As with most things that come to Vegas, Beer & Blog originated somewhere else, in this case Portland, Oregon. Last Thursday, Justin Kistner, the founder of Beer & Blog, was on hand (beer in hand) for the Vegas inaugural, held at the Freakin’ Frog. And, as is so often not the case, Vegas got into Beer & Blog early enough to be almost at the vanguard. “We started January 16, 2008,” Kistner says. “And now there are five cities.” Three are in Oregon, and the fourth is St. Louis. Vegas is No. 5.
As the Velvet Underground plays in the background, about 30 bloggers mix. One is a woman who blogs about design; two are brothers who mix Vegas news with real estate ads for their business. The one celebrity blogger in attendance is television personality Dave Courvoisier. But he isn’t here for his official TV-related blogging. He started out blogging the traditional way about a year ago, as an extension of his on-air work: “Our station has a blog, and I tried to contribute to that, but my boss kept overriding my blogs, and so I said, ‘Heck with that, I’m starting my own.’” Over time Vegas has become only a shadow in his blog, which has become dedicated to his passion for voice-over acting.
Kistner is impressed by the number of beer-drinking bloggers attending Vegas’ first effort. “For our first Beer & Blog in Portland, we had four people,” he notes. These days he can pull 40-80. But he offers free technical help to all comers. It will be interesting to see if that facet of the barely year-old tradition survives in Vegas.
Local blogger John Hawkins got the idea for a Vegas Beer & Blog from a passing reference a speaker made Saturday at a conference for users of the blogging software WordPress. By Thursday the 30 bloggers were swapping notes and sipping beer at the Freakin’ Frog.
One tool that helped organize them so quickly: Twitter. According to Hawkins, 38, whose card defines him as “Blogger/Social Media Junkie,” it took only a few days to set this up among people who mostly did not know each other. Facebook helped, as well.
As the Frog event progresses, some have their laptops open and are furiously at work. Contrary to stereotypes, these bloggers are social people, happily interacting with each other despite the wide range of topics covered in their respective blogs. Hawkins, for example, covers technical areas. “Being in Vegas does not impact my blog at all,” he says.
According to Kistner, the key to Beer & Blog’s success is to keep it weekly. “Everyone does monthly events. Bloggers fit real well with a once-a-week event.”