“I knew if I didn’t win it this year I’d never win it ever. Because the other part of my job is getting too busy. Writing about beer is all good and fun, but writing about crime and justice are more important.”
I first met Jono Galuszka several years ago when he was a journalism student working at Wellington’s Malthouse. We caught up there again yesterday to talk about his recent success winning the Brewers Guild Beer Writer of the Year Trophy.
“The first story I wrote about beer was about home brewing, which is quite pertinent given where things ended up, and that was while I was at Journalism School.”
Jono got home brewing advice from Liberty’s Joe Wood who also encouraged him to blog about the process. “So I started writing about beer and about my adventure going from drinking beer to brewing beer and that became my blog From Drinker to Brewer.”
His boss at the Manawatu Standard saw Jono’s blog and asked if it could be used on the newspaper’s website. Today the blog appears on Fairfax’s Stuff website and several Fairfax publications. Fairfax Media has an annual income of A$143.4 million, but Jono does not get paid for his beer writing. Instead, he finds it a relief to the stresses of his day job as a court reporter.
“Spending every day in court is a very emotionally charged and depressing place to be. You can’t help but be emotionally affected by that. It’s nice to disconnect from that in a way. You need your ying and your yang. It’s nice to have your beer writing on the side. It’s lighter fare, and my writing style can change and I can expand my lexicon in the way I write. It’s a different way to exercise my brain.”
Jono says a good blog entry is one that encourages readers to question and discuss the topic. He believes his formal training as a journalist definitely helps his beer writing.
“Being a journalist means I need to research things and find out what people say about things. Interviewing people and sourcing information and analysing information are useful skills. Then I can disseminate that information in a useful and entertaining way. I want to interview people and ask people about their opinion.”
He believes the future of beer writing will come though a combination of new media channels and good, old fashioned books.
“I hope in three years there’s more people doing it and doing it well. There should be reporters specialising in writing about the brewing industry. And I hope to see more books. Books are like sour beers – they take a lot of time. I also think the Award needs a name change to recognise people working in other media like podcasts and video clips.”