I've always described my blog as a garbage scow of information--you'll find some treasures and some rubbish, but it's a theme-free jumble. Actually, that's not entirely true. If anything unites the content here, it's my proclivity for finding a tiny thing and writing a thousand words on it. It's what I like. One thing I noticed in looking through the top posts of the year is that readers tend to respond to the same posts. I'm slightly embarrassed by my top traffic post of the year--keying off the idea, other people took the subject to far more interesting places--but the second-most popular post was my favorite of the year. That post could become the coda to what I've learned writing about beer over the last five years. It's incredibly reassuring to know that people like reading, more or less, the same posts I like writing.
So here are the top click-getting posts of the year. (I quite liked the last post, so it's a top-11 list.) I don't expect anyone to click around much--I know these year-end posts are mostly ways to fill up space in the absence of news--but I do think there's some decent content there. If you missed one of these, give it a look.
- GABF Analysis: Five States Won Half the Medals (5,851 clicks)
- Zen and the Art of Appreciating Simple Beers (4,535)
- How the Word "India" Came to Mean "American" (4,341)
- The Goose Island Challenge (4,275)
- When Naming Goes Awry (4,112)
- Cider Saturday: How Angry Orchard is Made, an Interview with David Sipes (3,280)
- A Brief Primer on Czech Lagers (3,205)
- A Bomber Bubble? (2,673)
- A Hoppy Ale to Rule Them All (2,238)
- Introducing "Hop Bursting" (Part 1, History) (2,234)
- Big Brewers Making Specialty Beer: Lessons from MillerCoors (2,080)
- Zen and the Art of Appreciating Simple Beers. The title mostly captures what the post is about, but there's an element of appreciating any beer in it, not just simple beer.
- A Brief Primer on Czech Lagers I am not the best tribune for Czech beer, but because of the staggering dearth of information (in English) about the world's greatest drinking country, I do my best to spread the news.
- Introducing "Hop Bursting" (Part 1, History) and Hop Bursting, Part 2 (How the Brewers Do It). Delving into a relatively new brewing technique. This is the kind of content I think blogs were designed to deliver; it's hard to do them in any other medium.
- Big Brewers Making Specialty Beer: Lessons from MillerCoors. I went to a tasting of the various small, specialty brewers under the MillerCoors umbrella and learned a ton about the chasm between the way big and small breweries make and sell beers.
- How the Word "India" Came to Mean "American." A slightly controversial post in which I posit that the word India/Indian, when seen on a beer label in Portland, Prague, or London, essentially means "really hoppy in the American mode."
- In Herefordshire. This post came from my cider research trip to Europe, and I might have selected any posts from that series--but because I landed in Herefordshire first, my experience and the resulting post was the most vivid.
- Style Ontology and the Everyman Rule. Beer geeks spend a lot of time obsessing over style, and I proposed a way of checking our instinct to roam too deeply in the weeds.
- Full Disclosure. My explanation of how I wrangle with the tension between brewery freebies and journalistic independence.
- Beer Sherpa Recommends: Elysian Bramble On Saison. Reviews are mostly not interesting to people, and yet, I think it's important to continue to periodically put our critical apparatus to use in judging beer. Beer Sherpa Recommends gives me a way of looking at a beer and a style more deeply. I'm enjoying them and hoping others are, too.
- When Craft Becomes a Commodity. It's not hard to imagine the rise of faceless "craft" beer sold, like mass market lagers, as commodities rather than crafted products.
- The Ease of Misunderstanding Czech Beer. An echo of my favorite post of the year, but focused on the greatest brewing country few Americans know.
- I Have a Minor Complaint: The Bombers Are Too Damn High and There are No Good Arguments For Overpaying. This couplet demonstrates another reason why blogs are still relevant: you can delve into a topic deeply and curate a good discussion. Social media will never be especially good at it. Here, the very debatable premise was: 22 ounce beers are priced to gouge customers.
I'll see you next year. Everyone stay smart and safe tonight--
Update. Responding to this post, both Stan and Alan listed their top-ever posts as measured by the algorithmists in Mountain View. For what it's worth, mine are below. I think there's some randomness to all-timers like these, in that some large outlet must have linked to them at one point and goosed the stats. I don't know that you can take much away from the list per se (the third-highest was an April Fool's post). Anyway, here it is: