Wayne: People are obviously envious when you can say “I drink beer for a living”. But I know there is more work to it. What does your typical day look like as a beer reviewer and writer?
Ken: The longer summary is “I drink beer and write about it at often godforsaken hours for a living.”
Which is still pretty great.
With the All About Beer position, I’m currently spending most of my 9–5 hours developing magazine content, coordinating beer shipments to our different offices, and working with our festival operations side. A couple afternoons a week I’ll usually head out of the office early and take some tasting notes up at BeerCraft in Rohnert Park or TAPS in downtown Petaluma. A lot of my other hours and weekends are spent knocking out other deadlines: setting up interviews, researching articles, keeping track of beer release calendars, etc.
Two key points: (1) anyone making a living writing about beer is working their butt off, and (2) no one will (or really should) ever feel bad for them.
Wayne: Tell us about how you started making a living “drinking beer”?
Ken: There certainly wasn’t a clear path to get here. I’m hugely grateful to be one of the few folks who actually gets paid to do beer reviews regularly. But I mean, looking back, I started by doing my MFA in creative writing and blogging and, like most freelance writers, just pitching articles and writing crap for years before actually finding any sort of real audience.
My wife and I put out a regional beer guide to Northern California [also with author Ken Grossman who is founder and owner of Sierra Nevada and also author of Beyond The Page: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co) a few years back, and that certainly helped my career trajectory. My wife’s been immensely supportive through all of the ups and downs of this stuff, and I think most folks who strike out into the freelancing world either have a hefty savings set aside or, just as often, a very forgiving spouse.
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