Michael Kiser, the author of Good Beer Hunting (Jeff Cagle )
Updated, April 23, 2013: Good Beer Hunting has been named Saveur's Best Wine or Beer Blog. Cheers to that!
Chicago has a seemingly insatiable appetite for new breweries and beer festivals, so it's no surprise that the city's beer blogs are some of the best in the country.
Two Chicago-based blogs, Good Beer Hunting and Guys Drinking Beer, have been nominated for Saveur magazine's Best Food Blog Awards in the category of Wine or Beer Blog, making Chicago the best-represented city in that category.
"What it really tells me is that craft beer has finally earned its place at the table, certainly alongside wine," said Michael Kiser, a 34-year-old Ravenswood resident who is the author of Good Beer Hunting.
There's no competitive spirit here, though. The men behind both sites have nothing but admiration and praise for each other and fellow craft beer bloggers.
"In the three years we’ve been doing this, I haven’t met anyone that’s been anywhere close to a jerk," said Karl Klockars, a 33-year-old Lincoln Square resident who, along with Ryan Hermes and Andrew Flach, writes Guys Drinking Beer.
But the similarities between the two blogs end there.
Good Beer Hunting is updated less frequently—about once a week—and features photo-heavy, in-depth stories about the people and processes behind craft beer.
"In 2010, I really started thinking about it from a photographic perspective," Kiser siad. "That’s when something special started happening. People started reading stories that were bigger than just beer reviews. Accidentally, I found a niche."
After six years of blogging while also working as a full-time design and innovation consultant, the success of Kiser's blog, photography and design have allowed him to quit his full-time job and focus on being a creative consultant for breweries.
"I'm inspired by The New York Times and Atlantic Monthly," Kiser said. "I wanted to start telling the larger arc of the beer story."
Guys Drinking Beer has also found a niche, albeit one that's quite different from Kiser's site. Updated five or six times a week, Guys Drinking Beer reflects the diverse interests of its three authors and is especially focused on beer legislation and advocating for the craft beer industry.
"We’re already naturally dorks about this stuff," Klockars said. "You can see how laser-focused and legislative dorky we get."
Thanks to fellow Guy Drinking Beer Ryan Hermes, who works in radio in Springfield and sometimes live-tweets state hearings, the site has become a source for highly specific, sometimes vote-by-vote analysis of pending legislation.
Of course, there's a lot of fun stuff mixed in to keep casual readers happy.
"Now our role is kind of equal parts 'here’s beers that we’re drinking,' 'here’s news about distribution and homebrewing that you need to know' and 'here's cool stuff going on' " Klockars said.
Both Good Beer Hunting and Guys Drinking Beer have come a long way since they began in 2008 and 2010, respectively. What started as a way for beer fans to catalog and review the interesting beers they were drinking has grown into a full-time job for Kiser, and one pretty serious side hobby for Klockars.
"When we started, we were really kind of at the beginning of the huge movement," Klockars said. "We haven’t seen this top out yet. Not by any stretch of the imagination."
Voting for Saveur's Food Blog Awards ends at midnight on Friday and winners will be announced Tuesday.
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