I was taking my morning stroll through the beer blogs of Sweden this morning when it struck me just what a huge amount of quality content is posted daily about the beers available to drink in this country.
If the number and standard of a country's beer blogs are in any way an indication of the health of that country's beer scene then this really is a 'gyllene tid' for Swedish beer lovers.
Being English (you guessed that right?) I’m a regular follower of several UK beer blogs - the likes of Pete Brown and Pencil & Spoon - who not only promote and educate with their well-written and researched posts but are also recognised by the UK beer industry as being an essential channel of information for its brands.
The British Guild of Beer Writers hands out an annual award for the best beer blog and best use of new media to promote beer; two awards that bestow a very definite sense of credibility to beer blogging in the UK.
Breweries also regularly supply the leading blogs with advance sample bottles, invite them to brewery tours and industry events. In other words they treat them like ‘proper’ beer writers.
Here in Sweden beer blogging has not yet reached anywhere near the level of recognition it attracts in the UK brewing industry. We have no Guild to recognise excellence in blogging and many of the players in the Swedish brewing industry are themselves taking their first tentative steps on the Net and in social media sites and so don’t yet grasp the importance of beer blogging in this country.
They don’t yet appreciate that bloggers are a powerful and direct link between their brands and their markets. Because bloggers are first and foremost passionate beer enthusiasts they write about what they think of a beer regardless of what brewery or importer it comes from. They tell it how it is – good, bad or downright ugly. This gives them authenticity and credibility to the growing number of surfers who visit their blogs every day to learn more about beer.
As the Swedish beer scene continues to develop and the number and quality of Swedish beer blogs increases perhaps it is now time for the Swedish beer industry to take more notice of the grass-roots contribution Swedish bloggers make to raise awareness of beer here.
Perhaps it is time that organisations such as the Svenska Ölfrämjandet, the Swedish Brewers Association as well as individual breweries and importers back an annual award scheme that recognises excellence in beer writing in this country?
In doing so they would create a powerful incentive to raise the standards of Swedish beer blogs even higher and at the same time add a sense of credibility to blogging as a genre.
This is not merely a ‘look at me, look at me’ child-like cry for attention from bloggers. I firmly believe that to promote beer successfully in this country we need to apply excellence to everything we do. That means excellence in brewing, excellence in serving beer and yes, even excellence in writing about it too.