In which, in an unprecedented display of self-indulgence, I conduct my own Exit Interview.
AG: Hi Alice
BFAY: Alice, hi!
AG: It’s a bit sad that I’m interviewing you for your final post, isn’t it? Weren’t there any journalists that wanted to do it?
BFAY: Probably loads – I think perhaps too many of them were trying to call me at once and might have jammed the phone.
AG: Uh… Sure. OK so – it’s been three weeks since you finished the blog. Have you been missing it?
BFAY: Not really – I’ve been keeping myself busy, going for runs, having meeting with people about various projects…
AG: I know for a fact that’s a goddamn lie.
BFAY: *visibly breaking down* Alright alright – I miss it OK? I miss the interaction with strangers on the internet, I miss the occasional free beer parcels, and I miss the sense of purpose that BFAY bought to each day. It’s actually been really tough… *sobs*
AG: Get a hold of yourself, woman. Now – 365 beers in 365 days – what were you thinking? Why the hell did you do it?
BFAY: Good question, Alice. I started Beer for a Year for two main reasons; one was basically to learn about/contribute to/become involved in the New Zealand craft beer scene – which is something I’d been excited about ever since my first Beervana – and the other was to practice writing. The reason I did the 365 days thing, apart from just seeming like a fun challenge, was because I knew I’d never keep up the blogging if I didn’t impose some deadlines on myself. See how it’s taken me three weeks to write this final post, and even then I had to ask Twitter for a deadline? Yeah…
AG: Writing reviews on the internet about something you know nothing about is a sure-fire way to get your ass kicked. Did you?
BFAY: Mercifully, the breweries and beer community were very good humoured about my so-called “reviews”. I was never trying to tell people which beers were good and which weren’t, I was just trying to share my (sometimes poorly recalled) personal experiences. I guess they were reviews, but I don’t think people read my blog because they wanted advice on which beer to drink. I think they mostly read it because it was a ridiculous thing for anyone to be doing and (hopefully) a bit entertaining to watch.
AG: You got to know some of the brewers over the year… Was it hard to write negative things about their beer?
BFAY: It was really hard to write anything negative about anyone’s beer, except for those gigantic companies that would be unlikely to see it. One thing I realised over the year was just how bloody hard it is to make it as a craft brewer, and it always made me feel squirmy to think of these people who I really respect reading my negative comments.
That said, I always tried really hard to be honest. I never said I liked a beer I didn’t, although I did often add “Maybe on a hot day”-type disclaimers. I never wanted to say a beer was bad, because beer tasting is subjective. And we all know I enjoyed that chilli beer that rated 0/100 on Ratebeer… So who am I to judge?
AG: Did becoming familiar with the breweries change the way you viewed their beer?
BFAY: That’s a bit complicated, but the short answer is yes. Each brewery has a distinct “personality” in my mind, and these became increasingly well-defined as the year progressed. I tried to fight it, but the more I knew about a brewery the more preconceived ideas I had about what the beer would taste like. Basically, I tried hard to be objective, but know I would have thought of some beers differently if I’d tasted them blind.
AG: What were some of the best beer style discoveries you made over the year?
BFAY: You know, I didn’t even know what an IPA was before I started this blog, so almost every beer style was a new and exciting discovery. Lambics, barley wines, saisons, imperial stouts… They’re some of my favourite styles now and I’d never even heard of them! When I think about it, I was barely even living before I started this blog.
AG: Tell us about your struggles with alcoholism and obesity.
BFAY: Sure. Basically I tripled in size, and by the end of the year I needed at least three barley wines just to get out of bed. *Laughs*. No no, I jest. I’m actually fine – because one beer a day is not that much. I probably did overdo it on several occasions, and that’s an unavoidable part of having beer as a hobby. You go out to bars like Hashigo Zake and you want to try everything, so you do, and next thing you know you’re waking up naked in the bucket fountain with “Yeastie Girl” tattooed on your forehead.
AG: Favourite beer?
BFAY: I’m pretty sure we agreed that you weren’t allowed to ask me that.
AG: OK, this interviewing yourself thing is frankly getting a little too creepy, so we’re going to field some questions from Twitter now…
@Beans_Hops: What was your biggest challenge in keeping it going for 365 days?
BFAY: Definitely finding the time and motivation to write the posts. Finding and drinking the beer was so easy, but sitting down and forcing myself to write – especially if I was a bit tipsy or having a bad or busy day – was hard. Naturally, there were some pretty poor posts that reflected that. *cringes in remembrance of some of said “poor posts”*
@greigmcgill: Has beer / the project led you to change any previously held beliefs, beer-related or otherwise?
BFAY: One of the biggest thing the blog taught me was to try and let go of any previously held beliefs about beer. I started the year thinking I hated wheat beers, fruit beers (I can’t beleive I ever said that!) and lagers, and tried examples of all three that I loved. I decided at one point that I didn’t like hops any more, only to change my mind with my next IPA. What the blog taught me was that I should take each beer as it comes and try to keep an open mind.
@kyhwana: What was the worst beer?
BFAY: That’s a toss-up between Budweiser, which was just so horribly bland, and Lemon-lime Sol – which literally tasted like poison.
@thesadshow How much did it cost you, and could I do it on a salary of under $100,000?
BFAY: I reckon I probably paid for about 2/3rds of the beer myself – the rest came from breweries and my parents – and at an average of $9 each that would make it just over $2000. My salary is well under $100,000, but I’m also a reckless 26-year-old with no real overheads. Are you thinking about doing it? Do it!
@RosalindAymes What are you doing next?
BFAY: Oh Kate, I wish I had a satisfactory answer to that. I have a few ideas up my sleeves for other non-beer blogs (both slightly odd and food related), and for non-blog projects, but I don’t imagine I’ll be inflicting any more marathon-style challenges on myself for a while. I do hope that I can write more about beer in future, but it won’t be a blog. I’ve already done the best beer blog I can.
AG: Aaaand back to me. Of the 365 beers you drank, roughly 200 of them were made in New Zealand. How do you feel about the quality of New Zealand beer overall? How does it stand up internationally?
BFAY: I’m not big on patriotism – but my god, I am so bloody proud of our beer. Most of my favourite beers that I drank over the year were made in NZ, and I seriously think we’re one of the best “beer countries” in the world. That’s incredible considering how small we are, and how relatively new the market for craft beer is. Imagine what the future holds? World domination probably!
AG: And finally, the question on everybody’s lips: Did you get sick of beer?
BFAY: Truly, I never got sick of beer because it never stopped surprising me. That’s what’s so bloody exciting about it – no two beers are the same, and there are an infinite number of different ways a beer can taste. Especially now that brewers have abandoned the dreaded Reinheitsgebot. I never got the sense that I had “clocked” beer, and I doubt I ever will.
AG: Studies show that online readers have an attention span of about 3 seconds, so there’s no way anyone will still be reading this. Still, is there anything else you want to add?
BFAY: Just a final thank you to everyone who read the blog, and a promise that I won’t be abandoning the craft beer community as soon as I’ve hit “Publish”. As Sam Possenniskie commented on post #365, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”