Once upon a time Malt And Lead was called Beyond Mashed. When I started Beyond Mashed*, like many other beer fans, it was simply an Instagram account, where I’d post nice pictures of the beers I was enjoying – whether that was at home, in the local taproom or a brewery on my travels…
There was never any real direction or goal in mind with Beyond Mashed. I wasn’t setting out to be an “influencer” (and I would just like to put on the record how much I fucking HATE that term), nor was I looking, or expecting, to amass a huge following. At its foundation, I just wanted to champion great craft beer, and I’d been getting more and more interested in photography, so the two things just went hand in hand. If a few people took notice, that was cool. Really, not much has changed in that respect.
About 2 years ago, I wanted there to be more purpose and reason for the existence of Beyond Mashed. The idea being that I’d try and leverage my experience of having worked in advertising, marketing and design for the best part of 12 years. I figured with the “craft beer boom” I could offer specialised services, not just as an art director or branding designer, but also as a consultant, given that I understand the market as both a consumer and marketer. Needless to say, not much happened there…
I think my first mistake was presenting Malt and Lead as a one-stop-shop for all things design, marketing and consulting for the craft beer sector, and the craft beer sector alone. As much as I’d love to be the next Good Beer Hunting, I want to forge my own path. I feel like was doing myself a disservice by siloing off the work I’d done within other sectors. I actually believe I can offer more to craft beer brands, because my experience as a designer and art director goes far beyond beer and spirits. Secondly, I was neglecting the work that I’d been doing under my Secretly Swedish moniker, for the last 12 years. You might be a brewery looking for some new can art, but I’d like to hope that you might see a gig poster I designed for Minus the Bear and think “Fuck yeah, something like that would be awesome on a can!”.
I quickly realised that Malt and Lead needed to be something else, again. Which I think is where I’m at now. It’s been about 9 months since I parked the idea of Malt and Lead being some kind of craft beer focused “agency”. Really, it’s now about taking it back to its initial foundation: celebrating and championing great independent craft beer, its breweries and brewers, as well as the taprooms, bars, events and festivals that form this exciting community. The next step is how I build upon that.
I want Malt and Lead to be more than an Instagram feed and questionable words. In my head, it’s a photographic journal, with some more traditional blog elements, such as news, releases, events, etc. On the surface, I know that might not seem original, but I’d like to think I can impart a little more of my surly, sarcastic, but passionate personality into the various components that will make up the site. My goal for the next 6 months is to make this here website more of a destination for craft beer fans, with content that’s both of interest to us fans and consumers, as well as those who sit on the industry side of the fence. Let’s see what happens.
So, here we go. One part-time punk / full-time graphic designer, drinking awesome beer, giving this another shot.
*I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my good friend Jonny Bucknall was very much part of the formation of Beyond Mashed. And, fingers crossed, he’ll be a regular contributor here too. If you’re reading this, JB, I’m assuming you’ll say yes.