20 January 2012

The problem with Beer Advocate and RateBeer

There are folks that question the attitude of others (and, by my mentioning them, this writer) that some of the beer-rating websites, specifically BeerAdvocate.com, have been getting, shall we say, some negative attention of late.

Here's my spin on things, short, sweet, and to the point.

In any aggregation of like-minded folks, there are always a few folks that are going to carry on in exaggerated fashion, garner an undue amount of attention (typically negative in nature), and by extension cast the rest of the group or community in an undeservedly negative fashion.

At a sports stadium, it may be the guy with the "JOHN 3:16" sign, or the pack that painted their bodies in the team colors spelling out the team name and taking their shirts off in 20-degree weather to show the world and TV cameras, or the thugs that riot with supporters of the "wrong" team.

At a science fiction convention, it may be the chorus that insists on singing multiple songs in Klingon or Sindarin, or the heavyset, bearded, bespectacled guy that dresses as Sailor Moon (warning: the image at the link is not for the faint of heart).

With Christians, it's the Westboro Baptist "Church" and folks willing to shoot abortion doctors.  With Muslims, it's al-Qaeda and the Taliban.  With politics, the extremes of the Occupy Wall Street arnachists and the idiots still insisting Obama isn't an American citizen.

And among the real-ale and beer geek community, it's the Real Ale Tw*ts.

Unfortunately for the Beer Advocate and RateBeer communities, the "discussion" at said sites is becoming increasingly dominated by a certain category of beer geek/snob, around which fewer seem interested in hanging about.  It's as if a friendly beer bar with a fine selection of craft beers ended up being dominated, night after night, by a crowd of d*ucheb*gs.  The beer and food may be terrific, but the atmosphere isn't conducive to the craft or its enjoyment.  And, sadly, some misguided folks are guaranteed to walk into the "wrong" beer bar, see this audacious display, and go somewhere else to slurp Red Bulls and vodkas or Natty Boh or tequila shots instead.  And if someone goes to the manager and says "You know, those guys are a little too boisterous/physical/drunk", what should the manager's reaction be?

There's a reason I--and many others--have pretty well avoided going to BeerAdvocate and RateBeer (and even my old sentimental favorite from over a decade ago, Pubcrawler.com) except on a "need-to-know" basis.


Imbibe Hour said...

I am really tired of the forums in BeerAdvocate. It's the same constant complaining day in and day out from users. I "try" to stay out of there, as much as I can it is full, without question like you said, of do******gery.

JohnM. said...

This will probably surprise you Alex, but I agree with most of the points you (and imbibe hour) make. I still tend to think the pros outweight the cons (there is a lot of useful information on those sites, and frankly I always post a query on BA whenever I'm about to visit a new city), but increasingly I pay no attention whatsoever to the discussion on the "beer talk" forums. As I mentioned previously, I will die a very happy man if I never read another thread extolling why this or that beer, beer bar, brewer, etc., is over-rated, over hyped, overpriced, etc. I mean really, who cares!?!?!

The regional forums I find to be more useful and interesting, as often times it's a good way to learn about new beer bar destinations, new/limited local beer distribution, meet new, like minded locals, etc.

Shrug.... at the end of the day we're all free to "take it or leave it" when it comes to these sites, and increasingly I tend to "leave it." Still can't see any reason to blast those sites (which to my mind, smacks of the exact same behavior you so abhor Alex), I think the better response is to just ignore them (except on those occasions when you need something from them, which I think we can all agree does happen on occasion).

That being said... I plan to go sample some hopslam after work this afternoon, and it will be the third time I've been able to this year. Were it not for BA, not only would I likely have been unable to do so (two of the locations where it's on tap are pretty obscure), but I likely wouldn't even know about the beer. Yes, I'm sure that wouldn't have harmed me, as there are plenty of local great beer substitutes available (as you like to point out), but I personally like to try new things, and so I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to drink hopslam this year. You might not place any value in that, but I do. Cheers! :-)

Imbibe Hour said...

John took the words right out of my mouth. I was just too lazy to type it all out ;) couldn't agree with him more. Cheers to you all!