Worldwide, there are over 20,000 brands of beer, brewed in 180 different styles from ales and lagers to stouts and bitters. With so much variety, even the most eager connoisseur would be hard pressed to try them all, but this man might come close.
Jeff Evans began writing about beer in the 1980s, putting years of practical experience to good use. Since then he’s travelled the world and sampled offerings from the best breweries, writing books, columns and providing tasting notes for retailers along the way.
In 2009, he set up InsideBeer.com to consolidate his online presence. Jeff explains: ‘I decided to set up the website five years ago to complement the books I write and to augment the features I supply for various publications around the world.’
In 1990, he became Editor of CAMRA’s best-selling Good Beer Guide, and he’s also written The Book of Beer Knowledge and A Beer a Day for the same publishers. His acclaimed e-book, Beer Lover’s Britain, is currently available for Kindle.
Jeff continues: ‘I was finding that there was always more I could write about beer than was required by print media. I’d go on trips to the USA, Belgium, Czech Republic and other countries and only be able to use a small part of what I discovered. By setting up my own website, I could make full use of my beer travels.
‘Additionally, I could provide something that was lacking for web-users, namely a comprehensive, authoritative online resource about beer, a place where readers can go to find out the latest, breaking beer news, to learn about forthcoming events and festivals, to find reviews of new beers and new beer books, and to be pointed in the direction of the best beers and best pubs.’
Free and Open
Jeff also runs tutored tastings at food festivals and beer dinners, where people can get expert advice. He uses the site to advertise and promote these events, and he’s opted against the subscription model favoured by many SubHub users.
He says: ‘My initial thoughts were to run the site on a subscription basis, but I soon decided to make the site free and open. This allows me to target selected advertisers and build up a bigger awareness of the work I do.
‘Interaction with readers comes through Twitter and Facebook, rather than through the site itself, which is set up as ‘read-only’. I figured I could spend too much time reacting to comments if these were invited on every article and news piece I posted.
‘I was fortunate that, when I set up the site, I was already well known as a beer writer but the site has certainly consolidated my position at a time when the print media world has been in a state of change. It has also introduced me to new markets, particularly in Eastern Europe, where I’ve been commissioned to give numerous talks and seminars.’
Because Jeff was already known, site numbers were decent at the start but, as the brand Inside Beer has become more widely recognised, visitor numbers have increased substantially. He comments: ‘Of course, you have to work at this. Twitter use, in particular, is essential to driving up the numbers.
‘The great thing for me as a journalist is that there are no longer any boundaries. On Inside Beer, I write what I want to write and not just what a magazine editor wants to commission. That, for a writer, is particularly liberating.’
If you’re looking for inspiration or tips for your own site, take a moment to browse Inside Beer and you could even sign up to Jeff’s free newsletter.