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Beer Nut: 12 years of craft beers

Nov 30, 2015

Some parents dread their children entering their teen years. Buyt as my baby hits age 12 and thereby begins year 13, I'm doing nothing except celebrating. Of course my "baby" is this column, which this week celebrates its 12th anniversary. That means we are at column No. 625 and counting. And in some ways, 12 years is not that long at all; in other ways, it seems like a lifetime, When I started this column, George W. Bush was president. It preceded Hurricane Katrina and the Boston Red Sox' first championship. The biggest movie at the box office the week this column debuted in 2003 was "The Cat in the Hat" and the No. 1 song in the country was "Baby Boy" by Beyoncé. There were about 1,500 craft brewers in 2003. Now there are upward of 4,000. I guess I picked a good time to start this venture, as there hasn't been one downturn year since I began it. Actually, I didn't pick the time to start doing it at all. I had nothing to do with the idea outside of saying "yes" when I was asked to do it. My editors decided it was a smart move, even though only two other daily papers in the country had their own regularly published beer writers at the time. They made me the third one in the nation. I was thrilled, of course, because that meant a few hours of my work week would be spent drinking beer and writing about it. But I told them that I didn't want to be a beer reviewer, per se. I never wanted to put myself above the reader because as regular readers have seen me write over and over, taste is subjective. I simply wanted to describe the beers I write about to give readers a good picture of what to expect. And while there wasn't as much beer news back then as there is now, I also wanted to write about beer culture and trends and not just describe a beer each week. Because let's face it, you can find the random subjective opinions of what thousands of people think about beers on sites such as and, etc. And although my vision of this column has changed slightly over the years, it pretty much is the same as when I started: I want to write about beer, beer culture and beer news in an entertaining way that hopefully provides some information or thought-provoking opinion along the way. And while it has earned me the enmity of some folks in the craft beer community, I'm not afraid to challenge status quo beliefs about certain aspects of craft beer and beer culture. It's certainly not the hardest job in the world, but I'm still proud that I have never missed a week – even when I was on vacation. I've even filed stories while on holiday in Ireland – mainly because I could get some great Irish and British ales that I couldn't get here. One really great aspect of doing this column each week is meeting some of you when I'm out and about. I have actually made some very close friends just because they approached me and introduced themselves as fans of the column. While it's cliché to say it, I am sincerely humbled when people come up to me and tell me they love the column or thank me for turning them onto a new beer, etc. And I'm always amazed when I get emails from people who don't even drink for one reason or another, and go on to say they still read my column because it's a pleasure for them. Those might be my favorite letters of all. So thanks for sticking with me for these dozen years. Here's to writing about another dozen in 2027. Cheers.

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