Friday, April 27, 2007

THE ENTIRELY UNREMARKABLE DRAFT MAGAZINE

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.

9 comments:

Stan Hieronymus said...

Jay,

Looks like you will have another subscription opportunity coming up.

Beer Connoisseur promises to return at the end of 2007 or early in 2008. Not sure how it will be different than in the late 1990s, when it also was billed as a lifestyle magazine.

Can the return of the late, great BEER, The Magazine be far behind?

Rick said...

Jay - good stuff as always. I don't mind the mag because it clearly isn't for 'beer geeks' - but hopefully it can introduce those seeking entertainment to drink better beer. Who knows? Maybe not.

As for BA - wow. I don't know which I like least, BA or DRAFT. BA may have had that whole perception issue though for me, I just expected more than it has delivered so far. I have hope for both new magazines.

I still look forward to my AAB magazine more than any other magazine out there. Great info for those who are geeky about their love of beer.

Anonymous said...

Jay- gotta say I disagree- as a beer person, my thought is the more the merrier! I get to read more about my favorite pastime, and the more people that learn about it, the better chances I can actually get a decent beer when I go out.

I've been with AAB for a loooong time (don't want to date myself) but frankly, while its a good mag and I enjoy it, it can be a bit dry. I like it, and am not going anywhere, but I could use more. And a little panache wouldn't hurt.

I was pretty stoked when Beer Advocate announced they were joining the mix and I signed up immediately, but to be honest, I've been pretty dissapointed. It started in the right direction, albeit very late (which had me ticked off), but has turned into basically a pamplet with minimal real information, some obscure and sometimes mean reviews, and its more than half ads. What am I really getting out of it? Why did I pay for this?

Draft, I got to admit, has grown on me, and this is where I most disagree with you. They started in a hole for me- their first issue was really lacking in beer stuff. But I subscribed anyways, since I share your beer addiction, and to my surprise, the last few issues have been frankly awesome, leaving me thinking its about time for this. Maybe its not the most technical beer rag out there, but its got a ton of beer stuff, I get to read Charlie Papazian each month, their reviews are pretty spot on to my tastes, their beer and food stuff is the best out there (which is big for me), and yea, its got 'lifestyle' stuff, but most of it is pretty good, or at least entertaining.

Maybe I'm just not a big enough beer geek, but I want my beer info spiced up with some lifestyle, so long as it relates to enjoying a good beer. And of all of them, this is the one that I think has the best chance of being picked up by my friends that like beer but aren't as crazy as I am. And my Mom likes it, which is a plus :-)

If it brings some new folks into the fold, or at least awareness that there is some great beer out there beyond the Bud world, thats a good thing in my book.

Plus, I met the publisher and a few of their people at a festival in Oshkosh and talked to him for a while and he was a really good guy, which is worth big points in my book- its really just him and a few friends making it that hated their jobs and loved beer, and decided to give it a try.

Anyway, Draft gets my vote.

Anonymous said...

Jay, after reading your comments all I can say is you need a beer.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me...Draft isn't even a magazine, it's a high school journalism class project that tries to plagarize the ideals (or lack thereof) of Maxim Magazine wrapped in a six pack of Bud Light.

Anonymous said...

Draft Magazine’s website certainly has a huge amount of spelling mistakes. Check this page out...it will astound you:
http://www.draftmag.com/beertowns/2/
I also found a great deal of spelling mistakes in the actual publication including the word "avaiable." Even the spell checker on this forum caught that mistake. You’d think that one could expect a little bit more from what claims to be a legitimate publication.

Sincerely,
Concerned SpellChecker

Anonymous said...

I realize this is far from a new post, but if anyone does subscribe to Draft, good luck getting the issues. There is a whole thread on their forums devoted to the failure to deliver the magazine to people, including myself, who paid for subscriptions.

Anonymous said...

Ratebeer (a FREE online beer website with an active community running into the thousands), is the only source I use for beer information. Ratebeer assumes you have more than a passing knowledge of beer and does not talk down to the reader. It is the publication most read by beer professionals and those seriously interested in reading smart, knowledgeable beer reviews (done both by professionals and contributers).

Farscaper said...

I enjoy Draft Magazine, though I understand this reviewers' reasons for not feeling the same. That said, perhaps he should actually do some research before stating something like "Leslie Nielsen: unfunny 70's comedian." First of all, Leslie Nielsen was a serious television and film actor until 1979, when Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker asked him to star in the comedy classic Airplane. And even though he did a lot of comedy roles after that, he still did serious ones as well. I mean, if you're going to rant, at least try not to sound so ignorant.

Also, does this guy really think he's unfunny? All I can say is that someone needs a sense of humor, stat!