Food Shelter PR reached out to Tristan Chan, founder of PorchingDrinking.com to discuss how he started a national online beer community, his passion for the craft beer industry, and his experiences with PR pros.
Q: What pushed you to launch PorchDrinking.com?
A: I moved to Colorado in the fall of 2009 to serve an AmeriCorps term with the Boys and Girls Clubs in Fort Collins after graduating with a Journalism degree from Miami University. On an AmeriCorps salary (less than minimum wage) all that we could really afford was to camp out at the New Belgium Brewery tap room for free tasters every Friday and Saturday. It was here that I developed my passion for craft beer and fell in love with the collaborative nature of the industry. Two years later, when I realized how much I missed writing I reached out to my fellow Journalism friends and asked if they wanted to start a cool project highlight great stories about craft beer
Q: Do you remember what your first post was about?
A: As an homage to New Belgium Brewing, my first post was a beer showcase of Blue Paddle Pilsner, a super easy to drink, approachable lager that was a bit of a gateway beer. I felt it appropriate to showcase a beer that captures the essence of porch drinking as well as our mission of not being overly pretentious about beer.
Q: The site has become an influential part of the beer community pulling in writers from across the country to what do you contribute the growth of PorchDrinking.com?
A: I believe we’ve been able to grow as quickly as we have because we’ve always focused on great storytelling and our policy on promoting craft beer with positivity. The industry has really embraced our positive outlook and we believe our role is to showcase the great things happening in craft, and we’ll allow other sites to write about the negatives. We’ve also always tried to think outside the box and make craft beer relatable, which is why we did our Fantasy Brewer Draft for GABF and themed six packs each week.
Q: What do you love most about craft beer and the craft beer culture?
A: I love the collaborative nature of the industry as well as the creativity. I love that brewers can call up supposedly “competitors” and ask to borrow hops or grain and their “competitors” gladly lend a hand. I also love that craft beer continues to push our understanding of what beer is and tastes like. They’ve dug up old styles and recipes long forgotten, introduced insane tastes through adjuncts and wild yeasts.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face writing about this specific industry?
A: When it gets to brewery on brewery trademark disputes, that’s when we always have to tread carefully. In the end, both parties are often just hurting themselves.
Q: Do the writers at PorchDrinking.com prefer to come up with site's content for the site or are they open to pitches from PR professionals?
A: It’s a mix of both, we generally like to create our own content but we do rely on PR professionals to keep us up to date on major releases, big brewery news, events, etc. And we love sharing that kind of news to the public. However we generally prefer not to rehash press releases verbatim, but rather follow up with breweries to get more out of the story.
Q: How would you describe your experiences with PR professionals, have these interactions been mostly positive or negative?
A: Very positive, on the whole, in the beginning it was because of PR professionals that we were able to cover events that we probably didn't have any business attending. But that kind of stuff has allowed us to learn and grown in a really short time.
Q: From the blogger's perspective, what advice would you give to the PR firms looking to work with PorchDrinking.com?
A: I think it’s important to build a profile and understand the demographic of the blog you’re working with. We often have PR firms who represent Asian macro beers trying to relate their beers to St. Patrick’s Day or restaurant groups trying to push liquor releases at their clubs. None of those are our key demographic and we automatically delete those emails.
Q: What’s the best beer you’ve tried recently?
A: Funky Buddha’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter… it’ll change your life.