent Leeds Beer Festival, so small yet already swaggering with a feel of the new? I do, and much more besides. Beer Blogs documented*those events, dropped the pebble into the pond and watched the ripples flow outward.
We’ve come a long way.*
And with that, blogging is now the norm. Everyone has one, yet blogging*still remains a fantastic forum to share views and find out about beer. Beer Blogs have also provided the foundations for professional writers to build upon and use their considerable reach to bring beer to markets that bloggers just can’t reach; in fact, bloggers often canvassed for opinion see them end up in print media, with little or no credit. *Conversely, the spotlight now being shone by journalists on beer means quality writing about beer (and let’s fact it, that’s the key here) is now much more available. True, it’s early days, still – but it’s there. In my opinion,*some of the best beer writing over the last five years has appeared on blogs. There are some fantastic amateur writers out there.
Which brings me to The Good Stuff. Over the last few months, as I’ve raced to deadline to finish Great Yorkshire Bottled Beer, it became apparent that I simply did not have the time to create the quality or breadth of work that I wanted to read. Beer reviews may have become the bones of TGS but I’ve always intended to tell the story behind the beer – and that simply wasn’t happening. Increasing work pressures, paid*writing*commitments – and on top, a newborn baby – meant that I was simply stretched too thinly. I even felt, on occasion, that I was letting people down. You should never put out work that you’re not happy with, and I’ll be honest enough to say that I’ve trashed many, many drafts in a true ‘frustrated writer’ cliche this year.
Great Yorkshire Bottled Beer is out now and is*a fantastic sister publication to Great Yorkshire Beer, if I say so myself. I’ve managed to pull together Yorkshire’s first bottled beer guide, and it includes over 150 beers from over 60 breweries. It’s been a pleasure to work with all of our bottle-producing brewers, some of which have displayed such gusto for the project that you really can believe the much-maligned claim of ‘passion’ when it comes to brewing. It’s been a pleasure to work on and will be my beer-writing focus over the next few months.
In many ways, it caps off one part of a journey through Yorkshire Beer that I started when I set up this blog all those years ago.
So, in the weeks leading up to Rosa’s birth, I was pondering my place in the beer blogging world, and the beer community in general. The end of the line was looming, and I knew it. What next? The universe, as it often does, ended up answering the question for me.
I keep my personal life quite separate from the online one; not many people will know that I’ve spent the last 14 years working for a bank, then a major insurance company. I’m a manager of people, processes and projects and although it’s provided security, it doesn’t particularly interest me. So when the opportunity arose earlier in the year to transfer those ‘hard’ skills into beer and consider becoming General*Manager at Wharfe Bank Brewery (http://www.wharfebankbrewery.co.uk/), it caused pause for thought. A few weeks later, I accepted the post and will be changing career next week after serving a lengthy notice period over the last few months.
Martin Kellaway and his*team have some really interesting plans for Wharfe Bank’s progression over the next few years, and I’m looking forward to joining that team and helping the brewery*realise them. I’m also looking forward to contributing to the beer industry in Yorkshire rather than simply reporting on it.
So, in the end, the answer was presented to me. I don’t want to have my subjectivity questioned whilst talking about other brewers on here, so activity on TGS will slow right down. I still have Great Yorkshire Bottled Beer to promote, so there will be posts on here, but they will be specific to the book, rather than simply reports on what I have enjoyed that week, or something that’s cropped up for discussion that suits the audience here. I would never consider taking the blog down, as I’d like to think it still represents a useful archive. I’m sure writing inspiration will continue to strike in the next few months, anyway; the few people in the industry that I’ve spoken to in the last few weeks who work in a similar environment have all confirmed that, anyway.
It’s not the end for my beer writing. I have a couple of long-form projects that I still aim to explore and publish myself in the upcoming years. Self-publishing has progressed a lot in recent years, and in the time it will take for me do this , will progress even further. So I’ll still be around, lurking, as I have done for nearly eight years now. You won’t get rid of me that easily!
So – it’s not an end, but perhaps a new beginning. I’m looking forward to the next chapter, and I hope you guys are too. After all, it was you guys who made TGS what it became, and kept reading. Let’s see what happens next, shall we? Oh and I’m not the only one at it; BeerCast’s Richard Taylor has gone through a similar (in fact, spookily similar, right down the amount of years spent working and month changing career) journey this Autumn, and you can read about his new*role here (http://thebeercast.com/2014/10/change.html).
Leigh, November*2014.

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