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Guidelines

 

Thank you for your interest in contributing to On Tap. On Tap is South Africa’s first dedicated beer publication – a quarterly magazine aimed at craft brewers, homebrewers, beer fanatics and those just discovering the wonderful world of beer. We primarily focus on South Africa but are also very much interested in features and news from around Africa. We do carry some international content from outside Africa as well.

The magazine includes features, news, reviews and a number of regular sections. Please read through the guidelines and familiarise yourself with the various departments before pitching an idea. We have regular contributors covering beer reviews and homebrewing articles, so will only accept submissions for these areas in very special circumstances.

We accept freelance contributions in the following sections:

Event Recap (500 words)

As well as a calendar, we will use one event review (festival, food pairing, beer launch) per issue. This should be a first person account, largely positive but constructive criticism is fine.

Beerginner’s Guide (approx. 900 words, plus 100-200 words for sidebar)

An introductory guide for those who are just getting into beer as many of our readers are new to the beer world. Possible subjects include: What is craft beer?  What is bottle conditioning? What do hops do? Stout vs Porter, Lager vs Ale. An intro to off flavours. Plus a short sidebar on myth-busting (e.g. dark beers are higher in calories, SAB can produce a beer in 24 hours etc.) or giving further info about an aspect of beer mentioned in the article.

Beer Meets Food (500-600 words)

This is our recipe section. It can either be a dish cooked using beer as an ingredient (ideally) or a great recipe designed to pair with a specific beer. 

Features

The magazine contains up to four features per issue ranging in length from 800 to 1500 words. When pitching a feature, please include a suggested word count in your pitch. Features can cover a wide range of topics – raw ingredients, interviews, a deeper look at a newsy piece such as a new brewery opening, a new trend in brewing or possibly something less obviously beer-related, such as a piece on a new food trend. Profiles, human interest pieces, listicles and lifestyle pieces also fit here as long as there is a link to beer/beverages (e.g. a mountain biking feature with a focus on breweries that have epic trails).

On the Hop (900-1200 words)

This is our travel section. Destinations are usually in SA/southern Africa. We accept a range of angles here – first person travel stories are preferred. Tell us a great tale, but the piece obviously has to have a beer angle somewhere in there so should ideally include a brewery visit. There are other ways to work beer into the story though, such as taking your monthly mixed case into the mountains for a weekend away…

Against the Grain (900-1100 words)

In this section we step away from beer and take a look at what else is going on in the world of artisan drinks – cider, wine, whisky, gin, even soft drinks. We’re looking for one interesting, focused feature per issue. In the past we have visited the agave distilleries of South Africa, taken a look at the global use of tea in alcoholic beverages, explored the hard seltzer trend, profiled a family-run rum estate and taken a tutored brandy tasting. 

Tech Talk (800-900 words)

This is a section for craft brewers or those who are thinking of going pro, or at least have an in-depth knowledge of brewing. Topics could include a higher level look at brewing science, how to build your own large scale equipment, yeast management, hop utilisation etc. 

Style Guide (800-1000 words)

A two-page feature looking at a different style each issue. This is not a place to regurgitate the BJCP guidelines but a place to shine a spotlight on a lesser known or misunderstood style and to give background on its origins as well as a look at the flavour profiles and where you might be able to sample it in South Africa. 

World of Beer (900-1100 words)

This is our international section. Each issue focuses on an aspect of beer culture from a particular country or region. It’s not specifically a travel piece, although it might inspire some of our more fanatical beer nerds to travel. Instead, it’s an opportunity to shine a light on what’s happening in beer around the world, often relating back to South African beer culture. In the past we have covered the burgeoning craft beer scene in Israel, bucket list trips to Europe, beer tasting in Costa Rica and Argentina’s revolución cervecera.

How to pitch

We prefer short, snappy pitches rather than complete articles. Please include a suggested title for your article, a sentence or two explaining the idea and angle and don’t forget to tell us which section of the magazine your idea would fit into. Please tell us if you have quality, high-res images available to accompany your article. Also, please let us know if research for the piece is complete or ongoing. Tell us a little bit about you – your beer knowledge and any writing experience.  Feel free to send three or four ideas in one email, but not a 20-point wish list of everything you’d like to write.

IMPORTANT:

Please read back issues of the magazine to understand our house style and to see what we’ve published recently. Back issues are available on the website.

Send your pitches to lucy@ontapmag.co.za.

Sending your completed piece

Once an idea has been approved, we will contact you with a deadline. If you accept, please make sure you submit your completed piece (in a Word doc as an email attachment) by the assigned deadline. Please high-res images either via WeTransfer or Dropbox. We will then contact you to request high-res versions of the images we would like to use.

Compensation

Compensation will be determined on a case to case basis, depending on article length, type and the experience level of the writer. 

A few tips

  • Read past issues of the magazine to get an idea of style as well as topics already covered.
  • We use South African English (stick to British spelling and punctuation rather than American).
  • Avoid clichés: There’s a great list of beer-related clichés by British beer bloggers Boak and Bailey: http://boakandbailey.com/2015/06/beer-writing-cliches-call-for-submissions. 
    And here’s a list of general clichés to avoid like the plague (that’s one by the way): http://writerswrite.co.za/12-cliches-all-writers-should-avoid 
  • Keep it light – beer is fun and the tone of the magazine is upbeat and punchy.
  • Avoid jargon – many of our readers are not brewers. They might even be new to craft beer so don’t try to show off all the brewing terms you know. Keep the technical talk for the Tech Talk and Homebru sections and make everything else approachable.
  • Don’t pander – we don’t want spiteful write-ups but we also want our content to be honest and for readers to trust what we have to say. Not everything is amazing all of the time and constructive feedback is a way to build the beer industry.