Return on investment

On Sunday, I had an unexpected windfall.  A few months ago, we’d made a particularly excellent batch of Fresh Hop Pils and delivered it to a craft beer place on the South Shore.  This Fresh Hop Pils is really and truly tasty.  A consequence of this is that it sold really well.  And given that we had so little of it, we had no kegs left for ourselves.  No Pils for the brewers!  Well, the windfall is this:  Some beer geeks (beer dicks?) went into this place on the South Shore and did some scratching and sniffing and convinced the bar owner that something was off in the beer.  Reportedly these beer geeks (definitely dicks) found something amiss with the beer.  What could I do?  I gladly drove down on my Sunday “off” and replaced the “bad” keg of Fresh Hop Pils with something different – free of charge, of course.  So in my possession, I have one unsellable keg of Fresh Hop Pils because it took these dicks a couple of gallons to arrive at their negative sensory evaluation.  And a partial keg can’t be resold.  Thus, tonight, I’m relaxing with a delicious glass of Fresh Hop Pils.  Not a single flaw in the beer at all.  Their loss.  I feel sorry for the poor bar owner who is incapable of making his own judgements about the beer he sells.

After finishing up my work today, I had a long chat with Alice about what I should do this year.  Not that I expected Alice to tell me, but I find it helpful to have a good chat and see if any of my crazy ideas make sense to anyone other than myself.  What was rattling around in my head was the words “return on investment.”  I’d read Christopher Dobens’ farewell post on his Total Footblog today.  He’s throwing in the towel.  He says writing about soccer hasn’t given him a good ROI.  Basically, he’s not been able to monetize his labor and as a result has become alienated from his product.  I know what he’s talking about.  I’ve been in those shoes and they aren’t comfortable.

A few years ago, I started writing (blogging) about craft beer.  I wasn’t all that interested in monetizing my efforts to maximize my ROI, as a result I spent a lot of time running around, drinking some excellent beer, visiting some really great breweries, brewpubs, and taprooms, and all I have to show for it is a protruding midsection.  And some good memories too.  Memories I’ve recorded in four “beer novels.”  I asked Alice if I should just publish the other three and get it over with.  First I published my Long Island Beer Guide and that sold about 150 copies.  Good, I thought.  I’ve got an audience.  So I followed that up with my first beer novel, A Year in Beer, which flopped: 4 copies sold.  I had to give the rest away to friends who were polite enough to not to refuse my offer.  “You didn’t promote it,” said Alice.  How could I promote it? I thought.  I don’t have a self-promoting bone in my body.

“At least you could put a sample up on your web site,” she said.

Good idea, I thought.  But how will people find it?  (If you build it, they will… no probably not.)  Despite my natural pessimism about ever finding readers in quantities which can be numbered on the fingers of more than one hand, I figured revamping the web site was long overdue in any case.  So I got fair start tonight.  Instead of reading, which is what I normally do on a Thursday night (when there isn’t an MLS match).  Well, I’ll still read.  With my glass of Fresh Hop Pils freshly topped up, I’ll reach for a good book.  Probably a book about real football, the sort of football that isn’t played with the hands.

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