Shameless plugging: it's a good thing. It's the first reason I started this blog, on my editor's advice. Little did he know what he was setting in motion, but let's get back to basics with a run-through of some events I'm doing over the next few weeks. If the idea of meeting me face to face repulses you, look away now.
This weekend, Ed Davies, ambitious young manager of Kilverts in Hay-on-Wye, is staging his second annual Beer and Literature Festival. Me, Young Dredge and Adrian Tierney-Jones are the beer writers in residence. Tomorrow night I'm doing a beer and food pairing dinner, nicking from John Keeling at Fullers the idea of pairing each course with two contrasting beers to help people explore what matches best. It ended up being Wales vs rest of the world with each course. I'm expecting the Welsh beers will fare better than the football team (after all, you can't finish 117th if there are only handful of countries being featured). Then on Saturday I'm doing my Beer and Book Matching talk, with one or two tweaks from last time. Orwell, Amis, Hamilton, Dickens, Burton ale, lager, porter - but who goes with what? Adrian and Mark will be doing a second beer and food matching dinner on Saturday night, and there are all sorts of other goodies going on, with an impressive array of beers on keg and cask.
Then me and Mr Bill Bradshaw board a plane for the US - we're being looked after by the utterly fabulous North American cider community with what promises to be a thrilling and unforgettable tour of craft cider. As a tiny thank you we offered to do our cider talk (which went down very well in Wales) at the Great Lakes Cider and Perry Festival in St Johns, Michigan on 10th and 11th September. As you might guess, we're quite looking forward to that one. Not sure which day we're on or what time but think the event is on course to sell out, so if you are in the unlikely position of being a reader of this blog who is based near the Great Lakes and enjoys cider, get your ticket quick!
Back in the UK, 17th-18th September it's the Abergavenny Food Festival, which is now firmly established as one of the top food festival in the country, with as many celebrity chefs and chutney stalls as you could ever need. I'm going to be busier than ever this year, with a beer and food matching dinner on the nights of the 16th at the Bell Inn in nearby Glangrwyney, a joint event with Nick Otley on the 17th, where we'll be using Otley beers to showcase a world of beer styles, and a talk on Sunday where me, Ian Marchant and Paul Ewen discuss the enduring appeal of the British pub. I'm excited about all these events, especially the last one - Ian wrote the excellent The Longest Crawl - a book I would have written myself if he hadn't done it first - and Paul is the one-man 'Campaign for Surreal Ale', thanks to his hilariously disturbing book of London Pub Reviews. Three of us in a room together promises to be interesting. I can't link to the events individually but tickets for all of them are available on the festival website.
The following week is Social Media Week, with events happening in various cities around the world linking up in real time. The hub of it all this year is Glasgow, and you know who's in Glasgow? WEST brewery, that's who, the finest and possibly only Germano-Scottish brewery on the planet. On 22nd September from 6-8pm GMT I'll be joining them for a global real time tutored beer tasting, featuring beers from various participating cities including Vancouver, Chicago and Milan. More details as we work them out.
I go straight from Glasgow down to Cockermouth, for the Taste Cumbria Food Festival. Me and Jeff Pickthall will be doing beer and food matching masterclasses and beer trials on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th, somewhere around Cockermouth.
The week after that, after launching the 2011-2012 Cask Report on Monday 26th September I'm off to the Great American Beer Festival. No events planned for there, but I'm open to offers! Really looking forward to meeting North American friends and readers, many of whom I've become friends with online but have not yet met in person.
When I finally get back to London I'm running a pub quiz at the excellent Snooty Fox in Canonbury on the evening of 6th October. The owners say one of the Pippettes works behind the bar there - it'll be the first time I have ever been start struck by a barmaid.
The next day we're down to Lewes for their Octoberfeast shindig. The Snowdrop Inn is one of the most exquisite pubs I've ever been to, and last year they hosted me for a Hops & Glory reading that was one of the highlights of my year. I'm doing Beer and Book Matching down there this time, on 7th October, and staying overnight so I can find out what Melissa Cole's Scotch Egg event is all about the following afternoon...
And finally (for now) I go straight from there up to the Manchester Food & Drink Festival to host another beer and food dinner on October 9th. I shall be stalking Elbow.
When I finish all that, I have to hibernate to write three books. I probably shan't be surfacing till the New Year. At which point I might have a day or two off. Hope to see you at an event!