“Blind, spinning and out of phase, rioting in rolling waves. Your eyes are the middle of hurricanes. And I'll follow you all the way down.” — Preoccupations, “Decompose” (Flemish Eye, 2018.)
It’s been a month. A month of both tranquil calm—after a couple of much needed weeks of reflection spent in my home-from-home, Fort Collins—and a month of freneticism, be that born from excitement or frustration. It’s all of my own doing, of course. Saying “no” to a lucrative contract with a leading beer website was probably foolish, but for my own well-being and—most importantly—my ambition, it was absolutely necessary.
I cannot express how important the last three-and-a-half years at Good Beer Hunting have been. Without my time there I would not have learned the skills necessary to be able to leave it behind and still carry on as a freelance writer and photographer. I will be eternally thankful for that. I’m not happy with how it ended, but that’s a story to be told over pints at the bar and not in a blog post.
I am, however, now excited for what 2019 might bring. New opportunities, new projects and hopefully a manifestation of work born of ambition, not frustration. Three weeks in New Zealand should do the trick (although despite the trip I shall still mostly be working, a boy has bills to pay after all.)
Still, that leaves me with what to do with this website. The beer blog that kickstarted a career. Logically, as I’ve been trading under the name Total Ales for the majority of my freelance work, I saw fit to turn it into a portfolio of sorts. Or at least something that makes pitching a little easier if a client wishes to have a look at what I’ve been doing before deciding to pay me to do something for them.
This isn’t the return of Total Ales, and I hope that doesn’t disappoint you. It is nice, however, to have a spot I can jot down thoughts like this. And I can share recent work, like my last ever piece for Good Beer Hunting about Sussex’s magnificent Burning Sky Brewery. For Australian beer news site Brews News I unearthed plans from the Lion-owned Panhead Brewery to open a taproom on the Bermondsey Beer Mile. I share further (quite ranty tbh) thoughts on the wavering fortunes of Cask in an Op-Ed for Ferment Magazine and in my latest review for Hop Burns & Black I get all gooey-eyed over a bottle of Braybrooke Keller Lager.
You can now view my most recent photography via my new portfolio page and events I’m hosting by the cleverly-named events page. I’ve left all the old posts intact in case anyone is feeling weirdly nostalgic (yes, even the terrible ones.) But as for writing for myself, I think I might need a time out, and, potentially, a blank slate. We’ll see what 2019 brings, I guess. Oh and don’t forget if you’re enjoying my work you can sling me a few bob via my Ko-Fi account.
I am still very much looking for new opportunities. So if you happen to be a commissioning editor looking for some clean, yet entertaining copy (delivered on time!) Or you’re a beer business looking for someone to take nice photos for you, I’m probably your guy. Hit up the contact page and drop me a line.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all. Here’s to twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.
— Matthew Curtis
New Material by Preoccupations is my favourite album released in 2018. Listen to it (gratuitously and on repeat) by clicking here.