Hello everyone and welcome to People & Pints, my grand scheme for keeping everyone tapped* into my life abroad. I will be spending my fall semester studying at the University of Amsterdam and I wanted to capture my experience in a meaningful way. Blogging can be a great tool for traveling but I couldn’t find a singular, interesting topic. My thoughts strayed to beer reviews, something I believed would be a great exercise in writing, but I didn’t think a blog solely devoted to beer reviews in Amsterdam would truly encapsulate my semester abroad. As I talked with friends and family about my plans, a concrete thought–and consequently a new passion–developed; I wanted to write about the culture of beer in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam, and the Netherlands in general, has a rich past and flourishing present in beer production. One of the most widely distributed and well known beers in the world, Heineken, was founded in Amsterdam. The style of beer that originated from this area of Europe–top-fermenting beer–is enjoyed throughout the world; this includes Stouts, Witbiers (White Beers) and Oud Bruins (Old Browns). At one point in Amsterdam, beer essentially replaced water (though it was much less alcoholic). Currently, Amsterdam has several smaller craft breweries like Oedipus Brewing, Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Two Chefs Brewing and Brouwerij de Pael. These facts alone, though, were not what led me to my blog.
As interesting as beer and craft brewing might be for some, I’m under the impression more people would rather drink it than talk about it. My former editor at BostInno, Alex, concurred and helped me finally streamline my ideas. After discussing for a bit he advised me not to “nerd out about the beer,” but to focus on the people, the stories. Admittedly I rambled for some time trying to find the words to express what I really wanted to write about. What was it that would reflect my desire to learn about beer, life in Amsterdam and, in some respects, myself? Alex sifted through the jumble and repeated something I had said, ” ‘Forcing myself to be social. Through beer.’ That’s the blog.” Thus, People & Pints was born.
People & Pints will be my attempt to engage life abroad and share my experiences with any willing readers. Every week I will visit a new bar–or at least try a new beer–and attempt to talk with a stranger. I’m hoping to come away with some great stories and more importantly just connect, on a personal level, with the city I am calling home for a semester. I find that good beer is an excellent means to a social end and I think I can capture that in this blog. My friend Adriana told me that she thought P&P sounded a lot like “People of New York,” and I have to admit there are some similarities. But I am not just interviewing people of Amsterdam; it isn’t so one-sided. I think through my writing people can see the impact of a conversation on both parties.
I only intend to post once a week but if the blog is successful I may post more frequently. I plan to travel around Europe so although the location will change, the purpose remains. I leave for Amsterdam next Thursday and arrive Friday morning which means hopefully by Friday night I’ll have met my first Person and enjoyed my first Pint**.
This is my first time blogging; I have no editor, no deadlines but I am passionate about this project. I will be as candid and personal as I can be. This could ultimately fail. There’s all the chance in the world people won’t want to talk to an annoying American “blogger” and maybe the blog won’t be a huge hit. But I do hope that everyone who comes to the blog enjoys it. Please, please send any comments, criticisms or suggestions my way. These are my experiences and stories but I imagine they’ll mean something different for each reader and I am more than happy to change the model if it means P&P can be better. I hope this is a success, but, as I’ve told many of my friends, at worst I’ll have some good beer…and hopefully some great conversations.
*obligatory beer pun
**disclaimer: volume may not be exactly a pint
Image via Flickr