From a position of weakness just a couple of years ago, when there was only the longstanding ALL ABOUT BEER and one additional homebrew mag, craft beer now has two additional published print voices, both aiming for their own demographic slice of the expanding pie. There’s BEER ADVOCATE, of course, a magazine wholly catering to the self-defined “beer dork”, and one of the best modern reads about beer you’re going to find. Now there’s DRAFT MAGAZINE, which promises “Life On Tap”. I succumbed to a cheapo subscription before I’d read a single word, because that’s just how far and how deep my addiction has gone. If I had to do it over again, I shan’t have bothered.
DRAFT belongs to the un-rarified strata of journalism known as “Men’s Publishing”. Because beer is a beverage most often associated with the male gender, the publishers of this periodical believe that many male-related topics, no matter how loosely connected to beer, can fall under the heading of “life on tap”. What’s a male-related topic? How about foosball? Fishing stories – “the one that got away”! A world travel article called “Top Ten Places To Drink A Beer” – number one is Machu Picchu, baby! Unfunny 1970s comedian Leslie Neilson. “Seafood and Beer”. An article on tequila. An essay on leisure. Oh, and the occasional drift into something that might be useful, like a review of a new beer or something, or some tips on breweries to visit in San Diego, all delivered in a glossy, effusive, big-bucks, heavy-advertising manner. Now me, I’ve got no quarrel with someone trying to build a brand or make a buck. I don’t even mind them doing so on the back of one of my precious “hobbies”, as it were. But at least have the decency to build around your subject matter in an informed and interesting way, not as though you’re first grasping at straws to ape the worst tendencies of men’s magazines (minus the babes), and THEN connect it back to craft beer (!). Somehow I don’t think this scatterbrained approach is going to pan out, not with Beer Advocate and yes, All About Beer “tapping” into the craft beer audience so much better. I give the magazine less than a year in circulation, tops.